Calculate This: Apps, NYC Style

Calculate This: Apps, NYC Style

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Way back in January, the New York City Dept. of Education issued its "Gap App Challenge" to edtech'ers: Build us some apps, particularly ones that will help close the middle-school math achievement gap. The community answered, submitting close to 200 ideas. (Want to check out the submissions yourself? Scroll through them here.) 

The prizes include $50,000 in cash and another $54K in Amazon Web Services credits. The bigger carrot? Some of the apps will get to build pilot programs that will run in some of New York City's 250 iZone schools.

Next week, NYC takes another step toward getting some of these programs in the hands of kids and teachers.

A team of 10 teachers, 10 Common Core Fellows, 3 experts from the Dept. of Ed, and five external judges plowed through the applications to select nine top ideas. (The judges were: Matt Greenfield (RethinkEducation), Dan Maccarone (Charming Robot), Alexis Ohanian (Reddit and hipmunk), Kara Swisher (All Things Digital), and Tom Vander Ark (GettingSmart)). They evaluated the submissions based on the quality--creativity and originality--of the idea, on the user experience, namely the graphics and visual aesthetic, on its potential impact, on whether teachers would find it appealing, and on how well it integrates Common Core standards. 

The results are due to be announced next week. Soon after, the Dept. of Ed will tap some of the app developers--both from the "winners" group and from other submissions--to build pilot tests for some of New York's iZone schools. 

The goal, points out NYC's Steven Hodas, is not just to come up with a handful of new programs--but to create a process for developing applications that give teachers more of a voice.

Check out this event next Wednesday evening, May 29, in New York City, where you will hear about the competition, the submissions and winners--and what will happen next.

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