App Development for Natspec Members

We’re looking forward to taking part in the Natspec National Conference 2022 along with Derwen College. Natspec members can license the apps we’ve built in collaboration with Derwen – including the CV Builder, Work Support suite and Work Ready apps – either in their existing format or with the option to customise the apps to your own branding, curriculum and specialist requirements. Find out more below. You can hear more about our partnership with Derwen College in the YouTube video – click here

 

You can view a TechAbility webinar about the apps here, as part of Helen Edwards from Derwen College’s presentation to Natspec about the app development project – click here

 

We can also discuss any custom-build mobile apps or web apps you might be considering – for example transition apps, timetable apps, and Assessment apps. Please contact [email protected] or [email protected].ac.uk to discuss your ideas, and we can put together a package for your college.

CV Builder App

The CV Builder app has generated a lot of interest. Students can choose ‘soft’ skills from a list using simple words and Makaton symbols, with the ability to add content and demonstrate their skills through text, and video evidence.

 

Potential employers really benefit from seeing students who might not perform well at interview demonstrating their skills. Students can:

 

  • Create an account to log in
  • ‘Make my CV’ – filling in personal and contact details
  • Upload a photo of themselves
  • Choose soft skills from a dropdown list with Makaton* symbol prompts
  • Add information about what they like to do in their spare time 
  • Add areas of work experience and relevant skills
  • Create links to private YouTube videos to evidence their skills
  • Add details of schools and colleges, qualifications gained, and upload images of certificates
  • You can then add a mock interview and referees 
  • The app generates a pdf CV which can be viewed online and shared to an email address, which then receives a link to access the CV

There is a web-based ‘back end’ to enable staff to ‘tidy up’ and manage the CVs which is hosted in a secure database environment. The app can be used for students to start inputting their content as soon as they start college and add to it throughout their time at college to build up their portfolio of evidence.

 

Sam Brown, of Derwen College, said that, “The CV Builder app has enabled students to become more independent and is an inclusive tool to enable students at any level to demonstrate their abilities.” From a college perspective, creating a CV and getting the concept across to students can be  quite hard work, and students have found the process easier, more intuitive and are really enjoying using it.

 

The app can be used in its existing format with Derwen’s curriculum pathways and skills areas, or it can be customised to your college’s curriculum areas. If you need a bespoke solution for your college, we can develop a custom-build solution.

 

Contact us to discuss how the CV Builder app can work for your students.

* Use subject to relevant licence from The Makaton Charity or Widget

'Working In...' suite of vocational training apps

Starfish Labs have developed a suite of ‘Working In…’ apps based around Derwen College’s curriculum pathways. Currently branded for the following pathways, the apps can be adapted to your own college’s curriculum areas and branding.

 

  • Working in Hospitality
  • Working in Retail
  • Working in Horticulture
  • Working in a Printshop

The apps are all based around our custom ‘app engine’ which enables you to easily create your own content for tasks as step-by-step guides using pictures, videos, and Makaton* or Widget* symbols depending on your requirements, using a smartphone or tablet.

 

The vocational training pathways currently include Working in a Café, Working in Retail, Working in Horticulture and Working in a Printshop, but can be adapted for any area of the curriculum and are not limited to those vocational pathways. Whatever you need – we can adapt the system to work for you!

 

The apps enable students to learn and remember a task, or to follow the step-by-step sequence needed to complete the task while they are carrying it out. Tasks can be customised to your (or the work placement’s) own procedures for learning tasks or for customers’ orders such as customer service, preparing and serving food and drinks, etc. enabling them to learn skills that are transferable to supported employment. The apps incorporate pictures, video, symbols and simple sentences – breaking down the tasks into small steps that are easy to follow.

 

  • Create, save and share step-by-step guides for each task
  • No limit to the number of tasks you can create or the steps within each task
  • Ability to customise tasks for your own processes
  • Easy to understand and follow user interface design
  • Ability to use Makaton* or Widget* symbols
  • Tasks held on a main database for download to individual device
  • Ability to create custom tasks for particular students and hide other tasks
  • Ability to group tasks by colour coding and re-order into groups of related tasks
  • Does not require internet connection once tasks are downloaded to the device
  • Use your School AppStore or Google Play account to deploy to specific devices
  • Ability to use licence keys to enable secure use by students when they leave college
  • Works on Apple iOS and Android – on smartphone or tablet
  • Secure hosting and database backup

The creation of tasks can be incorporated into the curriculum – enabling students to create the steps they need to learn and  remember on their own device with support from a teacher, or tasks can be created by staff and deployed to multiple devices.

 

Contact us to discuss how the apps can work for your students – improving communication of simple through to complex tasks be creating personal and relevant content, and making learning accessible and fun through technology.

 

* Use subject to relevant licence from The Makaton Charity or Widget

Work Ready App

Work Ready is a calendar based planning app that can be used to create daily plans and reminders for independent living, timekeeping skills and journey planning, based around planning for work experience or supported employment.

  

  • Create, save and share step-by-step guides for each task or reminder
  • No limit to the number of tasks you can create or the steps within each task
  • Set up notifications and reminders
  • Ability to customise tasks for groups or individual students
  • Easy to understand and intuitive user interface design
  • Ability to use Makaton* or Widget* symbols
  • Tasks can be uploaded to a secure database for download to individual devices
  • Ability to create custom tasks for particular students and hide other tasks
  • Ability to group tasks by colour coding and re-order into groups of related tasks
  • Does not require internet connection once tasks are downloaded to the device**
  • Emergency features to ask for help and prompts for what to do in various scenarios
  • Ability to contact named individuals in case of emergency or if help is needed
  • What3Words enabled to enable students to easily share their location via SMS
  • Use your School AppStore or Google Play account to deploy to specific devices
  • Ability to use licence keys to enable secure use by students when they leave college
  • Works on Apple iOS and Android – on smartphone or tablet
  • Secure hosting and database backup

The creation of tasks can be incorporated into the curriculum – enabling students to create the steps they need to learn and remember on their own device with support from a teacher, or tasks can be created by staff and deployed to multiple devices.

 

Contact us to discuss how the apps can work for your students – improving communication of simple through to complex tasks be creating personal and relevant content, and making learning accessible and fun through technology.

 

* Use subject to relevant licence from The Makaton Charity or Widget. **Use of what3words features requires mobile phone signal or WiFi connection

Custom built apps

We can work with you to develop your ideas for new apps specific to your needs.

 

An example of this is the Premier Inn app we developed with Derwen College.

 

This native iOS and Android app involved working with the global hotel chain Premier Inn’s housekeeping staff training manual and converting it to a mobile app that would help people with learning difficulties and disabilities to follow the steps needed to prepare a hotel room for guests. Working with Derwen College teachers and students, we created an app that gives the learner the choice of using video and sound – combining video and verbal instructions, Makaton symbols and text, or a series of pictures and text, or all three options, on a split screen, to follow Premier Inn’s processes to make up a room to consistent standards.

 

Initially being used in the College’s training hotel, Hotel 765, which has been purpose bult and fitted out by Premier Inn, the app has been a great success and is now being used by former students who have secured employment with Premier Inn after leaving the college. This type of training app could also be used for staff who do not speak the native language of the organisation to help them learn specific processes.

 

We have recently updated the original app to reflect the changes in procedures adopted by Premier Inn as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic – an example of how apps can be adapted to changes in training requirements to communicate them effectively to students with SEND.

 

  • Choice of learning method – video and sound, Makaton* and text, or photos and text
  • Varying levels of detail for students with different abilities
  • ‘Gamification’ element to measure learning outcomes

 

Contact us to discuss how developing your own custom apps can work for your students. We can also contribute ideas from our experience in other sectors. If you can think it, we can make it work!

 

* Use subject to relevant licence from The Makaton Charity

 

 

Our apps are award winning! Our client Derwen College has won the NASEN Innovation Award for Technology and the Natspec Award for Innovation in Technology, along with other regional and national awards for the suite of apps we’ve developed in partnership with them to help young people with learning difficulties and disabilities to get into work!