Workshop - Apps for Impact

SUBJECT DISCIPLINE app development

Centre for Engineering and Design Education

STATUS complete
DURATION Start Date:  9th June, 2014
End Date:  9th June, 2014


A successful “Apps for Impact” workshop was hosted in June 2014 attended by delegates from across the university. A number of presenters addressed different approaches to developing an app for higher education.

Nicola Beddall-Hill from CEDE shared her experiences in the design, material creation and assisted development of an app produced as part of the EPSRC Science and Heritage programme project ‘Representing Re-Formation’. This was an exploration of the use of apps for public engagement in research council-funded research. She also led the evaluation of the app to inform iterative design and final product dissemination.

Mashhuda Glencross from Computer Science followed with an enlightening discussion around the challenges of implementing a module that incorporated app design using face-to-face and MOOC approaches for the delivery. Mark Evans from the Loughborough Design School then kindly shared his journey through the development of an app founded in research that helps to facilitate collaboration between industrial designers and engineering designers.

Senior developer Kyle Bayliss from Rock Kitchen Harris was the final presenter for the morning. Kyle shared top tips for development and had everyone consider the essential question: does it have to be an app? He instead proposed that certain goals can be more easily and successfully obtained with a responsive website design at significantly less cost.

The delegates broke out for some group discussions and action planning of any ideas that might have been forming. It seems that institutional support is not necessarily needed in developing ideas into apps within higher education. However, access to shared experiences and expertise was most welcome and gave those who attended food for thought and the opportunity to test their ideas. A lot of attendees decided that perhaps an app was not responsive enough for their needs and that there were too many barriers to successful development (such as cost and their time-intensive nature). However, some were still interested in pursuing an app.

Hence it is necessary to scope the idea fully, to work out the barriers and their solutions and prepare as much of the design as possible before development in order to reduce costs. Consider the audience and whether they have suitable access to the technology. It is also essential to take a long-term view – considering the likely frequency of updates, adding new material, costs for these activities and the lack of flexibility they allow when changes have to be approved via an app store such as iTunes. Apps are quite restrictive and may have a shorter shelf life, but they can achieve many things ‘on the move’ that a website without Wi-Fi access could not, such as location-specific information, taking photos, etc. However, these things must be relevant to the context and require buy-in and backing from your audience.

Item ID #72.

Last Updated: 4th November, 2014

Workshop - Apps for Impact