Spotlight talks with Leshell Hatley, executive director of Uplift, Inc., about Youth AppLab, a new after-school program in Washington, D.C. that teaches software and mobile application design.
The project just won a Learning Lab award for innovation in digital media as part of the 2010 Digital Media and Learning Competition.
High school students will conceive, develop and co-create apps for the Android mobile phone. The program, which is housed by Uplift, Inc., aims to supplement more formal computer science learning that students may be doing in school.
“We want to make sure that they are learning cutting edge technology, like how to create an app in nine months,” said Hatley.
Hatley and the program’s collaborators hope to take advantage of young people’s interest in being creators as well as consumers of new media. Students will be designing the software they see as most useful for themselves and their peer group.
“Here we get to say: ‘What to you want to create? What do you want to say to the world about your app?’” said Hatley.
In addition to the development and testing of the app itself, Hatley says the new program will teach design, teamwork and time management, as well as presentation and public speaking skills.
Youth AppLab hopes a focus on minority high school students will help to increase the number of African Americans and Latinos in computer science fields where they are currently underrepresented. The project will encourage participants to consider computer science as a career option.
After creating their app, teams will compete for internships with technology-based startup companies in the D.C. area.
“A new wave of apps are coming,” said Hatley, “and we can’t wait for that to happen.”
For more on the Digital Media and Learning Competition see spotlight.macfound.org/btr/category/digital_media_and_learning_competition/