The App Challenge
In 2011, The App Challenge (TAC) kicked off as a Royal initiative directly from His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan. TAC is a school student-centered competition that invites young Jordanians to explore and engage in new emerging technologies.
The world was already rapidly shifting to mobile smartphones and tablets, and every single aspect of our lives was going towards app development, and still we are moving towards the app-oriented smart connected world.
In order to build Jordan’s capacity in that direction, and not adapt short- term solutions, but a long-term grassroots approach, the app challenge came out with a bottom-up approach: targeting students age 14-16 from all over Jordan to be the future app developers, designers, thinkers, or business leaders forming our Appreneurs scene.
Managed and supervised by the King Abdullah II Fund for Development (KAFD); Maysalward was honored since the first app challenge Cycle to lead as an executive partner in the technical and skills development of the Students.
Today, the App Challenge has reached up to 8 cycles, in addition to a Golden Cycle where top finalists schools from previous cycles competed to design and develop a Golden App idea.
The sheet below summarizes the previous App Challenges.
How does the App challenge work?
The Ministry of Education(MOE) suggests schools from both private and public sectors.
KAFD and through the MOE invites schools to participate in the Orientation day with 3-4 team members in addition to their teacher.
Schools will go in a one day (7-8 hrs) Orientation, in which they will go throughout an interactive session of Mobile Technology and Gaming, Learning Game design principles, and storytelling. At the end of the day, they will work as a group to answer a PopQuiz and build a story for a game. This helps tutors to evaluate the creativity and the anticipation of students and their teachers. The team during the session keeps an eye on the behavior and interactivity of schools and puts a score on it.
The storytelling sheets and pop quizzes blindly pass to a committee where they are evaluated and discussed towards selecting the qualified schools for the 5-day crash course training. Schools names are only shown at the end of the evaluation process to be entirely unbiased toward gender and schools.
In the five days, the students spend 8 hours daily with Maysalward’s Team, learning all mobile game development aspects which prepare them later on to work alone during a period of maximum 2 months, where they develop their games.
The students will work with a proposed theme from KAFD. In the previous years, they worked on Cultural and products of Jordan apps, Edutainment Games and during the last app challenge, they were asked to create a game that reflects the history of the Arab Revolt.
After a maximum period of two months, the students will deliver their work and pass through a verification process where Maysalward’s team will verify with students that all work carried out is their proper efforts and nothing copied, or any external help taken.
In the case of failure, the school disqualifies.
The teams, after passing the verification stage, will take a one-day soft skills training session, where they will learn how to present and pitch their ideas.
Also, a budget of $ 70 is given to each qualified team, in which only within this budget, they can present their thoughts (printouts, giveaways …etc) . An expense report will be handed over on the assessment day.This part was introduced to manage equal expenditures between schools where some financially privileged schools in the past had an advantage in showcasing their work.
The assessment day
The students will present their ideas in front of a Jury panel. At every Cycle, it hosts successful entrepreneurs, representatives from mobile technology companies, Ministry Of Education, ex/ministers, and heads of educative Jordanian organizations.They all share one agenda, to do a final polish up, proper assessment, and of course select a winner.
The students usually get out with a lot of tips, advice, and encouragement from such leaders.
The KAFD and the Maysalward’s Team usually give a 10-minute general brief to the Jury panel on the cycle, theme, and the students and their teacher’s interactions.
How the Teams present their ideas?
Students enter the room without their teachers to present their project to give them full freedom to express their thoughts.
The students are given general and best practices pitching formulas, but not directed to a certain way, as they have all the freedom to select the best way they find fit for presenting their project.
From videos to PowerPoint or theatrical plays the students express themselves with full freedom.
They have 5 minutes to present and 15 minutes to answer the Jury panel questions and discuss remarks.
The Jury Panel follows a judging process and fills out a score sheet designed based on the challenge competition criteria prepared by KAFD and Maysalward.
At the end of the assessment, the assessors check out the final result and discuss between them, to confirm and agree on the winners.
Winners are announced at a special ceremony afterward, and top 3 projects showcased live for the ceremony audience before announcing the winners.
To get The App Challenge the right support and attention in early days where App Development was still publicly in early stages, the students presented and awarded live in front of his Majesty King of Jordan.
The first place winner will go back to their schools with a budget of $5000 to build a miniLab. This non-personal award was designed to encourage students towards community work and sharing achievements. Also, the students in the first three places and their teachers go back with SmartPhones or Tablets.
Video Below shows the 8th App Challenge Cycle Assessment day.
Post App Challenge and Support
The Jordan Gaming Lab, which is operational in 5 cities now: Amman, Irbid, Aqaba, and Maan, is another not-for-profit activity managed and funded by KAFD and run with Maysalward as the executive technical partner. The Jordan Gaming Lab follows up with the app challenge students to make sure they continue their work and interest in apps.
Also, The App Challenge invites participant teachers to be part of the Jordan Gaming Lab TOT program, that focuses on developing their skills in game development to enable them to run their programs in schools or universities.
All TAC completed projects are published on the app stores under the KAFD account, and the students with Jordan Gaming Lab have all the freedom to update and support them.
Google Play : https://goo.gl/C2F3ZF
Appstore : https://goo.gl/YYSQaO
This fraction of young Jordanians represents the pool of talent that will continue to power Jordan’s future.
For Maysalward’s team, the app challenge helps us to be attentive to the latest in Mobile Video game Technology as we want to give the best to a very tech-savvy generation that is already armed with general knowledge about Technology and are hardcore mobile gamers.
“The App Challenge Keeps us updated, challenged, and Proud of being part of the future”
Nour KHRAIS, Founder and CEO Maysalward
The International Journal Associate acknowledged Nour Khrais Paper contribution and listed him as an Associate Editor in Volume 10, Issue 3-4 : Technologies in Education. The Paper ” Engaging Students: Designing Mobile Phone Applications in Jordanian Schools” was presented back in 2015 at the Eleventh International Conference on Technology, Knowledge, and Society at UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY | BERKLEY, USA and under the theme of Big Data and the Politics of Participation in a Digital Age.