The idea for ‘EduApps’ came about when a small team from the JISC Regional Support Centre Scotland North & East (disbanded in July 2011) discussed the use of portable applications and how freely available ‘apps’ could be used to support learners with additional needs. The concept of using portable applications within an educational environment was not new – members of the team had used portable applications in previous teaching positions and there were commercially available examples in the marketplace.
Craig Mill, then e-Learning Advisor for the Centre with remit for accessibility and inclusion, decided to put together a specific package of applications aimed at learners with additional needs, which the team decided to call ‘AccessApps’. Once the prototype had been put together (utilising existing freeware and open source applications) and trialled with contacts within the Scottish Further Education community, the Centre approched its partner Centre located in Glasgow and JISC TechDis to promote the package to contacts. Both contributed funds to purchase a number of USB sticks which featured the logos of the three organisations and proceeded to distribute the packages to contacts.
The JISC Regional Support Centre Scotland North & East maintained a website presence to allow users to download the AccessApps package for themselves, and later went on to develop a number of other suites LearnApps (for students) and TeachApps (for teaching staff) using the same format, but with different applications. MyStudyBar and others followed – these new packages taking advantage of a new interface developed by Craig Mill and Martin Hawksey.
With a growing number of tools, the team decided to come up with a name that could be used to describe all of them collectively – and so the name ‘EduApps‘ was born.
With the demise of the JISC Regional Support Centre Scotland North & East, some of the original team formed a company, Soffed, that would continue the work of maintaining and developing the EduApps packages. As the brand had been established while we were funded by JISC, some conditions have been put upon us to permit the continued use of the name. Therefore, in grateful recognition of previous funding and support we publish the following statement from JISC: “The EduApps family is the result of an initiative supported jointly from its inception by JISC TechDis and the JISC Regional Support Centres. It consists of over 50 Open Source and freeware Windows applications, capable of running from a USB stick.”
Soffed remains committed to developing EduApps and will release new versions of the packages in the forthcoming months.