Monday, July 10, 2017

Paperless Hall Passes in School: There's a (Student Made) App For That

Visit mPass Website
Last year, one of our middle school teachers had an idea for a paperless hall pass. Since all of her students had iPads in our 1:1 program, she figured it would easier to use an app instead of paper. There are a lot of problems with paper passes, including the ability to easily track and manage how often students are using passes in each of their classes throughout a day (and for some, even attempting to take advantage of the system). Students used to have a page in their paper assignment planners for hall passes, but since that was eliminated and had gone digital, a new solution was needed. 

Seventh-grader Omar, center, developed the mPass iPad app.
Also pictured (l-r) Pete Dymit, MME Principal; Minnetonka Director of IT,
Mike Dronen; and Dave Eisenmann, Director of Instructional Technology
Another teacher, Michelle Brunik, heard about this idea and shared it with a former student, Omar, who was inspired to create it. He had used MIT's App Inventor back in sixth grade in her STEM class where he learned the program's easy to use drag and drop interface and made Android apps. Omar was part of a Coding Club after school and worked with an older student, Jacob, who helped him transfer the idea from an Android prototype to an iOS app using Swift and XCode. The students used the online lessons in Treehouse to learn Swift.

After the initial prototype, Omar found that the original code was not suitable enough for what was needed. So he started from scratch using Swift, Xcode and then integrated Firebase (which he learned on his own) to the mix to develop the app as it is today. He worked with members of our Technology Department to use XCode and publish the hall pass app to JAMF, the Mobile Device Management system for our iPads. 

Omar then presented the hall pass, called mPass, to all the teachers at his school at a staff meeting. Teachers tried it out for a week before rolling it out to all students. They figured out the number of passes that would be issued per quarter, the length of time allotted per pass, whether or not students using the pass would take or leave their iPad on their desk (showing the pass being used and time left to be gone), as well as decided on their rules for what happens if a student stays too long (the teacher can pull another pass). It was used successfully by 1,100 students this past spring and will be used again this coming school year.

Now with digital hall passes, teachers have data on how often kids are leaving class and can see this total by individual. It helps better track students, time limits, and eliminates the confusion of the unknown. Later this past spring, Omar surveyed teachers and students to get feedback and suggestions for features to add. Although students like the idea of a digital hall pass created by one of their own classmates, not all students like the accountability; they preferred the old method that made it easier to sneak out of class!

You can learn more about this project in the video above (starting at 59 seconds) or on Omar's website. mPass will soon be in the Apple App Store for commercial use for other schools for the upcoming school year. Check it out!

To learn more about Minnetonka coding program, Tonka Codes, please see these related articles below:

No comments:

Post a Comment