Tool Building Module (computer education)


How can we integrate the Ten Questions into mobile tool-building?

Mobile apps are ingrained in our everyday lives just about everywhere. “If there is no gap, there is no app,” said Joy Buolamwini, a founder of Code4Rights, activist, and master student in the MIT Civic Media Lab. How then can we leverage mobile apps to close social gaps and create social change? How can we apply the Ten Questions to app building for social change?  

The YPP Action Frame team undertook this inquiry in collaboration with Code4Rights, a civic tech enterprise in Boston, Massachusetts. Joy Buolamwini and Chaebong Nam, Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard’s Government Department, created an explorative scheme to integrate the Ten Questions with app building (see the image that follows). This scheme can be used in Code4Rights workshops.


The scheme comprises three stages: Pre-exercise, Building, Reflection. In Pre-exercise, young tool builders think about any social gap they care about and the reason it matters to them. Principle 1 (Why does it matter to me?) is primarily echoed in this activity. In Building, the participants specify their ideas as functions, purposes, logics, interface features, and so on, which is the design part, or “Plan App.” The Ten Questions can be used in a variety of ways to plan an app. In development, young tool builders execute the app plan; they assemble specific elements into an app product. This part is left pretty much for actual technical coding procedures.

In Reflection, the Ten Questions emerge for the points of specific thoughts. Reflection can first begin with general issues such as what counts as successes or mistakes in this stage; how can we learn from others; what can we learn from our successes and mistakes; and what are the appropriate actions to follow? From there, the Ten Questions can take young tool builders to more specific points of reflection. Detailing all issues that can occur during any app building process is nearly impossible because all vary from one case to another. The Ten Questions can assist young tool builders with streamlining complicated issues and focusing on a few key issues regarding the social-political impacts of their apps.

This Pre-exercise-Building-Reflection format presents one way in which the Ten Questions can be integrated with app building processes. Though sketchy at the moment, it makes an interesting intersection between technology and civics (see also AP Computer Science Principles)

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