January 21, 2013 By Tanya Roscorla
Following in the footsteps of other city government efforts, a New York City challenge is the first in the nation to crowdsource education apps at the district level.
The Gap App Challenge asks software developers to tackle problems in middle school math. Like other large urban districts, nearly half of New York City's middle school students are behind grade level in the subject.
While students in this diverse student body have shown significant improvement over the last decade, they still have room to grow, said Steven Hodas, executive director of Innovate NYC Schools at the New York City Department of Education. Students need targeted help, whether they're below, at or above grade level.
That's why 250 schools volunteered to personalize learning for each student through the department's iZone initiative. They've tried different learning techniques and school redesigns, but they can't solve the problem alone. In the future, the Education Department plans to offer a number of challenges that tackle different education issues.
"One of the things we're trying to do with Innovate is to build this sort of powerful, flexible engine for identifying problems and aiming solutions at them in effective ways," Hodas said.
This Digital Communities white paper highlights discussions with IT officials in four counties that have adopted shared services models. Our aim was to learn about the obstacles these governments have faced when it comes to shared services and what it takes to overcome those roadblocks. We also spoke with several members of the IT industry who have thought long and hard about these issues. The paper offers some best practices for shared government-to-government services, but also points out challenges that government and industry still must overcome before this model gains widespread adoption.