Our New Pathways App

Title Image for Our New Pathways App

In December 2016, my club, Central Austin Toastmasters, achieved something that very few clubs in the world get to do. We built our own website, centralaustin.org, so that our members have the right tools to succeed in Toastmasters.

Central Austin Toastmasters is one of the few clubs in the world that has its own website.
Central Austin Toastmasters built its own website so that its members have the right tools to succeed.

Thanks to our website, we are stronger than ever in our 27-year club history.

Here are the awesome members of Central Austin Toastmasters!
Meet Central Austin Toastmasters!

We have 40 awesome members, each dedicated to improve their public speaking and leadership skills.

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We have won 12 awards in the past two years.

As of November 2018, Central Austin Toastmasters stands at #2 out of 186 clubs in Austin and San Antonio.
As of November 2018, Central Austin Toastmasters stands at #2 out of 186 clubs in Austin and San Antonio.

And we currently stand at #2 out of 186 clubs in Austin and San Antonio. This is truly one of the best places you can be for Toastmasters.

We are not going to stop here, though, because there is always room for us to grow. Today, I present to you a club project that will help us evolve in 2019 and 2020: a new Pathways app that I call, Toastmasters Education Tracker (*name subject to change). Let me explain why we need this app, how we are going to make it, and how you can help.

1. Why we need this app

To understand why, we have to go back to February of this year. Toastmasters International launched a new program called Pathways. Pathways was designed to provide your education online, but the app that they had built is far from user-friendly.

Here is how you find your next speech project.

Step 1. Visit toastmasters.org and find the right link to visit Base Camp.
Step 1. Visit toastmasters.org and find the right link to visit Base Camp.
Step 2. You log in.
Step 2. You log in.
Step 3. Apparently, you need to log in again.
Step 3. You’re still not at Base Camp, and apparently need to log in again.
Step 4. You need to click My Education Transcript, which is hidden beneath the huge, distracting image.
Step 4. You struggle to find where to go because this huge, distracting image is in your way.
Step 5. Next, you try to recall what path you’re on, because the name’s not shown on top of the list.
Step 5. You need to recall what path you’re on, because the name’s not on top of the list.
Step 6. Finally, you reach the page that you so desperately wanted, but after these 6 grueling steps, you’re tired and don’t want to start your next project.
Step 6. After 6 grueling steps, you’re tired and don’t want to start your next project.

The app gets worse for officers and mentors. From the Base Camp, they have no way to check what members have or haven’t done in our club.

A simple chart that shows who is in which path, under what level, takes more than 1 minute to create.
This simple chart that shows who is in which path, under what level, takes more than 1 minute to create.

To be fair, the app does provide a simple chart to show who is in which path, under what level. The catch? This simple chart takes more than a minute to create.

Our new Pathways app will fix these problems.

Goal 1. You, as a member, will clearly see your mentor and your next speech project.
Goal 1. You, as a member, clearly see your mentor and your next speech project.

You, as a member, will clearly see your mentor and your next speech project. In addition, you will get to see what you did in our club. Oh, the last time I evaluated someone was a month ago. I should work on my evaluation skills again.

Goal 2. If you are a mentor, you will clearly see who your mentees are, what they need to work on next, and who are at risk of dropping out.
Goal 2. You, as a mentor, clearly see who your mentees are, what they need to work on next, and who are at risk of dropping out.

If you are a mentor, you will clearly see who your mentees are, what they need to work on next, and who are at risk of dropping out.

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Finally, if you are an officer, you will have visibility of the entire club and get to update our member profiles easily.

2. How we are going to make it

Next, let me explain how we will build this app. This project is possible thanks to 12 awesome people who agreed to volunteer their time.

This project is possible thanks to 12 awesome people.
This project is possible thanks to 12 awesome people.

Jay, Taylor, and Xiaochuan are on my guidance committee, and the rest will be working with me as developers. Many of these folks want to become professional coders. Our app will help them learn a new language, build experience, and develop leadership skills so that they can successfully enter the programming industry.

Here are the tools that we will use.

We will use modern technologies to ensure that our app is user-friendly, mobile-responsive, and always up-to-date.
We will use modern technologies to ensure that our app is user-friendly, mobile-responsive, and always up-to-date.

I want to mention Ember, in particular. It is a JavaScript framework that is excellent for small teams. We can easily write tests and create mock data to ensure that our app meets high standards. If you are not familiar with these tools, don’t worry. What you need to know is this: We will use modern technologies to ensure that our app is user-friendly, mobile-responsive, and always up-to-date.

To summarize, our new Pathways app, just like our website, will provide our members—you—the right tools to succeed in Toastmasters. It will also help our officers and mentors understand their members better. Lastly, it will help our developers meet their professional goals.

3. How you can help

Here’s how you can help. If you are a developer, I’d like you to spend an hour each week on our app. This can range from learning a new language, to writing code, to creating ideas for improvement.

If you are a member, you can help us by actively participating in our club. When you sign up for a speech or a meeting role, make sure to fulfill that role to the best of your ability. If you have a mentor or a mentee, help them meet their goals so that our mentoring program is a success.

Finally, on May 2019, when our new Pathways app will be launched, let’s make sure that we celebrate and thank our volunteers for paving the future of Central Austin Toastmasters.

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Look forward to the launch date!
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