Getting Started Teaching App Development
- Published: Thursday, July 30, 2020
Developing your own apps for mobile devices is fun and surprisingly easy and inexpensive to get started with. Here is how to plan for teaching app development.
- Decide how far to go: Both platforms provide an emulator, which is basically an electronic version of the device you are programming for. The emulator is fully functional and can be good enough to get your feet wet and learn the process. Going further and putting your app on a device may require you to download more software (in the case of MIT App Inventor), special connectors and devices to test on. The final step, publishing an app to an app store, may not be the right way to go. There are no “educational” publishing portals. Each student will have to have an account at the given store (i.e., Google Play, iTunes or Chrome Web Store) and at some point there will be fees involved. But the good news is you don’t need all that to make a fully functioning app!
- Pick a problem: Once students learn the basics of the programming language and interface, give them problems to solve with an app (e.g., it’s dark and my phone doesn’t have a light, how can I make one with an app?).
- Dig deeper: Many of the tools mentioned above can build apps that access the tools on phones such as the microphone, accelerometer and magnetometer. They can also pull information like maps and data straight from the web such as real-time weather, movie times and more. Can your students build a metal detector app or a quick weather app?
Creating apps is one of the most in-demand coding jobs out there right now. Showing students how easy it is to get started can spark a lifelong coder and maybe even provide some real-world job skills!