Two 16-year-old Saltash students will see 18 months of software design work come to fruition when their new school timetable app goes live in Apple’s iTunes Store on Thursday (September 8), the day students return to school.
Ryan King and Ethan Pearce, of Saltash.net Community School in Cornwall, followed up a suggestion from their ICT and business studies teacher Jimmy Edwards to create the Saltash.net Etable app. They have also created one for mobile phones and tablets on Google’s Android platform.
Saltash.net Etable enable’s teachers and students to create their own, personalised one-week or two-week timetables. There’s plenty of room to add all sorts of supportive notes and information about homework and tasks set. It is just as useful for teachers planning their lessons as it is for students organising their school work. It costs just £0.69 to download (£0.42p goes to the school).
Possibly the first app by UK students in Apple’s iTunes Store
It is thought to be one of the first apps designed by UK students to appear in the iTunes Store. “It took longer than we expected because of the research needed, and because of problems with Mac software and hardware problems,” said Ryan King. “I am excited and feel proud of what we have achieved. At one point i didn’t think we would get this far, due to the many problems we had with the Mac we were using. I feel that the app will make a difference to some of the students at Saltash.net. Once it is released to the public it could also be helpful to students and teachers from other schools across the nation.
“Students like myself prefer to use electronic devices rather than paper planners, as it is a lot easier to carry – a much more convenient and familiar platform for organising the school day, without having to carry another thick book around.
“With the app in a store in front of more than 200 million iOS users, I believe that the app could be downloaded many times across the world. As iOS are the biggest software market, the app could generate revenue for Apple (30 per cent) and for the school, (70 per cent). It could also help fund future purchases of the iOS licence for future projects.”
Both Ryan and Ethan said they had experienced a lot of positive feedback from friends, family members and teachers
They had worked on Etable at school and at home. Ryan was able to use English media coursework for some of the development and both of them felt that the skills they gained helped them with their other work.
It was Jimmy Edwards, a Saltash.net Microsoft Innovative teacher, who sparked the initial brainstorming and support. He explained, “The idea for the app came about when Ryan and Ethan where talking about some new software they were using to create apps. We started talking about how it would be good to create an app that every student could use and would be beneficial to the students using it. We decided that the thing students would use most was an interactive timetable which would also allow the students to add any homework they might be given.
‘The final product far exceeds all our expectations’
“We drew up several designs which we thought make a good layout for the app. After several redesigns we decided on one particular layout. The final product that Ryan and Ethan have put together far exceeds all our expectations. Ryan and Ethan have worked incredibly hard on the development of this app, which I am confident will be a huge success and used by not only our students but other students who want to carry their timetable around with them electronically on their portable devices.
“I am incredibly proud of what Ryan and Ethan have achieved and I believe they truly have a bright future ahead of them. They are a testimony to the resourcefulness and creativity of today’s young people and I hope they continue to develop these skills in whatever path they chose.”
Teacher Dave Garland, who has since left Saltash.net helped the students get initial funding, and then his colleague Adam Ledger helped them get the Apple licence.
Saltash.net Community School has a well-earned reputation for innovation with ICT. Deputy headteacher Dan Roberts, himself a Microsoft education evangelist whose role was to oversee the project, registered the pride the school takes in students’ achievements. He said, “Our whole school community is extremely proud of what Ryan and Ethan have achieved, they certainly have a bright and successful future ahead of them.
“What they have produced in their own time demonstrates true effective 21st century learning at its best. They have been creative, resourceful, resilient and have embraced new technology as young entrepreneurs which is the approach to education that the school works hard to provide for all our young people.
‘It certainly is an exciting time to be a teacher or a student’
“The education system faces irrelevance unless we bridge the gap between how students live and how they learn outside the classroom to in the classroom. I think what our students have created is evidence of just how young people today are more aware of the world and eager to embrace new ideas and try new technologies than we were when we were at school. It certainly is an exciting time to be a teacher or a student.”
Ryan has now left Saltash.net and hopes to get work programming (he has plans for a learning app for a family member), while Ethan is concentrating on his A-level studies. But both of them hope to continue to contribute to Saltash.net Etable to develop it further, It could be bought and branded by other schools for example, and made available on other platforms. The Android version needs more work to get it into the Android Market.
“My interest has had an effect on what I want to do now I have left school,” added Ryan. “I would like to gain a job in programming mobile applications and interface designing. But jobs like this are hard to find around Saltash and the local area.”
Hoping that the app will inspire other students to get designing their own apps, Saltash.net headteacher Isobel Bryce said, "Ryan and Ethan have worked extremely hard on the development of this app alongside studying for their GCSE examinations. They really do deserve every success with this venture. I am certain that the students at Saltash.net will be able to benefit greatly from this study resource and will, I am sure, be very impressed with the fact that it was designed by two of their peers. Hopefully it will inspire other students to follow in Ryan and Ethan’s footsteps."
Saltash.net Community School
Saltash.net Etable goes live at the Apple iTunes Store on Thursday September 8
Ryan King on Twitter (@gromfrog)
Ryan King’s website
Ethan Pearce on Twitter (@ethanthebean)
Jimmy Edwards on Twitter (@jimmy_edwards)
Dave Garland on Twitter (@thegreatgar)
Dan Roberts on Twitter (@chickensaltash)
Isobel Bryce pn Twitter (@issybryce10)
Saltash.net on Twitter (@Saltashdotnet)