“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
It’s a common question children are asked to respond to without much prior knowledge or experience with ‘being’ much more than a child. A child could respond with ‘teacher,’ without realizing that ‘being a teacher’ in the present would be a different experience from ‘being a teacher’ when they grow up. As a child, I never would have imagined that being a teacher would have had responsibilities beyond, well,–‘teaching.’
Yet decades later, I have become a teacher, but not like I thought I would.
The job description for a modern-day teacher would be incomplete without mentioning all the little tasks that teachers do on a minute-by-minute basis. We collect data on student understanding and make split second decisions based on analysis of that data. We implement technology into our classroom to achieve feats not possible before, and we provide technical support when things don’t work out. We record videos of our teaching and launch novel, engaging activities in class to support each lesson. The modern-day teacher has redefined what it looks like for teachers to teach, and what it looks like for students to learn.
But I foresee another wave of change on its way that goes beyond introducing technology into the classroom. It not only impacts teachers, but every career path.
For every job that exists today, there exists an opportunity to create solutions for that job with coding. An apprentice doctor equipped with coding could develop a method to minimize data duplicated for every new office a patient visits. A young carpenter could develop an app that analyzes photos of a job site to write an estimate in real-time. A veteran football coach could develop an app for demonstrating plays and tracking player performance. In all three cases, the subject had paired expert knowledge of their field with coding. And in all cases, the subject solved a problem relevant to their needs with a solution engineered by their own ability.
I have become a teacher-developer.
With the knowledge I had acquired as a Master of Arts in Teaching and the low-code platform Microsoft PowerApps at my fingertips, I had arrived at a crossroads in which I have been able to build apps for my classroom. They aren’t the ordinary apps that ask and answer. My apps provide visuals that connect concrete-level understanding to abstract concepts. My apps enable teachers to make more informed decisions during their instruction than spending time after school to do the same. My apps encourage and even require the involvement of an adult against the culture of app-usage that separates child and parent. My apps leverage educational research.
All of my success became possible when the input language of coding became simplified enough for an ordinary person to start. Having reflected on the solutions I have been able to create as someone who had no prior coding education, I have embarked on a quest to to empower others to do the same.
The age of the citizen developer is here. It’s time to create the apps that we need, not settle with the apps that we have.