Common Sense Review
Updated March 2014

Great mobile app creation site has solid teacher resources
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Common Sense Rating 5
  • The home page has lots of options.
  • The site's simple tutorials make programming easy.
  • An online textbook can help support a full App Inventor course.
  • The Course-in-a-Box includes everything you'll need to teach a programming course,
  • A knowledge map outlines the relationships between concepts.
Students can get real mobile apps running on a phone or tablet within just a few minutes.
Some tools are powerful enough to be overwhelming at times.
Bottom Line
A fantastic and complete introduction to app programming concepts and methods.
David Thomas
Common Sense Reviewer
Common Sense Rating 5
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

An exciting array of resources promise to get students programming right away. But so many options might turn off a newcomer who just wants to know where to start.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 5

Highly structured and detailed lessons walk students through every project in a course-long sequence. Taken together, the whole curriculum provides a complete introduction to mobile programming.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 5

Simple videos and starter lessons get students going. Support forums, examples, and a "course-in-a-box" provide everything a classroom needs to jump into app programming.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

Teachers should think of as a toolbox packed full of options. First decide exactly what you'd like your students to learn and accomplish -- you can use either the App Inventor book or the course-in-a-box option. Once you've worked through the instructional materials, the next steps might include adding students, or possibly making a few modifications to fit a certain format or learning level.

The site's teacher materials include presentation slides, some classroom handouts, and a special teacher forum for questions and conversation. Coding and programming are often collaborative activities, and teaching them isn't any different. It's a great idea to get involved in the forums -- you're bound to find a network of other teachers and instructors who can help you and your students create and problem-solve.

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What's It Like?

The site provides a comprehensive set of resources for teaching and learning programming using the MIT App Inventor and App Inventor 2 tools. The site functions as a nice companion to the book App Inventor: Create and Build Your Own Android Apps. Following the book's detailed, illustrated lessons (which are available online in PDF format), students walk through a series of units focused on key programming concepts. Each of these is presented as an engaging project organized around topics such as gaming or retrieving stock market data from the web.

Step-by-step, the fully illustrated lessons take students through the App Inventor's drag-and-drop puzzle-piece interface (familiar to anyone who has ever used Scratch). There are also downloads of complete projects and, in some cases, video walkthroughs.

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Is It Good For Learning? was designed for teachers by a university professor. As a result, it offers a rich array of teaching resources, guidance, and tools that are ready-made for classroom use. The "course-in-a-box" offers the materials and an outline to help teachers offer a college-level introduction to programming for non-computer science folks. With some minor modifications, the site could provide the spine for a high school intro to programming course that's accessible to almost any level of student who wants to learn how to code.

With that said, some users might find the site's interface just a bit cluttered. While it's great that the site offers resources for both versions of the App inventor tool, new users could get confused. Nevertheless, once they're inside the top-notch, step-by-step lessons, students start learning immediately as they create fully functional mobile apps that respond in real time as they program.

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