Apple has profiled students in New Zealand that are using the iPad to prototype a Samoan language app, created using Apple’s educational resources.

Posted to Apple’s Newsroom on Monday, the feature discusses students at Bromley School in Christchurch, New Zealand. The school currently operates using the Apple ecosystem, with students equipped with iPads and classrooms using Apple TVs and Macs for coding.

The moving of a Samoan language teacher from the school to a local high school caused a problem for students. While they wished to continue learning the language, no replacement teachers were available.

“A lot of our students’ parents or grandparents are fluent in their home language, but some of our students just know the basics – I had the same experience growing up,” said teacher Mele Togiaso. “I’m part Maori and part Samoan, and I’m only now learning my family languages as an adult.”

Togiaso was asked by a group of students to help find ways to continue their lessons, called the “Digi Navigators.” Attempts were fruitless due to some being too text-heavy for younger users, other lacking audio, and an absence of games.

Undeterred, the group decided to create a prototype app called “Let’s Learn Samoan!” using Keynote. The App Design Journal from the Everyone Can Code curriculum was used as a guide to assist the development process.

“I share the Journal with anyone that asks how we created our app, because it provides such an easy, step-by-step process to follow.”

Students used iPads and the Apple Pencil to sketch illustrations, create animations, and record voice-overs in groups. Following the journal, bugs were also uncovered and tested, and feedback was received.

The students were invited in September 2020 to pitch the idea to an audience of 50 local tech experts and investors. They received more feedback, and an offer of mentorship from an angel investor.

“It was really cool to be able to teach our friends to speak Samoan using an app that we designed ourselves,” said year 6 student Leonie Bradbrook. “I would love to create more apps and help my friends.”

While the app is still being worked on, the Digi Navigators are said to have made a deeper connection to the language and their culture through the project. It also taught the students about teamwork.

“In Pacific culures, we achieve together,” adds Togiaso. “It’s not about any one individual’s success – nobody is left behind. This experienced showed our students that it is not enough for a smaller team to excel. For everyone to achieve, they all had to collaborate and make sure everybody was doing well.”



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