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SmartCity linked App development at E2C

This is a guest blog by MIT Master Trainer Pierre Huguet and Marie-Caroline Gries

Ecole de la deuxième chance is a public network of schools, created to offer an alternate solution for students that break out the schooling system with no degree nor professional qualification. This program addresses young men and women who volunteer to catchup on key subjects including French, English, web design, programming and robotics. E2C trains 15 000 young adults each year.

A 30 hours pilot workshop was designed with Bibliothèques Sans Frontières, that drives digital literacy programs. Students were asked to learn App Inventor, and then build their own app in connection with city life.

The workshop started with basic apps, then focused on sensors, networks and development methods:

  • phone sensors, test geolocation with GPS or Wi-Fi and do a sensitivity analysis,
  • read Web addresses, identify protocols, services and APIs, use map servers with browser then program blocks,
  • define their project (Design Thinking), prototype (paper) and plan (project management).

Student created Apps were the following:

  • City walking tour with shopping bonus,
  • Geo-located events agenda,
  • Peer to peer Uber App for motorcycles (see picture),
  • Record user’s sports training activities (see picture).

Time was short, and students required significant help to complete a first version of their app, but the goal was reached to experience a full development cycle.

Projects were shown on the school’s “Digital label certification day” (Grande école du numérique) to Edith Cresson, founder and chair of E2C and former prime minister: Eliott shows an Uber like App and how smartphones can exchange data over the Web, Marouane explains the sports training App, Everest and Marwan demonstrate robotics.
Students were surprised with their own App creation capabilities. They also improved their mental map of digital technologies (“it’s not magics”) and capability to use them. These were our priorities. For later workshops, we will take more time and connect with a course on the server side (html, php) and Web data sharing that is a key to socially relevant apps. We will also use existing geo-App frameworks to gain time.

Acknowledgements: special thanks to Iris Lupianez (E2C) and Dorothée Arnaud (BSF)
Links: BSF, E2C, les voyageurs du numérique, grande école du numérique,