On January 12, the hallways of Desire2Learn (D2L) were buzzing with students eager to share their coding creations. Three classes from two high schools (Cameron Heights CI and Elmira District SS) and one elementary school (Park Manor PS) were invited to a Tech Fair at D2L’s head office. They proudly demonstrated the apps they had been working on this semester to D2L senior leaders and software developers. The D2L staff were noticeably impressed with the student’s creations. Nick Oddson, D2L’s Chief Technology Officer, had many words of encouragement and told the students, “you are the future.”

Teachers and staff, working with representatives from D2L and Ministry of Education, have developed a full semester project that challenges students to design and market their own technology apps.

“It’s about inspiring our students,” said Christine Ruza, a Computer Science teacher at Elmira District SS. “We want students to see that the device in their pocket is a tool and they are in charge of it to help solve a problem or make a difference.”

Grade 12 students from the Graphic Design and Computer Science programs at Cameron Heights SS collaborated on an app geared to help their fellow students. The app works as a student handbook that shows daily announcements, class schedules and guidance counsellor appointments. The app also holds student card information and will display a barcode for students to check-out books from the library.

Grade 8 students from Park Manor PS had an idea for an app that would allow them to play all their favorite retro arcade games on their smartphone. Grade 12 students in the Computer Science program at Elmira District SS students used their coding skills to bring this idea to life. They worked to mimic the tactile feeling of playing retro video games on the smooth screens of Apple devices.

As a part of this project, students have been working with project designers, developers, and graphic designers at D2L to understand what app development looks like in modern technology companies. The goal of this collaboration is to spark students’ curiosity and confidence. The chance to work with a team on innovative projects has been a rewarding experience. One students describes the project as “the hardest thing I have ever done, but also the most valuable.”