Teaching App Inventor

App Inventor has the potential to transform Computer Science education. It is the best tool I've seen in terms of allowing "non-techies" to write computer programs, and I've been teaching Computer Science for seventeen years!

I've taught App Inventor for over two years at the University of San Francisco. The course is CS 107: Computing, Mobile Apps, and the Web. Many students take the course because it satisfies their Math requirement and they're scared of Math. The students come from History, Literature, Politics, Design, Business, and just about every other major at USF.

Because of App Inventor, the students spent hours in the lab working on projects. Often, I had to kick people out of class because the next class was coming in. The students built some great apps, many of which are featured on the App Inventor site. And they improved their problem solving skills and knowledge of computer science immeasurably.

So, do you try App Inventor in the classroom instead of Scratch, Alice, Lego Mindstorms, or a more traditional programming experience? My emphatic answer is YES! The key is this: (young) people love their phones, the phones are practically an extension of their bodies. The idea that they can customize and build new software for this most beloved device is incredible to them! Animations and robots are cool, but with App Inventor you can build anything, including apps that directly improve your everyday life (and those of your friends).

Couple this high-level of motivation with a visual "building block" method of programming designed by Google engineers, and you have a tool that can change not only how apps are developed, but who develops them.

App Inventor Courses

pp inventor programming contest, spring 2010.

This course helped me see how powerful modern technology really is.  Befor
e this class, I never in a million years thought that creating apps for phones was so accessible and simple to create/test.  I now have a huge amount of respect for professional computer programmers and the people who program very complex applications for any device.  I enjoy learning about computers much more because of this class, but I am also very intimidated by how gigantic the computing world is.
      USF Student from CS 107: Computing, Robots, and the Web