Blog Post— 5 Min Read

Fun Observations On Abre Appathons

We’re coming off a season of Appathons where, through a total of three states, we’ve held a number of mini-events that included teachers and students.

I love Appathons. The creativity, innovation, and pure joy folks get by going through the design process that impacts their day-to-day gets me jazzed. The teacher in me enjoys connecting ideas between various groups and seeing them flourish.

What Are Appathons?

Abre Appathons are hosted events where students, teachers, and the learning community define problems and begin to develop their own Abre apps as solutions.

Participants use the open-source community edition of Abre to follow a series of sequential activities.

Learn More

We have enough of a sample size of Appathons that I thought it would be worthwhile to identify some trends when it comes to such creativity. It is not uncommon for groups to pick the same problem or type of challenge to solve. I’m not sure if that’s because these problems are their biggest headaches or rather the most available difficulty that comes to mind.

Either way, here’s a breakdown of the most popular ideas seen from both the student perspective and staff perspective.

Student Ideas

Scheduling Ideas

A large percentage of student apps deal with scheduling. Students are very concerned about getting their class schedule just right. What’s interesting is that “just right” can take on a number of meanings – the right classes for college, relevant learning, or engaging teachers.

It can also mean gaming the system so that their future grades can be predicted. The GPA game. (Clever students.)

Sports and Clubs

Many of the students that participate in appathons are involved in multiple clubs and sports teams. These present various challenges with scheduling, communication, and promotion. Extracurricular activities include a complex mix of students, their parents, and coaches or leaders.

Consequently, appathons produce Abre apps that solve these problems in creative ways. My favorite was an app that acted similar to Uber and allowed kids to reach out to various parents to make carpooling possible. (I need that app.)

Learning Management Improvements

Perhaps because most students use a Learning Management System in their schools, a common idea in appathons focuses on how to improve such systems. This might take the form of AI recording lectures and transcribing missed classes to chat rooms where students receive help from each other.

Appathon at Reds

An Appathon at Reds Stadium During the Tech Olympics

Staff Ideas

Staff ideas are harder to group. One of the attractions of an Appathon for a teacher is that they can create an app specific to their area of teaching. For example, a music teacher will create an app that’s very specific to composing music. An ELL will create learning apps that support first time English learners. And so on.

That said, two common themes emerge in the Appathons we’ve done with teachers.

Communication

Everyone is searching for the holy grail of communication that best grabs the attention of stakeholders (in this case, students and their parents). Teachers rightly grow excited when they realize Abre “starts the narrative” of learning every day with students, parents, and community members.

Mental Health

It is probably no surprise that educators are increasingly concerned about the mental health of their students. While an important area to consider developing an app, they are somewhat cautious in fleshing out ideas given the sensitive nature of the topic. Several app ideas center around the concept of “pausing” during the day, taking a quick check of how you’re feeling, and then using strategies to try and get focused and on task.

More Ideas to Grow

These ideas really only scratch the surface of what might be possible. I personally would love to host an Appathon with parents (and dive into their unique challenges)! As we continue to sponsor and encourage schools and clubs to host Appathons, we look forward to seeing the innovative solutions to growing education opportunities.