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.
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.