Abstract Dick Ng’ambi

Empowering citizen developers – a case of using empathy in creative and innovative mobile app development sandpits

Dick Ng’ambi, Founder and Director – Educational Technology Inquiry Lab (ETILAB), University of Cape Town

One of the challenges facing resource-constrained environments is a proliferation of smartphones, lack of skills to develop mobile apps, high cost of professional mobile app development and there are no interventions to change the tide. Both communities and businesses, particularly the small to medium scale businesses have had two options: a) use generic apps which are often not customisable, or b) not use the technology. Globally, there are two emerging phenomenon: the citizen developers and the mobile app development platform (MADP) with low or without writing any programming code. Both the citizen developer and MADP are not new but have reached levels of maturity that their potential in resource constrained contexts make logical sense. The empathy-driven MAD without code has shown to enhance creativity within multi-disciplinary teams and allow members of such teams to serve as citizen developers who rapidly build apps, obtain feedback from ‘clients’(peers) whereby shifting dispositions of both the citizen developer and their community (world). I present a sandpit model for empowering non-technical people to acquire mobile app design and development skills, that allows for usable yet simple apps to be developed without programming skills.

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