Ballard Students Get Taste of High-Tech World of App Development

Students partnered with mentors from Humana to propose prototypes for mobile wellness program

April 8, 2021—Students in Ballard High School’s Interactive Design class got a taste of the high-stakes, high-tech world of app development, with a project to develop an app prototype for a national healthcare company.

For the second year in a row, students in the class, part of the school’s Interactive Media pathway, partnered with mentors from Humana to develop and propose prototypes for a mobile wellness program targeted toward Humana Medicare customers.

“It was a good collaboration,” said teacher Tiffany Zink. “It was tough virtually, but it was very rewarding to see it happen.”

Working in teams of two, students conducted interviews of potential app users, analyzed data, created on-paper prototypes of app features and enhancements that would reflect users’ preferences, and outlined how the system would be navigated. The teams then presented their proposals virtually to more than 60 representatives of Humana and JCPS, who scored the apps as if they were judging competing bids.

The winning team proposed a journaling feature, so seniors can record how they’re feeling that day and track their mental health. Noting a sense of isolation and loneliness among seniors they interviewed, they also created a games feature as a way for them to connect with others and added a Help Desk feature to answer Frequently Asked Questions or to put users in touch with a live person for additional assistance.

Students said the four-month process was well worth the challenges of undertaking the project in a virtual setting.

“This is definitely one of my favorite projects that I’ve done in high school,” said Samuel Hatfield, who, along with partner Janee Amig, earned the top prize in the competition.

“It’s been engaging and helped me figure out the design process,” Janee agreed. “And it gave me insight on designing for a certain demographic or audience.”

Ballard’s Interactive Media pathway, now in its second year, is the only pathway of its kind in the district and the seventh such program in Kentucky.

“I’m learning a lot of things I feel like I can really use in my future regardless of what career I’m in,” Hatfield said. “A lot of the stuff we’re learning can be applied to a lot of different mediums, not just graphic design.”