ai2coverApp Inventor 2: Create your own Android Apps is now available in early-release form from O’Reilly. The early-release gives you discounted access to the book while the authors are making final edits. You receive the preview version now, then all significant updates as well as the final version.

Early-Release Book Now Available!

I wrote the book along with three of the original creators of App Inventor: MIT Professor Hal Abelson, Mills Professor and Google Engineer Ellen Spertus and Google’s Liz Looney. The book is designed for absolute beginners and is also useful for programmers looking to add App Inventor to their programming arsenal.

The book is used in many K-12 and University courses. Check out the course-in-a-box to see how the chapters fit in to a course outline.

Super-Teacher Kelly Powers Teaching High schoolers!

Want to see a successful STEM program in action? Check out this video of Kelly Powers, the Mass. STEM teacher of the year, teaching students to be creative, solve problems, and build their thinking skills, all through building apps with App Inventor. Congratulations Kelly!

 

Jeff Gray is Transforming Education in Alabama

University of Alabama professor Jeff Gray is working to develop new computer science AP curriculum for Alabama high school students based on App Inventor and mobile programming. Check out this video from ABC news:Screen shot 2012-12-01 at 11.45.05 AM

Learn App Inventor with Video Tutorials

App Inventor Book available at Amazon

Check out appinventor.org/projects. I’ve added video screencast lessons and other teaching materials to complement the original App Inventor tutorials.  These are the tutorials  originally written for the App Inventor site and then refined for the book App Inventor: Create your own Android Apps (which I co-authored with App Inventor creators Hal Abelson, Ellen Spertus, and Liz Looney). I’ve also added some new video tutorials not found in the book, one for an arcade shooting game (see above) and one for a note-taking app.

The video is best watched full screen HD, and each tutorial is split into 5 minute portions.

 

App Inventor students, professors, and Googlers discuss their experience

Angelo Taylor is a University of San Francisco student who took my App Inventor course last year. He has created this video about our App Inventor course. Great work Angelo!

Android Games Built by Middle School Students at BAYCAT SF


App Inventor was used in the summer program BAYCAT–The Bay View- Hunters Point Center for Arts and Technology in San Francisco.  In just a few weeks, these students learned the basics of app building and created a game. One is a fashion app where you can drag clothes into a virtual closet. Another lets you grab for dollars before the police officer snatches you. Another lets you skateboard while boulders fall from the sky, while two others are fun soccer games. The students learned some complex programming, with if-else blocks, timer events, and the like, and they also had to work with Photoshop and other tools to build their user interfaces. Impressive work!

Congrats to the students and to their wonderful volunteer instructor, USF grad student Roderick Lisam.

Google: The Time is Ripe to Flood Schools with Android Devices

I just gave an App Inventor workshop at the CS4HS seminar at the University of Illinois in Chicago– 30 high school teachers from the Chicago area were hosted by UIC professor Dale Reed and sponsored by Google.

One thing I learned is that the kids of Chicago are in good hands, at least the ones lucky enough to learn from these  teachers.

The other thing I learned is that App Inventor is striking a chord with high school teachers. Many have been teaching Java, at least for Advance Placement (AP) courses and they know how few students thrive with that as a beginning language. They see how visual blocks languages like App Inventor and Scratch can work for a much larger subset of the population. They also see the potential for App Inventor to leverage the students’ intense fascination with the tiny computing devices they carry around  in their pockets.

The BIG QUESTION, however, the first one I hear from every high school and university teacher, is

WHERE CAN I GET SOME PHONES?

How can I teach App Inventor if only a few of my students have Android devices?

One answer is that you can develop apps without a phone, using the Android emulator that comes with the free App Inventor software.  If you can scrape together a few phones for your class, or leverage those that your students bring, the emulator-based solution is workable and one I encourage teachers to take.

But there is a much better solution, one with much broader implications, but one which would require some great vision by the folks at Google and perhaps a T-Mobile.  The solution involves giving every student who signs up for  a high school Computing 1 course a device –phone or tablet.  Let them live with it and program it as part of their life. The number of citizens with the ability to create technology would explode explode! The students will learn what software is, they’ll learn problem-solving and logic, and they’ll learn entrepreneurship– how to formulate ideas and create things of use to society.

We’re not talking incremental change, but historical– and at a time when everyone from the Labor Bureau to the White House has identified a need for more programming-savvy citizens.

Why Google? Couldn’t it be some other deep-pocketed organization?

Yes, but right at this moment in history Google has a motive that can make it work. This scheme can win them the multi-billion dollar battle between Android and the iPhone. App Inventor only works for Android and there’s not yet an iPhone equivalent that is even close. This will change, soon, but App Inventor has the momentum, and so does Android in terms of casual “end-user” programming of mobile devices. Partner with a service-provider like T-Mobile, give the high school students a free device and a semester or two of free service, and suddenly you’ve got thousands of young new clients buying Android devices and service for the next 80 years.

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