We've secured funding from the Alumni Fund to further develop and roll-out a student-driven app ecosystem. This builds on previous work that was funded by two Teaching Development Fund (TDF) grants that have resulted in the prototype App-Factory software, which is at the heart of the ecosystem.
The aim is to exploit the increasing familiarity and popularity of apps to enable undergraduates, postgraduates, staff and alumni to create and share apps. These can be used to support Peer Assisted Learning (PAL), Peer Mentoring (PM), Alumni-Assisted Learning (AAL) and for a whole range of other purposes such as apps for research, clubs, societies, bus timetables, fresher’s guides or anything else that enhances creativity, life and learning at the university.
Undergraduates already create and share digital material such as collections of multiple-choice questions for revision, notes taken during a lecture, and simple animations. Students have indicated that the creation of such items in itself is a good way of learning, and, apart from simply sharing resources with peers, small groups of students often congregate for informal learning such as an exam simulation using past-papers. It seems that there is plenty happening which is possibly unknown or off-radar to academics, yet should be encouraged and supported by the university.
Previous grants from the TDF have created a working prototype of an app authoring system (App-Factory), and an alpha version of a distribution facility (App-Centre) which is currently used by students solely within Pharmacy & Pharmacology. The grant from the Alumni Fund means that we can:
- Develop app sharing facilities for students
- Expand the distribution capacity of the system to the wider University with the addition of further hardware and software resources
- Create a number of student-authored exemplar apps that showcase the capabilities of the system
- Publicise and promote this system which has recently been selected as a case-study for the JISC Mobile Learning Infokit 2015
Alumni-Assisted Learning (AAL):
PAL and PM are the corner-stones of the project, and we intend to enhance current activities and introduce the concept of Alumni-Assisted Learning (AAL) for final year students. Currently, only final year students are lacking a peer support group and there is an opportunity for recent graduates to participate by remotely creating apps (using the App-Factory) for final year students
Cristina Dumitru, recent alumni and winner of the Chancellors Prize in 2014, has already created apps for her peers and wishes to develop AAL apps for areas that final year students find problematic. One of the motivating factors for alumni is that these types of activities are valid for Continuing Professional Development (CPD), and can be used in their official CPD professional portfolio.
Keith Brown, eLearning Co-ordinator, Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology
Julie Letchford, Senior Teaching Fellow and Department Lead for Peer Mentoring and Peer Assisted Learning
Cristina Dumitru, Recent Alumni and Royal Pharmaceutical Society Student of the Year 2014