MODULE 1: Technology for Social Good: Technovation and becoming a tech entrepreneur - Introduction to the program

Welcome to Technovation Australia! This module is supported by the student and mentor workbook.

This 6-module course is run by the Tech Girls Movement and Code the Future, and is designed to help those wanting to implement the Technovation curriculum. Over six modules we will outline the Technovation program for youth entrepreneurs, with tips on how to implement it in the classroom or a tech club. Thanks to Google Australia for the funds to develop these materials.

OVERVIEW of the TEchnovation program

Technovation is a charity in the US who run an annual youth tech entrepreneurship program for school girls around the world, which culminates in a global pitch where the top 10 teams pitch their apps in San Francisco. Technovation make their curriculum for the program available for free, and we at the Tech Girls Movement are the regional ambassadors for the program. We primarily implement the program in Australia through the annual competition Search for the Next Tech Girl Superhero, however we also help to implement it in classroom environments at any time during the year. For instance, we implemented it into a Year 9 Geography class focused on humanitarianism - using technology and in particular, apps, to solve humanitarian challenges.

The program is structured to run for 12 weeks, with weekly tasks, activities and deliverables. There is also a detailed judging rubric available to those who want to use it. There is no cost associated with participating in the program. Find out more about the Tech Girls Movement here in this short video.

Watch the #codegirl documentary based on the worldwide Technovation program here. Our goal is to get representation from Australia in the global competition and before 2016 there were no entries from Australia. In 2016 there are 14 entries from Australia because of the Search for the Next Tech Girl Superhero.

Key to the program

  • Teams, mentors and coaches do no need to know how to build an app! The program is designed for all involved to learn how to build an app prototype together. Find out more info about roles in the program here.
  • Forming teams of students: Technovation encourages teams of 3-5 girls however we have experienced teams of 1 and they have done very well (read about 9yo NSW Finalist Emma Yap from 2015 and 12yo Sara Price winner from 2014 who sold 20 000 copies of her app!). Bringing together complimentary skills is emphasised, as is working together.
  • Coaches guide the teams through the program: Acting as a local contact for teams, they act as project managers keeping the team on track.
  • Match teams with a mentor who works in the tech industry: We at the Tech Girls Movement and Code the Future can help to match teams with mentors. Mentors act as role models and talk about what is a typical day at work with the aim to dispel the myth that tech work is boring, monotonous, and solitary in nature. We encourage mentors to meet with their teams for one hour online each week via Hangouts or Skype.
  • Problem-focused: Teams find a problem in their local community they want to solve. Once the problem is defined, teams work on brainstorming possible solutions and how they could be implemented through an app. An equal balance of creativity in problem solving and technology expertise is encouraged.
  • Technology for social good: Teams focus on a problem that has social implications. Research suggests that girls like the application of technology in other areas and not just technology for technology's sake. 
  • The program is designed to be run completely online. In the Search for the Next Tech Girl Superhero, we have teams and mentors from all over Australia. We attempt to match teams with mentors close in geography when we can.
  • Be part of a global community: Working in tech is seen to be isolating so we emphasise that those participating in the program are part of a wider global community. Women working in tech may not be very visible but they do exist and the program connects teams with industry, thus we aim to break down outdated stereotypes and who works in tech, what they look like and what they do to make a difference to the world.

TECHNOLOGY NEEDED

  • Internet access
  • Gmail account – This is what you’ll use to log into App Inventor at ai2.appinventor.mit.edu.
  • Computer (Recommended Mac OS X v10.7 or newer)
  • An Android phone to emulate the prototype (recommended by not necessary)

OVERVIEW OF THE PROGRAM - WEEKS 1-3

Below are the topics for the first 3 weeks of the program. The focus is on getting familiar with the program and understanding expectations of teams, coaches and mentors, defining a solvable problem, and researching other solutions to the problem. It is necessary to consider the target audience, their wants, needs and desires.

 

ACTIVITIES IN THE PROGRAM - WEEKS 1-3

Introduction to Technovation

 

BRAINSTORMING

It's important to hear from everyone on your team, and make space for everyone’s ideas.
Wild or unexpected ideas can sometimes lead to really creative app ideas. It's important to make sure that every team member is included and that you start with a large pool of ideas. You can identify common threads between these ideas and you'll really get your creative muscles moving by considering many options. 

It's important to hear from everyone on your team, and make space for everyone’s ideas.
Wild or unexpected ideas can sometimes lead to really creative app ideas. It's important to make sure that every team member is included and that you start with a large pool of ideas. You can identify common threads between these ideas and you'll really get your creative muscles moving by considering many options. 

For more suggestions on how to brainstorm creatively, explore these additional videos and activities:

REMEMBER TO DEVELOP A SOLUTION SUITED TO MOBILE DEVICES

There are multiple solutions to every problem, but strong Technovation submission apps are apps that solve problems by making the most of mobile technology.

After you brainstorm and start to group your ideas and develop some them more fully, ask the following questions of each app idea: 

  1. Does it leverage the unique technology configurations of a mobile phone - i.e location features (GPS), accelerometer, vibration features, text messaging and cameras?
  2. Does it have ONE single goal/function or purpose?
  3. Does the App lend itself to touch features and navigation with thumbs and fingers?

If you answered yes, then your app idea is suited to being a mobile app! If not, then making a website to solve the problem might be more appropriate. In this case, you will need to go back to brainstorming to identify problems that can be uniquely solved through a mobile phone app.

GET INSPIRED: APP IDEA EXAMPLES

To help illustrate the points above, we picked a few apps ideas and explained why they are strong mobile apps, or how they can be tweaked to be more mobile-focused. You can also see the 2015 Search for the Next Tech Girl Superhero pitches here.

  • Strong Mobile App Idea: An app-hardware pair to make it easier for working parentets to track a sick child's temperature, or monitor the temperature of older individuals living alone. The app is paired with a scarf. If the temperature of the user wearing the scarf passes a certain threshold, the app calls the user's caregiver. The wearer's temperature is also tracked for future reference. This app has a dedicated function -- measuring temperature -- and makes use of a mobile phone's call functionality. 
  • Strong Mobile App Idea: An app to help teenagers become more informed global citizens by providing regular updates on global news. The app provides up-to-date information regarding the world’s economy, politics, social structures and environment in the form of simply-written, brief articles. The app is targeted at teenagers, and makes use of mobile technology to meet this audience where they spend their time -- on smartphones and other electronic devices.
  • Strong Mobile App Idea: An app that crowd sources help during medical emergencies.According to USA Today, emergency medical systems save only 6-10% of cardiac arrest victims, though a large population is trained in CPR/BLS/ACLS. This app provides a framework to connect people in emergency situations with trained volunteers to increase their chance of survival. With a button click, it automatically calls 911, messages user’s family/friends and notifies volunteers nearby who might reach the user faster than 911. This app makes use of a mobile phone's call functionality as well as its GPS functionality, making it a strong submission.
  • An idea better suited for a website: An app that helps volunteers search for local opportunities and connects community members in need of assistance with those volunteers is an interesting idea, but because it is not time sensitive, this idea could be executed using a website. It is unclear what this idea's dedicated functionality is. If the function is to find local opportunities, that can happen through a website. However, if this idea explored the need to community with community members or fellow volunteers on the go, that would be a stronger mobile app. It has one clear function and is suited to a mobile device.

DEFINING THE ISSUE

Design a survey for the idea you settled on from the Ideation session. See the example.

  • 10 minutes to list questions.
  • Write as many questions as you can think of for the person who you think has the issue you came up with.
  • What would you ask your ideal customer?
  • Good surveys are short.
  • Pick the top 5-7 questions on your list.
  • Multiple choice questions with checkboxes are easier for people to answer.
  • You can allow for more than one answer.

Page 10 in the Student Workbook has space for you to write down questions. You can type up and print your surveys to hand out or you can also use a service like Survey Monkey to create a survey and then email it out for people to fill out. Have at least 20 people take your survey. More survey results is better. Also feel free to just talk to people and take notes. Get some video footage if you can. This may be helpful for your final pitch video.

CONSIDER:

  • What do you want to know about your target user?
  • What problem does your app solve?
  • What groups of people have these problems?
  • How big is this group(s) of people (i.e. your market)?
  • Where is there a need for your app?
  • What currently fills that need?
  • If your app existed, would people use it? How often?
  • Who would be willing to pay for it and how much would they pay?
  • Which features are most important for your app to have?
  • Does your target audience have the problem that you think they have?
  • Is your solution (your app) the only solution to the problem? 

Watch our showcase event from the 2015 Search for the Next Tech Girl Superhero