Mobile app challenge focuses on college and alternatives

app-challengeA new mobile app competition with backing from the Department of Education and the First Lady is hoping to promote enthusiasm for higher education, including career and technical schools. In particular, the challenge is looking for apps that help students learn about various career options and assess their interests.

“If students want to learn cutting-edge skills and prepare for successful careers, a four-year university isn’t their only choice. CTE is also an excellent option because students can get all the professional skills they need for a good job in a high-demand field, and they can do it at a fraction of the time and cost of a four-year school,” said First Lady Michelle Obama in a statement.

The apps should include integrated tools to assess student skills and interests, and offer information on occupations, education options, credentials, and career-seeking skills.

Mobile app developers, educators, and data mavens are encouraged to participate in the challenge. A panel of judges from education, technology and career guidance backgrounds will evaluate the submissions and recommend finalists and winner — or winners — for the challenge.

Supporting guidance counselors is another big goal. According to the Department of Education, which is spearheading the challenge, one in five high schools nationwide lacks a school counselor. In 2013, the national average student-to-school-counselor ratio for K-12 counselors was 482:1.

The deadline to submit an entry is December 6. Up to five entrants will be selected to advance as finalists. Finalists will be awarded $25,000 each and will have the opportunity to improve upon their submissions during the Virtual Accelerator Phase, which will include access to mentorship from IBM and Microsoft.

For a complete list of Challenge rules, access to APIs, and to submit a concept, visit

Material from a press release was used in this report.

About the Author:

Stephen Noonoo

Stephen Noonoo is a former editor of eSchool News. He has served as a consultant for CUE, California’s ISTE affiliate, and as managing editor of its quarterly publication, OnCUE. He has worked as a freelance writer, an education editor for SmartBrief newsletters, and as a staff editor for a well-known publication focusing on education technology.