Touch Develop and the Digital Technologies Curriculum

Guest post by Trent Ray, Microsoft Teacher Ambassador and Expert Educator

Learning to code with Touch Develop is a great way to introduce students to skills in the Digital Technologies Curriculum, including computational thinking and computer programming. Accessing the Touch Develop Web App makes it easy for students to create touch apps and games in minutes and gives them the opportunity to learn these valuable industry skills. It also allows teachers who are designing the learning to share App links, capture thinking and monitor student progress. OneNote has yet again come to the rescue making it easy for my learner’s to develop a digital portfolio and for myself to collect evidence of student thinking and work  through a scaffold in our collaborative OneNote Class Notebook.

Build Your First App

Objective: When recently developing a unit for my Year 9 – Build Your Own Apps class I wanted the task to be as authentic as possible so Skype became our portal to accessing an authentic audience outside of our school. Whilst ensuring that the Learning Intentions explicitly linked to the ICT skills and knowledge in the curriculum, I also wanted to extend my student’s to think critically, innovate, create and challenge their abilities in working as 21st Century Learners.

The Task: Through the Design and Technology processes develop a touch app to engage and entertain young users of technology. Have real users or game players test student’s work and for them to use feedback the modify or improve their product.

The Tools: In order to get my idea off the ground I needed a range of tools for my students to access throughout their design journey. Each tool served a purpose to help develop a skill, build knowledge or provide a digital space for recording their designs and reflections.

  • Microsoft OneNote: Each student kept a digital portfolio of their learning which included scaffolded pages for each individual student to work through. They were required to systematically work through the phases of the Design & Technology Process (AusVELS) as well as self-regulate with a focus on managing their time, setting short and long-term goals and reflecting on their achievements. Having access to each of my students’ work through OneNote I was also able to monitor progress and collaborate with students to provide timely feedback.


  • Touch Develop: Was the platform used for purpose of adhering to the ICT for Creating in the AusVELS curriculum – (now found in the Digital Technologies Curriculum). With a combination of old fashioned explore and play, working through Touch Develop tutorials/walk throughs, as well as teacher lead instruction, students successfully created their first App or Game. All students needed were a Microsoft Account (Windows Live ID) to access the online Touch Develop profile which can be used on any connected device with a web browser. Microsoft also have fantastic online modules that students can self-pace through to learn the fundamentals.


  • Skype: Was used as a platform to connect to the authentic audience to survey interest and to get to know their target audience. In this case a group of younger Grade 5 primary school students from another school. We used this tool to leverage discussions about appropriate behaviour in a web conference and practised different communication skills required for online interaction. Students were extremely excited when @skypeclassroom retweeted our images on twitter.


  • Sway: As we were two separate schools, we needed an outward facing platform where students could share their work. My Year 9 students used Sway as a place to create and publish a blog with information, images and instructions and a link to their web based prototypes, allowing the Grade 5 students to act as ‘game testers’. Through this tool the collaborating teacher was also able to shape a learning activity for their students where the writing of constructive feedback become part of his classes literacy rotation.



What did the students have to say?

 “I liked that real kids got to play my game” Year 9 Student

“It was good to be able to work at my own pace and choose from a couple of options for how I learnt how to code” Year 9 Student

“It was fun to play games at school and know the person who made it” Grade 5 Student

 Curriculum Resources for Touch Develop:

Educator Community: access Trent’s lesson plan, including OneNote Scaffold and Assessment Rubric click here.

Curriculum Resource: An introduction to computer science course built with Touch Develop! Includes day-by-day plans for implementing the curriculum as a 6, 9, 12, or 18-week instructor-led course.

Learn Touch Develop: Microsoft Virtual Academy’s Hour of Code


Guest post by Trent Ray, Microsoft Teacher Ambassador and Expert Educator