Engaging Students in the new emerging technologies (Update)
The App Challenge is a yearly competition that promotes innovation among students and builds their capabilities to design and develop mobile games. The program gives participants the knowledge, skills & experience to create mobile games. No matter their prior experience, the program provides them with the knowledge needed to broaden their scope of abilities and to indulge them in the world of the fast-growing mobile gaming industry.
The App Challenge was introduced in 2011, under the direction of His Majesty, King Abdullah II of Jordan, as a student-centered competition inviting young Jordanians to explore and participate in new emerging technologies.
The App Challenge works with students between the ages of 14-16 from all over Jordan with a long-term bottom-up grassroots plan to be the potential app creators, designers, thinkers, or business leaders shaping the scene of Jordan Appreneurs.
To date, the application challenge has been organized 14 times, and the table below summarizes the implementation challenges until 2020…
How does the app challenge work?
The Selection Process
The Ministry of Education and the King Abdullah II Fund for Development invite students from private and public schools to participate in a one-day interactive session.
Students participate in teams consisting of 3-4 students and one teacher.
During this orientation day, which lasts approximately 7-8 hours, students attend and participate in an interactive session on mobile technology and games.
On this introductory day, they learn the principles of game design and storytelling.
Students pass a test consisting of questions related to the topics discussed in the introductory session at the end of the day. Teams must also write an interactive game story from a set of elements that the lecturer presents to them. This test helps program supervisors test student creativity and understand students and their teachers during the introductory day.
The exam is reviewed by a specialized committee to choose the schools that will qualify for a 5-day training course at a rate of 8 daily training hours.
The training prepares them, later, to work alone for two months to develop their game concepts.
After that, the students will work with a proposed theme from King Abdullah II for Development. In the previous years, students worked on Cultural and products of Jordan apps and Edutainment Games.
Following the latest mobile game trends and the 2019 app challenge, the students were challenged to create a hypercasual edutainment game. Hyper–casual games are lightweight games with simple mechanics. These games are instantly playable and infinitely repayable, making them highly addictive and engaging to play.
In 2020, a particular version of the competition was launched during the Corona pandemic. Students participated in its various stages through the online audio and video technology. They were asked to develop an interactive awareness and safety game from Corona.
The video below shows the 2020 App Challenge Cycle Ceremony.
After two months, students present their work to their trainers and go through the verification process. The Maysalward team will verify that all elements of the game developed are the original work of students and are not copied or developed with external assistance. Otherwise, the team is excluded.
After passing the Qualification stage, the teams will take a one-day soft skills training session to learn how to present and pitch their ideas.
Also, a budget of $70 will be given to each qualified team. Only within this budget, students present their projects (printouts, giveaways …etc.). Also, an expense report will be handed over on the assessment day. However, this part was introduced to manage equal expenditures between schools in showcasing their work.
THE ASSESSMENT DAY
In front of juries, the students present their projects. Every cycle hosts juries members from successful entrepreneurs, mobile technology firms, the Ministry of Education, former ministers, and heads of Jordanian educational organizations. They all share one agenda; to do a final polish up, proper assessment, and of course, select a winner.
The King Abdullah II Development Fund and Maysalward Team give the jury panel a 10-minute general brief on the students’ cycle, theme, interactions, and teacher.
How do the teams present their ideas?
Students enter as a team and without their teachers to present their projects to the jury panel. The teachers are excluded from giving students the freedom to express their opinions and their challenges in the project.
During the course, the training team teaches students the best pitching practices without directing them a specific way, but students learn general best practices. They have the flexibility to choose the best way to show their project the ways they see fit.
Students will be free to express themselves entirely independently with PowerPoint videos or drama plays.
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 competition criteria prepared by King Abdullah II for Development and Maysalward.
The winners are announced at the annual Jordan Gaming Summit held in Jordan, organized by the Jordan Gaming Lab and the Jordan Task Force. The top projects are shown directly to the audience before announcing the winners.
In Some App Challenges cycles, the students presented their projects directly to His Majesty King of Jordan, where the king awarded the winners.
The first-ranked teams return to their schools with a budget of $ 5,000 to build a small laboratory. This non-personal award encourages students to appreciate community work and share achievements with their schoolmates for years.
Students in the first three positions and their teachers receive personal prizes such as smartphones or tablets
The video below shows the 10th App Challenge Cycle Assessment Day.
Post App Challenge and Support
The Jordan Gaming Lab, which is operational in 6 cities now: Amman, Irbid, Aqaba, Karak, Zarka, and Maan, is another non-profit setups managed and funded by King Abdullah II for Development with technical operation led by Maysalward Team. The Jordan Gaming Lab follows up with the App Challenge students to ensure they continue their work and apps’ interest.
Also, The App Challenge invites participant teachers to be part of the Jordan Gaming Lab TOT program. The program focus on developing teachers’ skills in game development to enable them to run their applications in schools or universities.
The App Challenge completed projects published in the app stores under King Abdullah II for Development account. The students with the Jordan Gaming Lab have all the freedom to update and support them.
Google Play: https://goo.gl/C2F3ZF
App store: https://goo.gl/YYSQaO
Those young Jordanians represent the pool of talent that will continue to power Jordan’s future.
For Maysalward’s team, the app challenge helps us be attentive to Mobile Video Game Technology’s latest. We want to give the best to a very tech-savvy generation that already armed with general knowledge about Technology are hardcore mobile gamers.
“The App Challenge Keeps us updated, challenged, and we are 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.