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Digital Skills

Full Stack Development at bitjam

12 Jun, 2017

This blog will make clear the benefits of having full stack development skills when creating your software product. Software products depends on a “stack” of technologies to create a completed, useable product that consists of both client side and server layers. FSD is the method we use to complete a web build or mobile application effectively from beginning to end.

A Full-Stack Web Developer is someone who can create a software product from the back end (database) right through to the front end (interface). At bitjam, we develop software and applications using full stack development meaning we are competent handling all aspects of a software project.

As a software development company we focus on the full cycle, from design, prototype, full system development and deployment.  Having full stack developers means we are able to work quickly and efficiently.

Three Key Roles

Apart from the project manager, there are three crucial roles required to complete a software product. The web developer, the front end developer and the back end developer.

  • The web developer creates custom graphics, and designs the structure and format of a site
  • The front end developer controls everything graphical that runs on a client’s site, and controls how the design is implemented on the site using programming tools and coding languages such as HTML and Javascript
  • The back end developer is the work going on the “behind-the-scenes”, database, such as the internal machinery running on the server which relays data to the front end display

Skills at bitjam

So what are the skills required to become a full stack developer?

  • Agility
  • Reactivity
  • Lucidity
  • Reliability

Our developers at bitjam are able to work quickly, be alert and reactive to changes required or issues that arise in either the front end of back end systems, and can reliably work to project deadlines because they have all of the necessary FSD skills meaning they don’t have to rely on other contributors to complete.

At bitjam we also adopt test driven development to continuously monitor our progress and allow for build repairs as we work. This is the process of writing functional code that is built in tests that runs to check that the code is working. As more code is written, we run these tests to ensure that we haven’t broken anything that was previously built. This allows us to remain, agile, reactive, lucid and reliable throughout the projects, and maintaining the workflow.

Software release cycle

We work to a software release life cycle in order to meticulously plan the project and keep to deadlines. The software release life cycle is the stages of development and maturity of a piece of software which requires both alpha and beta testing phases.

Alpha phase: this is the phase that launches software testing. The first phase of the release cycle in which methods and features are tried and tested. The alpha phase may look very different to the finished product but it allows for co-production techniques to be applied to the creative process, ensuring an efficient workflow and establishing the end result to be achieved to the deadline.

Beta phase: this is the second phase of the release life cycle. It’s usually the first time the software is available outside of bitjam, and may still contain some issues but it serves as a demonstration to clients to establish that the project is on the right track.

Full stack development allows the software release life cycle to remain on track, efficient and reliable, consistently delivering projects to deadline. If you would like to discuss a software product with us, and learn more about how our FSD approach can support your project, contact Carl Plant here.

Carl did a workshop at Staffs Uni with student nurses - carl to send photos. Introducing destiny and mobile moocs to new students. Asked students what they thought of mobile learning - live video, instant chat, should there be more video less text inside the mobile app, the optimum level of push notifications - trying to create the right amount so it’s not annoying. This is for the next phase of destiny which will be to develop the app.
Digital Skills

Destiny 2.0 In Development

17 May, 2017

As work begins on developing the next phase of the Destiny project, Carl returned to the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Staffordshire University to introduce students to the Destiny MOOCs app and mobile e-learning.

The students were asked to share their feedback and what they thought of mobile learning. This included features such as live video, instant chat, the optimum level of push notifications, and even aesthetic detail such as the ratio of video to text within the app. This feedback is valuable to the next phase of the Destiny project which will be to develop the app into something with a positive UX, with bitjam adopting agile methodology and co-production techniques to ensure frequent testing and improvement.

Working closely with the partners at Staffordshire University and students at the School of Nursing and Midwifery is an important part of the development process, encouraging active participation and keeping the project timeline on track. We recently visited the school to get feedback on the project so far, allowing the students a first glimpse at Destiny as a mobile e-learning app. Find out more here.

Laptop
Digital Skills

Digital Literacy

9 Mar, 2017

We are constantly hearing that digital services are “the future”, but in actual fact we are already fully immersed in a digital life. Technology lives in our pockets, directs us round the country, gives us access to knowledge within micro seconds. We are an incredibly digitally knowledgeable species already.

Or are we? It’s easy to perceive that “everybody” has access to a computer, the internet and smart devices. Unfortunately we’re often distracted by our own access to such tools that we fail to notice that external factors such as money, education and time can have a profoundly negative effect on people’s digital literacy.

Are We All As Digitally Literate As We Appear?

Digital literacy refers to knowledge and skills with digital devices such as computers, smartphones and tablets.

16% of UK adults are classed as “functionally illiterate”, meaning they would be unable to pass a GCSE. 50% of people can’t do basic maths. These are the very basic skills most of you will have learned at an early age, and have been taught in schools for centuries. Yet 16% is an alarming proportion of the population. Imagine then that a modern skill set such as digital capabilities becoming a part of everyday life, and people having to learn them independently. Take into consideration how fast-paced and constantly-changing digital experiences are too.

Research published by the BBC has found that 21% of Britain’s population lack the basic digital skills and capabilities required to realise the benefits of the internet.

Even most people who have access to smart devices  are lacking in the skills required to use them to their full potential.

Good software design should address the digital know-how of it’s potential users or else there is a high risk of limited usage of the technologies. Some of the main areas to take notice are authentication (how the user signs up and/or logging in), general user interface design, personalisation options and the clarity in the support documentation.

Digital Inclusion Strategy

The government have a digital inclusion strategy in place to ensure everyone who can be is online by 2020. They have identified 4 main kinds of challenge faced to achieving results:

  • access – the ability to actually go online and connect to the internet
  • skills – to be able to use the internet
  • motivation – knowing the reasons why using the internet is a good thing
  • trust – a fear of crime, or not knowing where to start to go online

According to the BBC Media Literacy study, 21% of people can’t use the web. 14% of people don’t have internet access at all, so 7% do have internet access but don’t use it in ways that benefit them day to day.

Addressing Digital Literacy

So how can this be combatted? There have been a number of projects and programmes that aim to address digital literacy, here are a few:

  • Providing free access at public libraries
  • Creating DotEveryone – the UK’s digital skills alliance designed to inspire people and organisations who want to help others build their digital capability
  • The Broadband Delivery UK Programme aims to bring high speed broadband access to 95% of homes by December 2017
  • Motivating users to go online by teaching them the benefits of job search software such as Universal Jobmatch, rather than simply pushing them into it
  • Get Safe Online is a scheme which helps people keep themselves safe against the threat of fraud, identity theft, viruses and many other online security issues
  • WEA (Workers Educational Association) are a unique adult education provider working with hundreds of organisations at local, regional and national levels. Courses include IT for Beginners, covering the use of computers, mobile devices and social media.

It’s paramount that digital healthcare providers work with adult community learning regarding digital literacy. However the challenge of usability needs to be tackled at the design stage using co-production as the process. The key to success is in the quality of the relationship between the partners in each project, and at bitjam we work in a highly collaborative manner with clients and stakeholders to research and develop innovative solutions that meet their needs.