Louth students cross the generation gap with app innovations

20 May 2013

Lisa McGowan from Scoil Uí Mhuirí, Dunleer, Co Louth; older participant Pat Kilboy from Blackrock, Co Louth; Barrett Akpotor from St Oliver's Community College, Drogheda; and Nadine Weldon from Scoil Uí Mhuirí, at Dundalk Institute of Technology

Transition-year students from four schools in Co Louth have been involved in a unique project with adults in the region to come up with prototypes for four mobile apps that aim to cross the inter-generational divide.

The SANDPiT project involved 40 transition-year students and nine adults aged in their in their 60s and 70s who worked together to co-design the apps.

The group showcased their innovations at Dundalk Institute of Technology (DKIT) on Friday.

The apps include an emotional well-being app, an inter-generational quiz app, a community security app, and a ‘Don’t Panic’ app to get help for the elderly quickly following a fall.

The project was run by Louth VEC and the Casala applied research centre at DKIT. Casala’s Dr Julie Doyle, who specialises in human computer interaction research, worked with the group during a series of workshops that were held over nine months.

The Louth students hail from Scoil Uí Mhuirí in Dunleer; St Oliver’s Community College in Drogheda; O’Fiach College in Dundalk; and Bush Post Primary School in Cooley. They worked with the adults to develop the apps to prototype stage.

“We mixed up the generations on the teams and it was wonderful to see how they interacted,” said Doyle.

She said that when older people are using apps, aspects such as contrast, colour and text size need particular attention.

“Our plan is to have the more relevant projects developed into fully fledged apps and a number of DKIT students will be working on this during the summer,” added Doyle.

The project has also been shortlisted for an EU GoAct award for best practice in inter-generational learning.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic