Teaching Teachers About Mobile Technology

Professor Richard Carter in the Graduate School of Education at Lesley University

Lesley University (Cambridge, MA) offers a master's degree for K-12 teachers in Technology in Education. As part of the program we believe that teachers should not only to learn about the latest technologies, but also have the opportunity to learn about programming. In the past we have offered an elective course in programming using Logo. When I learned about Google App Inventor (AI) it occurred to me that we could offer a course in Mobile Technologies and include programming apps as part of the course. I plunged into App Inventor and was delighted. I am now putting the finishing touches on a new fully online course that will be offered in the Summer of 2012.

Impatient to find out what non-programmers might do using App Inventor I offered a seminar for some colleagues I was working with. We expected ten or so people and 34 showed up for the first session. In the seminar we began with the MIT project materials and from the start the participants wanted to customize the app tutorials: "I want to replace the picture of the cat with pictures of my friends", "I want it to roar rather than meow" - it has been exciting to see them take ownership of the projects. One group is using AI to develop a food choice app as a prototype for a social networking project they are working on, another developed a proportion tester app so that students can check equal proportions they have constructed, and one person, who needed to take eye drops six times a day at equal intervals, created an app he uses when he gets up in the morning to compute when he should take the drops - and wants to extend it so the app will vibrate the phone to remind him.

With these beginnings I am excited to see what teachers will do with Google App Inventor.