BY Ryan McDougall | November 23 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Best foot forward as St Luke’s launches Catholic heritage app

A Catholic high school in Barrhead has launched a mobile phone app which allows the user to learn about notable places of Faith and education in the town.

The app, Anniversary Urban Walk Barrhead, tells the story of Faith schooling in the town, and was released in celebration of the centenary of the Education (Scotland) Act 1918.

It is the brainchild of St Luke’s High School and Add Jam, a digital software company who specialise in creating accessible apps for smartphones.

Add Jam is run by Michael Hayes and Chris Sloey, who are both former pupils of St Luke’s.

To date, the app has been used by pupils from the high school, as well as children from the two local Catholic primary schools: St John’s and St Mark’s.

It links to the Google Maps application and guides users to every site in the town which is connected to Faith and education.

When the user reaches the site of one of these places, photographs and text regarding its history will appear on screen, giving a snippet of the bigger story of Catholic education in Barrhead.

While Add Jam took the reins in the tech side of the project, pupils were given the chance to get stuck in with the creative side, providing pictures and getting involved in the research.

Now that the app is finished, pupils from the school have gone on outings with their teachers to some of the historical sites with the aid of the app.


Pupil involvement

Ross Chalmers, principal teacher of RE for St Luke’s, said: “As well as the photography, the pupils were also involved in creating the locator pins that show up to mark the locations of places on the map.

“We identified a number of places in Barrhead that had been part of the Faith, for example, the first Catholic school.

“We used the app to see where it was. Most people, including those who were involved in the research, didn’t know where it was.”

Another key figure in creating the app was local historian Tom Higgins, Mr Chalmers explained, who is the author of the book Saint John’s School Barrhead 1842-1966.

Mr Higgins helped the school with researching and uncovering important places connected with Catholic education that may have been forgotten over time.

Mr Chalmers believes that the finished product could help bring history to life in an accessible, enjoyable way.

“The story of Faith in the town and education was lost to a lot of people, and I think the app has made a lot of it more known,” he said.

“Not many young people would read an old library book or something like that, but this app gives them the opportunity to learn about these places in an enjoyable way.

“A lot of people, both young and old, have remarked ‘I never knew about that’ when using the app, so I’d say it’s been worthwhile.”

Mr Higgins added that he thinks the project also gave the pupils a good opportunity to boost their skills in technology and IT, an area that some of them might consider pursuing a career in.

He added: “I think other schools could use the idea and tap into their own stories.

“I see it as a very exciting opportunity. If there are roots that have been forgotten about, I think the app is a really good way to tap into them.”

Michael Hayes, of Add Jam, said that it was a great opportunity for himself and his colleague to work on something for their former school.

He added: “Using mobile apps has a lot of potential for the curriculum.

“In the process of making the St Luke’s app, pupils in St Luke’s and the cluster schools had the opportunity to write content, take photographs, design assets/graphics and, not least, get outside and explore their home town and learn some of its history.”


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