Congress has decided to promote apps by kids. (See Congressional info page.) Irony aside, I’m delighted to see this for several reasons:
- Apps require a designer to be analytical. One must identify needs and solutions, and balance competing goals.
- Apps are typically for someone else, so the creator needs to understand the needs, capacities, and challenges of the user.
- Apps require creativity. Life doesn’t provide detailed instruction from start to finish for something totally new.
- Apps let creators attempt, stumble, and repeat. Missing a goal is only a failure if it stops one from learning and trying again.
In a previous column, FunWithGIS152, I showed how students (and even educators) could make a simple app customized to their own community. This example should serve only to provide an initial experience in app building. Think of the useful apps students could build … and now the US Congress is encouraging it!
Brainstorm some map apps with students. Get the existing coders to explore, of course, but not just them! Ask everyone to explore the ArcGIS Resource Center, follow some links, and see what people in different industries are looking for. (See also the Esri Github site.) Encourage them to define scenarios: What capacities would help in what situations? Wander through the software samples, the users, the forums, and consider the potential futures available for individuals who can read a description, break a challenge into components, combine capacity creatively, and fail willingly temporarily. Congress wants to see what is possible!
Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Education Manager