student with chromebook

Student Created Apps for Education

Using the Open Source Platform Abre

Christine McCormick

Christine McCormick

Innovation Programs Manager
Mason City School District

For the past 16 years, Christine has led three district's technology and innovation teams, always aspiring to challenge the status quo. Prior to education, Christine worked in full-cycle software development. Her undergraduate degree in Psychology proves to be the perfect match for technology (MS in System Design and Development) and innovation working to find the sweet spot where human behavior meets technical opportunity.


Zach Vander Veen

CoFounder and VP of Instruction

Zach's worn many hats in education including History Teacher, Technology Coach, Administrator, and Director of Technology. He loves learning, teaching, traveling, and seeking adventures with his family.


What is Abre?

Abre is an education platform. It hosts education apps. Apps performs functions that make everyone happy.

Abre is open source. Anyone (like students or staff) can code their own apps using Abre. Creative ideas can really shine.

Think of Abre as an education operating system. It's where school happens.

Students Coding

What are App-a-thons?

Abre app-a-thons are hosted events where students define problems and develop their own Abre apps as solutions.


A Day in 5 Parts

The structure of an App-a-thon


Part 1: Who and Why?

Why the need?

Education, in particular, is pretty rough when it comes to software. More work instead of less.

Who are we?

Teachers and Administrators and - with this app-a-thon - students who have ideas.

Define the Problem

Part 2: Define the Problem

Students brainstorm problems they faced as students.

What do they want to fix? What issues give them headaches regularly?

From there, what solutions can they present to solve the headaches?

What crazy idea would they like to see in action?


Part 3: Wireframe

App-a-thons are open invitations. We don't know what skill level  students might have. As such, we want to create an experience where novices can contribute and design solutions.

Wireframing is an important part to the design process, so we introduce students to MockFlow and watch them design boards. 

Part 4: Git, Install, Run

Coding Some students were so cool, they actually launched a local host on Linux Computers.
  1. 1

    Launch Local Host

    Abre runs on a LAMP stack. Students launch their favorite dev environment (we recommended WAMP/MAMP).

  2. 2

    Pull Abre from Github

    Students issue a Git command and pull down Abre. Then they launch on local host.

  3. 3

    Pull "Starter App"

    Students pull a starter app to begin their development in Abre.


Part 5: Pitch

After a crazy, exciting day of creating, the app-a-thon students pitch their projects to the group.

Every pitch involves creative (and constructive) ideas from groups.

The ideas are amazing. Students really care about the user experience of their day.

Our First Student App

While we have a lot of "Starts" to student apps in Abre. Our first student app available to Abre will go live in early spring.

Built by Mark Senne

Curious to Learn More?

Christine and Zach would both love to hear from you. Please don't hesitate to drop them a line.

Additional Resources


Christine: [email protected]

[email protected]