In September 2016, some 200,000 pupils at 1700 state-run schools had a tablet computer, a PC or a hybrid device. At the same time, school syllabuses are changing and now include coding – being taught under a wide range of different names, such as the study of algorithms, the basics of digital technologies or even IT. Digital technologies are forcing their way into debates about education – both in the adoption of educational apps and for teaching coding at school. Wakanda can help with both these aims.

I’d first like to take this opportunity to discuss developing mobile apps again. Teaching coding is covered in a separate post.

E-learning is getting a great deal of attention. Many companies have stepped into the breach and developed a whole “catalog” of applications designed to “digitize” teaching. The scope is, admittedly, very wide: everything from the teaching of foreign languages to first language acquisition, learning vocabulary, teaching history and geography, learning about the arts and getting to grips with mathematics, as well as support for more “administrative” tasks, such as managing the relationship between the school and parents.

Anyone Can Develop an App

And why shouldn’t teachers themselves be able to develop the apps that they think they will need? The general feeling in companies is that the people involved in the relevant business lines are in the best position to design the applications that are needed, and teachers are also able to autonomously create the mobile apps they need so they can rethink their approach to teaching at school.

They don’t need to be experts in coding, development, graphics or ergonomic design to create their own mobile apps.

Create A Complete Working Environment

There are six phases involved in creating one’s own app:

  1. Design
  2. Graphics & Ergonomics
  3. Development
  4. Testing
  5. Deployment
  6. Maintenance & Upgrades

Before they can create their app, teachers need a platform that can manage each one of the above phases, while at the same time keeping the amount of development work needed to a minimum so that those who are new to app creation don’t have to rely on others for help.

This is one of the things that Wakanda sets out to provide.

Make it More Straightforward for Teachers Themselves to Develop Mobile Apps

Wakanda is what is called a full-stack open source platform: it covers the whole value chain involved in creating an app. You have access to a complete working environment which simplifies all the steps involved in creating your mobile or web app for iOS or Android devices – from design all the way through to deployment.

Wakanda’s philosophy? Automate what can be automated and provide the tools needed to speed up the development process. The idea is to make creating a mobile app as straightforward as it is to create a website using a CMS (Content Management System), such as WordPress, Joomla!, Drupal, etc.

With Wakanda, teachers have access to a selection of graphic templates featuring rich, complex, varied and modern structures and themes that they can use to design their apps.

Mobile app development is made even easier by:

  • The use of a single programming language – JavaScript – for the whole development phase. So with Wakanda, you can use whatever development environment you like (Angular, Ionic, etc.), you can connect your app to a database and you can easily publish it. Usually, technologies based on different languages are used in all of these stages. With Wakanda, they are all unified within JavaScript. You use the same single working environment with the same interface and the same tools.
  • Wakanda automates everything that can be automated so as to make the coding process more straightforward and faster. For example, a whole ready-to-use code library is available. Certain app admin tasks are automated to make maintenance easier.

Give Preference to Open Source Technologies and Stay Agnostic

Another advantage that this type of platform has is the ease with which your app can be upgraded. Once you’ve launched it, you’ll most likely want to make improvements to certain features and functions, or add others. With Wakanda, you have complete control over how your app evolves – from making changes to its design to adding new functions or improving existing ones, etc.

Once you have created your app, you will need to deploy it so it can be accessed by as many people as possible, without being constrained by the type of devices they are using. Wakanda’s promise? You develop your app once, then you roll it out to every kind of device. In fact, you can develop your app for mobile devices or the web, or you can create a hybrid version for both that will work with iOS and Android. Then you publish your app to the Cloud.

As far as technologies are concerned, you remain agnostic: Wakanda is an open source platform and is involved in developing free software for use in government and education.

All you have to do is get started: in another post, we will talk about how you can develop your app in 4 weeks.

Wakanda’s simplicity is an asset when it comes to creating one’s own app for people who are new to development. It’s also a useful tool for teaching JavaScript to one’s pupils. We’ll talk about that in another post.

Also published on Medium.