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!

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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.

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!

O’Reilly Webcast on App Inventor and Its Future

My O’Reilly Webcast on App Inventor and its future is now archived (it was given Sep. 2, 2011). I talk about some success stories with App Inventor, what’s going to happen as it transitions to MIT, and how the language might be developed further. I even tell a really bad App Inventor joke. Check it out.

O'Reilly Announcement

Video: University students interviewed about App Inventor

This video was created by University of San Francisco student Angelo Taylor. A longer version is coming soon. Do you have video of students working with or talking about App Inventor?