One of my main aims as a teacher is to get students ready to do real work for real clients. In a sense, then, this unit represents a graduation of my students: after three years on the Year 7-9 ICT Course they are now ready for the real world.
Having run this unit twice before, I am convinced that it is one of the most powerful experiences I can possibly offer my students. For many of them it is the first time in their lives that adults are taking them really seriously (we have had some great clients in this regard). It is also one of the few times when they are asked to work in real companies, with students from a range of classes, requiring asynchronous collaboration, facilitated by student CEOs and CTOs. Brilliantly, almost all the students rise to the occasion, even those you might not expect it from, really showing what can be achieved through a high-challenge/high-support approach.
In its last iteration, student companies worked for Feeding Hong Kong, working to produce a virtual food drive, based on Drupal and a variety of plugins. The client was literally blown away by the work produced by students, with each company producing a functional online shop/food drive complete with example products. The best groups went the extra mile, offering detailed documentation, social media integration and nutritional guidelines. Although we have yet to launch the winning site (shown below), the client is looking into it.
Image credit: thumbnail image by www.localfitness.com.au on Wikimedia Commons shared under CC BY-SA.