The Federico II University in Naples is the world’s oldest public university. It also hosts the Developer Academy where students learn to develop apps for iphones. Every year some 400 students are selected for the 9-month course. In its third year, the course is the result of private and public cooperation between Apple and national and local institutions supported by the EU's Cohesion policy. The methodology? Challenges.
"The main benefit of the Challenge Based Learning methodology, that we are using here,” says mentor Moritz Philip Recke, “Is that they (the students) are actually working on real problems, real in the sense that is real for them, but also in a sense that is real as an actual problem that exists in the world"
The apps range from gaming to medicine and services. The programme combines coding and app design with an emphasis on the creativity and collaborative skills that students like Roberta will need in their future jobs.
"The way we work here is based on meeting challenges,” says student Roberta Milano. “We never have the perception of being a winner or a loser, as we’re the ones who vote for the projects we like most, justifying our choices on realistic criteria".
Teachers encourage students to take a collaborative approach for example by solving technical issues through discussion.
"You just talk to the people, you do your own research and try to figure out what is the best for your group, for yourself, for your app," says student Louis Hon.
The students are mainly from Italy but also around the world, the goal : to attract people from a variety of backgrounds.
"One aspect that we insisted on was not to have a school only for nerds or geeks,” says Giorgio Ventre, Director of the Academy . “Students here provide us a glimpse of what Europe and the world are today, and help us organize our training activities in accordance with the way they are".
Students acquires skills in designing, developing and configuring apps But their personal development is just as important.
"We try to do other kind of activities for our students, so they can learn while they practise,” says mentor Francini Carvalho. “They are in an environment where it safe to fail, because they have us to help them, to try to guide them and in this way to develop their own thinking..."