New York City’s Gap App Technology Winners Announced

The Gap App challenge, a software development competition put on by the New York City Department of Education, announced its winners this week for promising education technology solutions. The competition was specifically searching for developers to create programs that could help raise currently dismal middle school math scores, reports Anika Anand from GothamSchools.

The competition kicked off in January and received a total of 200 apps that were examined and analyzed by a panel of judges.

KnowRe took first place in the “Best Instructional App” category. The developers created an adaptive learning platform that personalizes questions to the needs of each individual learner based on how they answered previous questions. The program breaks up each mathematical equation into steps and monitors how the student answers each step and how long it took them. This allows the program to target and more easily fix the student’s problem areas.

The top-rated developer in the “Best Administrative and Engagement App” was Hapara, which consists of an interface that allows teachers to oversee their student’s work with ease. The program creates a seamless interface using Google Apps allowing teachers to stay organized and maintain efficiency.

Second place for “Best Instructional App” went to Mathalicious, an app helps answer the age old question of “When am I going to use math in the real world?” by using real life scenarios that students are interested in. They incorporate organizations such as Nike, Apple and the NBA into their math problems to keep students engaged.

LiveSchool took second place in the “Best Administrative and Engagement App”. It allows administrators and teachers to keep track of student behavior including attendance, participation and assignment tracking to allow teachers to focus more on education and less on paperwork.

Steven Kinney, a middle and high school programming teacher at Scholars Academy in Rockaway Park, served as one of the judges in the competition. He stressed the importance of teacher feedback on these programs.

“This is the first time where it’s very explicit that we’re involving teachers in the process and we’re looking for apps that get back to the core of why anyone became a teacher, things that allow them to leverage technology, to work faster and more efficiently so they can focus their time on creating great lessons,” Kinney said.

The First place winners each won $15,000 in cash, and second places winners walked away with $5,000. They also received $6,000 in Amazon Web Service credits. Although only nine winners are going home with the prizes provided by the Anthony Meyer Foundation, 164 of the apps qualified to be utilized in Innovation Zone schools.

Over the next few months iZone schools, which consist primarily of middle and high schools that focus on personalized learning, will be able to choose which apps they would like to implement into their curriculum.

The cost of the apps is dependent on the number of schools that wish to implement them as well as which products they choose. The apps themselves are fairly low cost overall, but a larger cost will come into play if schools do not already have the existing technology to run them.

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