102 Future Forwards: Exploring Frontiers in Education
From my perspective as a person with college computer science degree and
a background in game development and design, I am amazed by the power
that this program puts in the hands of novice programmers. I was expecting
app development with students to be something challenging. However,
with very little guidance from me and internet resources we are all learning
these new skills quickly, myself included. I was very sceptical if we would
be able to create anything other than a simple click-the-button-change-the-screen style app, but the students wouldn’t have any of that boring stuff.
They wanted to go big. And they did! A group of students wanted to learn
how to tilt the phone to mimic the function of the game Asphalt and steer
an orb. So they looked up how to do that and in short order, they did it.
Another student wanted to make an app that used the phone’s camera like
Instagram, so he looked up how to do that, and then did it. There are so
many guides and videos online that someone new to app development,
someone who knows next to nothing about computer programming, can
have access to powerful tools to make something really cool with advanced
functionality. The world of app development is only growing and these
students are learning quickly how to operate in a world geared toward
mobile technology. The Design Technology teacher has already remarked
that he is seeing students take their knowledge of the App Development
and using it in their Design Technology classes.
A drawback to MIT App Inventor, is that it is currently for Android phones
only. So, we had to have at very least one Android smartphone to work with.
You can download a phone emulator to your computer but it does not give
the students the same feeling of awe as when they are holding a phone that
using an app that they have created.
Middle School Advanced Programming Mornings
How much and how quickly can middle school students learn programming?
At the same speed as high schoolers? Faster? These were questions the R&D
department set out to answer by developing and offering the Advanced
Programming Mornings Prototype in the Middle School.