Published: Dec 11, 2012 06:00 PM
Modified: Dec 11, 2012 05:48 PM
I was fascinated by a news article I read recently about how the mobile-application industry is looking to hire more workers.
Since 2007, the app economy has created nearly 500,000 jobs in the United States, up from zero. Finally, good news! And next year, mobile app developers can expect pay increases of 9 percent, according to the article, putting them in the earning range of $92,000 to $133,000 a year.
Forget soccer where do I sign my kid up for that?
If you dont know, app stands for application and basically works like user-installed software on your computer, but its for a smart phone or other mobile device. Many apps are games; others provide information, like recipes or where to find the cheapest gas in your area or the closest restaurant or bank. Were fortunate that in this area, some local high schools have excellent technology programs.
Last year, Apex High School was selected by the National Academy Foundation, which fosters partnerships between businesses and schools, and Lenovo, which has its headquarters in Morrisville, to offer a self-guided Android Application Development course.
Its a free 12-week after-school course to teach students how to design and market mobile applications.
Apex was one of just five schools in the test market, joining schools from New York, Los Angeles, Connecticut and Texas. The class was launched online earlier this year through Carnegie Mellon University, so students didnt have direct contact with professors, which can pose a challenge.
It was successful for students who were willing or able to learn new coding to write an app with group members following through on the marketing/research part of the project, says Apex High School principal Matt Wight. For those who needed more help, it wasnt successful, as we didnt have teachers with the knowledge or time to teach it after school.
Self-reliance seems to be part of the learning curve when it comes to teaching students emerging technology. Apex High launched its Academy of Information Technology in 2001, and its been wildly popular each year a lottery system is used because there are always more applicants than the 90 spots.
But Wight admits its a challenge to keep the curriculum current.
Its hard to have an IT academy in a public school system and keep up with the changes, he says. We are required to follow state curriculum that isnt updated as often as it needs to be, so we are constantly looking to third-party curriculum vendors like the National Academy Foundation to try and keep up with industry and job demands. While we cant cover everything, we believe that if we teach students how to learn, they quickly pick up new technology they are exposed to in internships, college and careers after college.
So until technology is firmly rooted in our public-school curriculum, a large part of embracing it is going to be up to the students. Parents can help, Wight says, by engaging kids in activities that foster an attitude of excitement about learning new things.
Our hope is that the academy continues to push the envelope with regards to preparing our students for life and college in the 21st century, Wight says.
And that the kids continue to push themselves.