Teaching Mobile App Design with App Inventor at Boise State University

At Boise State University, we offered an online workshop in summer 2011 and an online graduate course in fall 2011 on mobile app design for teaching and learning using App Inventor. The workshop was offered through Extended Studies, and the course was offered through Department of Educational Technology. Similar to much of the wonderful effort on AI for education around the globe, we have interesting curriculum and excited students. What is unique about our workshop and course is that our students are adult learners, mostly working professionals interested in educational use of technology.

While we did not introduce AI directly to the “typical” students (K-16), we helped empower educators who can influence more K-16 students than we possibly can, which is a scope making us excited. In fact, a few students specifically indicated their interest and planned on getting right back to AI once MIT’s instance is up and running. One of our students already included AI in his teaching of introductory java programming course at high school, parallel to his learning in the online graduate course. Another student proposed to collaborate with the IT director at his middle school to help students delve into mobile app design with AI. Many students in the class commented on the potential of AI for engaging K-16 students in developing logical thinking, problem solving, creativity, and of course--fun and useful apps. We are also encouraged by the high percentage of female “App Inventors” in class, the level of mutual support among students in class, and the variety of projects our students proposed and completed for teaching and learning in their own contexts. Our students came into class with interest and high expectations, and they have become even more passionate about using AI in education because of what they have accomplished in course and AI’s potential outside of this course. We plan to offer the workshop again in summer 2012 and the graduate course in fall 2012. We will continue to embrace the exciting educational value of AI, contribute as a member of AI community, and get ready to be inspired by other projects of AI in education around the world. Yu-Chang Hsu, PhD