New App Inventor Curriculum for SF Middle Schools

screen-shot-2016-09-14-at-10-14-52-amThe San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) is making great strides in rapidly adding computer science courses to the curriculum in public middle schools and high schools, and App Inventor is a vital part of it.  SFUSD’s Bryan Twarek and Andrew Rothman have designed an on-line middle school curriculum which combines video and other lessons from,,, and a number of other venues, and breaks lessons down into 50 minute classroom chunks. The well-organized site is being used this fall in SF middle schools. Check it out and contact Bryan ( to get access to the teacher side of it.

The middle school curriculum is part of SFUSD’s Computer Science for All Students in SF effort. The goal is to make real computer science– with coding and problem solving– part of the curriculum throughout the grade levels, and to help broaden participation in Tech, as this excerpt from their site attests:

By beginning in the earliest grades and with all children, we will normalize a discipline that has been long dominated by a selective group of the population.

SFUSD teachers are also teaching some of the first AP High School Computer Science Principles (CSP) courses on the West Coast, an effort led by SFUSD’s Jennie Lyons.

The Democratize Computing Lab at the University of San Francisco is  partnering with the school district in these efforts. Led by my colleague Alark Joshi and I, we provide materials and advice on curriculum development, offer summer training workshops for high school  teachers, and facilitate a program whereby USF students in the Democratize Computing Lab assist teachers at schools sites each semester.

Dave Wolber

Democratizing Computing with App Inventor: new article

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 10.36.53 AMI teamed up with App Inventor creators Hal Abelson (MIT) and Mark Friedman (Google) on the article, “Democratizing Computing with App Inventor”, which was recently published as first education column in the inaugural issue of Get Mobile ( from ACM SIGMOBILE Mobile Computing and Communications Review). Hal and Mark developed App Inventor from the ground up at Google. Hal continues to lead its development at MIT with Mark contributing significantly. The article introduces App Inventor and its history, and tells some of the great success stories.

The article is now available here and in the ACM Digital library.

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.

App Inventor Interview with MIT’s Hal Abelson and Oakland Youth Radio’s Asha Richardson

Watch this incredible interview with MIT’s Hal Abelson, who created App Inventor, and Asha Richardson, who co-founded the app lab at Oakland Youth Radio. If you are interested in motivating kids to be creators and thrive in today’s society, you have to watch this!

Obama says, “Don’t just play with your phone, program it!”

As part of‘s terrific “Hour of Code” week, Barrack Obama has called out youngsters to learn how to code. There are some great learning tools at, including Blockly, Scratch, and App Inventor. The initial “Angry Birds” code challenges involving programming character’s movement through a maze is a great beginning to programming. My twelve-year-old son Tomas had a blast and learned a lot of programming (if, loops, complex logic, etc.).

App Inventor Answers the President’s Call

Learning to program a maze is great, but App Inventor stands out as a tool that actually lets you program your phone and build all kinds of apps. You can build apps that auto-respond to text messages or an app that with a single click sends “thinking of you” to a list of phone numbers; You can build apps that remember where you parked your car, or how far you’ve run. And you can build meaningful, media-rich apps such as an “I Have a Dream” app that plays the speeches of MLK and Malcolm X. Most importantly, you can share your apps with your family and friends because App Inventor works on the open Android platform.

The “I Have a Dream” screencast tutorial is below. If you have an Android, click on the link and follow along, and you can have a cool app downloaded within minutes. And you’ll learn enough programming to build your own apps of various types– the sky is the limit!

For more, see and  MIT’s Hour of Code lesson.

App Inventor 2 is Here!

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App Inventor 2 is the new version of App Inventor now available at It is fabulous– a real game changer in terms of app building and computer science education for beginners. Congratulations to the MIT team for this great achievement!

The tool is much easier to setup and usually requires no downloads on your computer. If you want to build apps and learn some programming, and you have an Android phone, you can literally get going within minutes.

Besides the better setup, the new system provides a much more elegant programming experience. The blocks editor loads immediately — its now in the browser, not a Java app!. And there are a number of new features that simplify the app building process. Once you use it you will NEVER go back. However, AI “Classic” (, and the projects you’ve already built, will still be available for some months. For a description of the key changes in AI 2, see


Teachers– you should teach with AI2 this Spring. For my take on why, see In terms of supporting materials, the App Inventor book has been partially translated into AI2. You can find some chapters in web form at Most of the book will be translated in web form by early January. I am also working on a new book which will be available in plenty of time for next Fall.

There are also a number of AI2 video tutorials available at, and Shay Pokress and the MIT team have also created a number of nice tutorials available on the MIT site.


Dave updates has been updated with the following:

1. Conceptual roadmap — find what you want to learn! This page should be helpful to students and teachers designing courses.

2. App Inventor 2  tutorials and video screencasts.
The first batch is ready, many more to come…

  • “I Have a Dream” soundboard app tutorial for beginners. video text
  • Paintpot, the classic tutorial now in App Inventor 2  video text
  • Math Blaster, an app that generates and checks arithmetic, lots of iteration! text

3. Course-in-a-box updatesDesigning an App Inventor course? Make use of the materials here, including these additions:

In the next few weeks we’ll be rolling out more new content, especially for App Inventor 2, and we’ll have a new design!