Raising the next generation of coders, developers and data scientists means we need to develop innovative, engaging ways to teach children how to use technology.
Edinburgh-based EdTech startup, Robotical, created Marty the robot as a unique way to teach children to code. With a little help from Marty, adults can break down barriers to learning about technology, in a fun and accessible way.
After meeting at various networking events in 2019, the team at GearedApp had the unique opportunity to work with Robotical on their second robotic adventure. Robotical was creating another learning robot, Marty 2, and needed an experienced team to ensure that the web and mobile app development complement their robot.
Providing Easy Access to Resources With a Bespoke Online Platform
We kickstarted the project by working on a new online platform specifically designed to provide teachers and students with access to Robotical’s learning materials. Without the online platform, Robotical had to send out modules, resources and PDFs by hand to teachers, which was a time-consuming process. An online tool would make this process easier and allow Robotical to deliver its tech solution at scale.
We teamed up with Robotical to create an online platform, where teachers could access resources. Building this platform would allow Robotical to save time and energy, and provide support for teachers to deliver more effective robotics classes.
Our platform served as a sub-web application that linked to Robotical’s existing WordPress website. This set-up allowed admins to login and update the system as new information became available, which in-turn gave teachers access to the most up-to-date information and resources.
As part of the web build, it was essential for Robotical to keep their existing landing pages and ensure their website worked seamlessly with the new online system. Once the resource platform was released and gained some traction, we then started working on the mobile app.
Helping Students Navigate Marty 2 With Our New App
The mobile app development was the second part of the project, where we created the app to correlate with the launch of Robotical’s new robot, Marty 2, featuring new technologies, including Bluetooth.
With the first robot version of Marty, teachers and kids could only access the robot via a wifi connection. This created limitations as some schools, due to security issues, don’t allow wireless networks in the classrooms. To solve this problem, Robotical had to send along a special router that students and teachers could use to connect to the robot, which was inconvenient and expensive.
Marty 2 was designed with new Bluetooth features that would make it easier for students and teachers to connect to the robot without a wifi connection. As part of this new set-up, Robotical required a mobile app that would allow students to navigate the robot and access coding features without a computer.
Using React Native, we took the existing Marty app and rebuilt it to align with the new and more advanced technologies. We worked using the agile methodology, which meant that various prototypes were released throughout the process and we needed to work closely with the in-house team at Robotical to ensure the app was ready to launch alongside Marty 2.
Agile Teamwork From Start to Launch
The project’s success relied on having a complete understanding of the project requirements and ensuring the online platform and app could be adapted for different ages, countries, and levels.
For the mobile app, one of the biggest challenges was that the new Bluetooth capabilities were still in development while we were building the app. To address this challenge, Robotical gave our developers access to a chip that could be used to test the Bluetooth capabilities on the app.
Close collaboration between GearedApp and Robotical was essential to make sure everyone was on the same page and the new technologies could work hand-in-hand. In the later stages of the project, the Robotical team shared new hardware developments via a Slack channel, allowing our team to pick them up quickly. Agile teamwork ensured new app and hardware developments remained compatible and able to launch at the same time.
Having recently adopted agile working, we are delighted with the results of this project and that it’s being executed with consistent close collaboration from the start.
A Successful Agile Partnership with Robotical
The Marty 2 project is a strong ongoing partnership between the team at GearedApp and Robotical. Robotical has been able to start testing the new Marty 2 learning platform and mobile app, which has received very positive responses from users across the board. The Marty 2 Robot, complete with the new Bluetooth feature, will launch in about a month to be sold across the world.
There’s been constant momentum around the project since the start, and Robotical has successfully created a product and system that promotes technology-friendly education.
Thanks to the success of the Marty 2 project, we’ve achieved a close relationship with Robotical. We’re proud of our role in this project and we look forward to witnessing the success of Marty 2 when it’s released to the public.
Robotical also raved our partnership as Alexander Enoch, Founder of Robotical, said:
“We engaged GearedApp to work on the app for Marty 2 and a complimentary website for primary and secondary teachers. GearedApp provided proactive support and delivered improvements at lightning speed. Their agile methodology made us feel included at all times and we appreciated being able to have direct communication with their developers. This was our first time outsourcing developers and we were very happy with their work. It has been a successful partnership and we hope to do more work with GearedApp in the future.”
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