The move to Computing has enabled students to learn how to develop applications of their own and become creators rather than just consumers of technology.”
As part of our Ten Year Celebrations, we wanted to make sure to chat with the Apps for Good team. We have a few people on our team who have gone from being teachers themselves to helping us create even better courses for our teachers. Donna Hay is the Senior Learning Manager here at Apps for Good. Six years ago she went from Head of Computing and delivering the AfG Course in her spare time to developing our program and new courses.
Tell us a little bit about you and your role at Apps for Good?
I have been the Senior Learning Manager for AfG for the last five years. This means that I am responsible for creating our learning resources and keeping them up-to-date. I also undertake research for new courses, adapt existing resources for projects with partner organisations and keep an eye on current trends and issues in education. This last aspect has proved crucial over the past year as we have had to adapt our resources, first for home study and more recently for schools with limited or no access to computing suites or devices.
What inspired you to become a Computing Teacher?
I have a degree in Computer Science and worked for a major retail bank for a number of years as variously an analyst programmer, business analyst and project manager. When I hit my forties I decided I wanted to do something that would make more of a difference. I have always had a love of learning and wanted to pass on my enthusiasm for learning to others so decided to do a PGCE and teach ICT / Computing, I taught in Bristol schools for ten years and for the last five of those years I was Head of Computing and responsible for e-learning across the school.
How did you become involved in Apps for Good?
I came across Apps for Good in 2012 in a Twitter post by another teacher. I was looking for a course to engage students and get them interested in developing their programming skills and Apps for Good really fitted the bill.
Did you deliver any AfG courses as a teacher?
I delivered Apps for Good for three years, initially in curriculum time for year 9 and then, when time pressures meant that this was no longer feasible, as an after-school enrichment club for KS3. Students engaged well with the course and were very enthusiastic about creating their own apps. However, at the time the 20-week Extended App Development course was the only one available and some students struggled to maintain their initial enthusiasm and complete the whole course. While Apps for Good still offer the Extended course, most schools now deliver our shorter 10-week Standard courses. Delivering Apps for Good in the classroom has given me a good understanding of both the key strengths and the areas for further development for our courses. I also have an appreciation of how tough it can be for teachers trying to juggle all the competing pressures and always strive to ensure our courses have everything a teacher needs to deliver without lots of additional work.
I also have an appreciation of how tough it can be for teachers trying to juggle all the competing pressures and always strive to ensure our courses have everything a teacher needs to deliver without lots of additional work”
What have been the biggest changes that you’ve seen across the years?
When I started teaching the subject was called ICT (Information and Communication Technology) and lessons were focused on learning to use applications such as Excel and PowerPoint. The move to Computing has enabled students to learn how to develop applications of their own and become creators rather than just consumers of technology. There is also a much greater awareness now of ethical implications of the use of technology and the impact on everyday life.
Have you noticed a change in attitudes towards computing education?
As part of the transition from ICT to Computing, the subject has become more high profile and more academically demanding. While there have been many positive changes there is a danger that less able or less engaged students may get left behind. Computing needs to be inclusive as every student’s life will be impacted by technology whether they choose to study it further or not.
What has been your proudest Apps for Good moment?
The success of the Machine Learning course. My knowledge of AI was limited before I started to research for the course and I had a very steep learning curve when putting the course together. Feedback from teachers has been very positive and they have reported that students have found it enjoyable, informative and very relevant to their lives.
We are celebrating a decade of Apps for Good, if you enjoyed this we have lots more for you to explore on our 10 years page, and here on our blog.