$200,000 Keck Grant for AppInventor.org

keckDavid Wolber and the University of San Francisco received a $200,000 grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation to launch the Democratize Computing Lab at USF.  The Lab’s mission is to  break down the programmer divide and radically broaden and diversify the pool of software creators.

The Lab’s strategy is based on App Inventor, a visual language from MIT that allows beginners to learn by programming their phone or tablet. The language has a low barrier to entry. Instead of being bogged down for months in the syntax of a traditional language, beginners can build useful applications within days and early on experience the joy of computing and real-world problem-solving.

AppInventor.org On-Line Course

AppInventor.org: Learn mobile programming on-line

Wolber has been involved with App Inventor since its inception at Google in 2009, and co-authored a book with App Inventor creator Hal Abelson and two of the Google engineers on the App Inventor team (including Mills College professor Ellen Spertus). His site appinventor.org, which provides video lessons and course materials for students and teachers, recently received its millionth hit.

The Lab is involved with a number of App Inventor education projects for providing beginners with an entry-way into the world of programming. Wolber and his students are completing and refining the “course-in-a-box” materials for students and teachers on the appinventor.org site. They’re also working with MIT and UMass-Lowell on the App Inventor Community Gallery, a site where students, teachers, and developers share apps and learn from each other.

An open-source app studio for peer-to-peer learning

App Inventor Gallery: app studio for peer-to-peer learning

Wolber will continue to direct the Lab in the fall while on Sabbatical at MIT, where he’ll be serving as a visiting faculty member and working with Hal Abelson and the App Inventor team.

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

Enter the MIT App Inventor App Contest

MIT App Inventor App Contest 2012

What:   The First MIT App Inventor App Contest. Prizes, Fame, Fun!
Who:    Everyone is eligible, see categories below
Why:    To promote App Inventor, the App Inventor Gallery, and mobile programming for all!
When:  Submission Deadline is Midnight, December 12, 2012, (Pacific Time)
Where: The App Inventor Community Gallery (http://gallery.appinventor.mit.edu)

Prize Categories
Most Outstanding App: grades K-8, 9-12, College/University, Open

Prizes (each category)
1st Place: Google Nexus 7 Tablet
2nd Place: App Inventor Book ( http://bit.ly/AppInventorBook )

Contest Criteria
Creativity
How novel is the app? What app(s) is it similar to, and what is the value-add of the app?

Potential Impact
What is the potential impact of the app? Who will it help, and how will it help them?

Complexity
How complex is the app in terms of blocks, logic, and programming concepts.

User Experience and Presentation
Does the app have a well-designed, professional-looking user-interface? Is it easy to use for the intended audience, even the first time they use the app?

Completeness
Is the app complete or close to it? Has it been user-tested or deployed with real users?

To Enter the Contest:
1) Join the MIT App Inventor Community Gallery
(The Gallery is in Beta, go to http://gallery.appinventor.mit.edu to request full access).
2) Develop an app using App Inventor (http://beta.appinventor.mit.edu),
3) Upload your app to the App Inventor Community Gallery.
4) Fill out the contest submission form at: http://bit.ly/AIContestEntryForm
5) You may edit your app and form entry until the contest deadline of 12/12/12. Be sure and save the “edit form” link when your initial submission is confirmed.

More info: email contest organizer, USF Professor David Wolber, wolberd@usfca.edu

National Science Foundation Grant for Teaching App Inventor

The National Science Foundation has awarded a $565,836 grant in support of mobile programming education with App Inventor. Its
a TUES Grant, which stands for Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

The project involves Wellesley College, MIT, Trinity, U. Mass, Lowell, and the University of San Francisco (my school). We’ll be building on-line, Khan-academy-like tools for App Inventor, with the goal of teaching computational thinking to beginners, especially non-CS-students. Many thanks to Franklyn Turbak of Wellesley, who led the proposal process, and Hal Abelson of MIT who leads the App Inventor project. Here are all the Project leads:

Hal Abelson, MIT

Lyn Turbak, Wellesley

Ralph Morelli, Trinity

Fred Martin, UMass-Lowell

David Wolber, USF

 

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.

 

BusinessWeek.com on University of San Francisco and App Inventor

Andrea and Kelly building an app

USF students Andrea Conway and Kelly Lazzara are featured in this BusinessWeek.com video report on App Inventor and our course at USF.

Mr. President: App inventing and what our schools can be

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AMSA tacher Padmaja Bandaru with her students at the MIT App Inventor summit

They take a computer science course each and every semester. They build mobile apps. They learn using a visual language, App Inventor, that allows them to create their first app within an hour and sophisticated ones within days. They become so excited about programming phones that they join the Technovation after-school program and spend their afternoons learning more programming and entrepreneurship skills. One app– an educational one about Mitosis and Meiosis, wins the regional competition and a trip to California. Who are these kids? They’re the students from the Advanced Science and Math Academy (ASMA), a public charter school in Marlborough Massachusetts, and, President Obama, they are exactly what America needs!

Two AMSA students discussing their app with MIT professor Hal Abelson

I met these incredible students and learned about their fabulous school at the MIT App Inventor Summit. The students were invited to MIT along with their teachers, Kelly Powers and Padmaja Bandaru, two women who should be given millions of stimulus dollars for their exemplary work.

The students demonstrated their projects, talked tech with  App Inventor project lead Hal Abelson and the other conference attendees, and with great aplomb illustrated how App Inventor can help change the face of education.

AMSA students with Padmaja Bandaru,  Hal Abelson, MIT super student Logan Mercer and yours truly, David Wolber from USF

You hear everywhere how we’re not educating our kids for life in the 21st century. What should the President do? Call Kelly Powers and Padmaja Bandaru at the AMSA school!

Testing SMS Texting apps with app inventor

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two emulators used to test an app inventor app

I stumbled upon a solution to a long-standing issue I’ve had with App Inventor which is how to test, without a phone, apps that process SMS texts in some way. The issue is important because not all schools and developers have phones, but texting apps are fun and important so you’d like to be able to develop and test them even if you don’t have an Android.

So I was trying to build a screencast for the No Texting While Driving tutorial, and I  wanted to be able to test/show the app on-screen. So I googled (go figure) and found out that the emulator id# serves as a phone number (go figure again, and why didn’t I try this before). So the solution is to open multiple emulators (click new emulator in app inventor twice). Connect one of them to app inventor and run the app on it, then use the normal texting app on the other to text the emulator running the app (with phone number something like 5554)

So now you can build/test SMS texting apps without owning an Android phone. I’m happy!

 

USF students to pitch MS app in Cape Town, South Africa

Two humanities students took an App Inventor course and built a prototype; two graduates in computer science pushed the project along by building a more complete version using Java. Together, this uncommon comingling of students is competing in an international mobile health (m-health) contest. And they just make the lives of thousands suffering from Multiple Sclerosis  (MS) just a little bit easier!

The school is University of San Francisco. The humanities students are Dylan Hindenlang and Samantha Lam, who walked into a core curriculum computer science course and will end their year traveling to Cape Town to pitch their project. The graduate students are Chen Chen and Yaoli Zheng, who for their final project in a Mobile Programming course worked with the humanities students and a person with MS to build a sophisticated piece of software. The contest is the GSMA Mobile Health Challenge to be held at the Mobile Health Summit 2012.

Yaoli Zheng, Chen Chen, Profesor David Wolber, Dylan Hindenlang, and Samantha Lam

Help MIT Study and Extend App Inventor

Hi folks. If you are an app inventor user, please fill out the survey on it here: survey
This will help the MIT team move forward in improving app inventor. Here’s the announcement:
In order to ensure the future success of App Inventor and explore innovative uses of mobile technology in education, Google has funded the establishment of a Center for Mobile Learning at the MIT Media Lab.  The new center will be actively engaged in studying and extending App Inventor for Android.

In an effort to assist MIT in their effort to study and extend App Inventor, we invite you to complete this brief survey on your use of App Inventor.  All data collected in this survey will be shared with the MIT Center for Mobile Learning.

Please visit http://appinventoredu.mit.edu/ for updates on what is being done with App Inventor at MIT.

The App Inventor Team


P.S. This survey is being distributed through multiple means. Please be sure to only fill it out once.