Teach Coding to Young People with MIT App Inventor

In the course of carrying out research for the Coding for Young People project, it was concluded that the MIT App Inventor platform is a very useful tool for introducing coding — and specifically Android smartphone application development — to young people. On that basis, the CYP project has created unique content related to teaching this platform that can be used by anyone to learn coding with the MIT App Inventor for Android.

Below please find unique Coding for Young People project content to support learning and teaching MIT App Inventor for Android, as well as general resources in several European languages which are freely available to start young people on their MIT App Inventor adventure!cyp vid

  1. Coding for Young People “Translate It!” Smartphone Application Trainer Tutorial for MIT App Inventor for Android:
    Video Details:  The 50-minute tutorial video is divided into four chapters of ten minutes each.
    Language Setting:  Subtitles for the video are available in almost any language by doing the following:
    a) Click on the “CC” icon beneath the video to enable the Subtitles/Closed Caption feature;
    b) Click on the Settings wheel and select the “Subtitles/CC” option;
    c) Choose the “English (auto-generated)” option;
    d) Click on “Auto-translate”; and
    e) Select your Subtitles language in the drop-down menu.
  2. Guide for the Coding for Young People MIT App Inventor “Translate It!” Trainer Tutorial
  3. MIT App Inventor Platform:  Available in ten languages including English, French, Italian and Spanish.
  4. Additional MIT App Inventor Resources by Country/Language:
  5. Teachers of MIT App Inventor:
    Global Teacher Map
    English Teacher’s Forum
  6. MIT App Inventor Forums by Language:
  7. MIT App Inventor Certified Master Trainers:
    Belgium (English)
    French (France)
    Dutch (Netherlands)

Additional CYP information on MIT App Inventor for Android and on coding for young people in Europe may be found below:

For more background on the Coding for Young People project, funded by the Erasmus+ program of the European Commission, please contact Consulta Europa  project leader.  For questions about the above other MIT App Inventor inquiries, please feel free to contact project partners in their home countries:

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Learn Computational Thinking with MIT App Inventor

Guest Expert:  Rosanna Kurrer – Cofounder and Digital Literacy Lead, Digital Leadership Institute

Literacy in the 21st Century will be more about learning to read and write, and having basic mathematical skills. Children growing up today are facing a future job market where a considerable proportion of the jobs do not exist yet, and if they do, these jobs will probably evolve to require different skill sets than they do today.

As the world is increasingly turning to digital solutions to overcome complex challenges, a new kind of literacy is being expected of the workforce, that which include a myriad of digital skills that young people sometimes find hard to fulfill. In addition, the pace of constant innovation comes with the need for life-long learning, as new technology is replaced by even newer ones.

This leaves educators and parents the question of what children should learn nowadays to be able to keep up with all the disruptions happening across all industries and fields of study? The answer to this question put forward by the tech industry is computational thinking.

Computational thinking is a problem-solving methodology that consists of concepts such as algorithm, abstraction, decomposition and pattern recognition, used by computer scientists to tackle complex challenges. Being skilled in using these core concepts in designing real-world solutions allows anyone to be able to adapt to evolving digital tools.

Illustration 1: The designer editor with the palette containing all necessary components such as buttons, labels and images.

The best way to teach and develop computational thinking skills is by creating computational solutions, such as mobile applications, which address real needs. The MIT App Inventor is a powerful tool that allows beginners to develop both simple and advanced smartphone apps for Android through the process of learning-by-doing. Students acquire the skills and mindset necessary for designing digital solutions, which then give them a firm foundation from which to learn other programming platforms.

The MIT App Inventor tool was developed in 2009 by Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Hal Abelson with the mission of democratising software development and encouraging people to become creators of technology. Seven years later, it has grown to a community of 5.7 million users from 195 countries, with over 19 million apps built.

Illustration 2: The blocks editor is where the coding is done, and is also where all the built-in commands for the components can be found.

MIT App Inventor for Android is a web-based application that makes programming visual through the use of drag-and-drop building blocks. Built-in components allow the user to develop sophisticated applications such as e-commerce apps which require cloud-based databases, or Internet of Things (IoT) projects that require interfacing with Bluetooth enabled micro-controllers. There are two editors with the following functions:

  1. Designer Editor:   allows the user to design how the app looks; and
  2. Blocks Editor:  used to program the behaviour of the app and its visual components, such as buttons and images.

It is also possible to live-test projects, while the app is being programmed by using the AI2 Companion App. This can be downloaded for free from the Play Store onto any mobile Android device. This makes it possible for users to test each step of the development of the app.

Illustration 3: The MIT AI2 Companion App is used to live-test the applications built during the development phase.

The MIT App Inventor programming tool has proven to be very useful for students, entrepreneurs and enterprises to build useful custom mobile applications, as well as to learn computer science principles in a project-based learning environment.  For this reason, we have chosen to showcase and teach this platform as a key tool in the Coding for Young People project.  If you would like more information about MIT App Inventor for Android or the CYP project, please contact us.

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CYP Database on Coding Initiatives for Young People

The Coding for Young People project has published a Database of Coding Initiatives for Young People in Belgium, Italy and Spain, in the form of an easy-to-use Excelsheet, which provides an overview of coding activities in the noted countries with the following details:

  1. Name of initiative, organisation and contact details
  2. Type of initiative:  Face-to-face, online, etc.
  3. Targeted age-groups and language(s)
  4. Duration of activities
  5. Types of coding activities carried out and coding languages, where specified

If you have any suggestions and/or would like to add your organisation or initiative to the database, please contact us.

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CYP Study on Coding for Young People

The Coding for Young People project has published a Study on Digital Initiatives in Belgium, Spain and Italy, which provides an overview of the following topics in the three noted countries:

  1. Level of digital competences of young people
  2. Programming in formal and non-formal education
  3. Ecosystem for learning coding
  4. Best practices for learning coding in a non-formal way
  5. Non-formal digital initiatives focusing on girls

Findings of the study were presented at the first CYP multiplier event which took place on 21 June 2016 in Brussels.



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Belgian Multiplier Event

On 21 June 2016 in Brussels, the inaugural Coding for Young People multiplier event was organised by the Digital Leadership Institute, Brussels-based partner to the CYP project, as an official side-event of the first-ever Digital Festival in Europe. The event included a best practices roundtable on Coding for Young People in Europe and an Android coding workshop for young people.

At this event targeting students, educators, administrators and policy-makers, expert panelists led a discussion on best practices in coding for youth from across Europe. The roundtable was followed by an Android smartphone coding workshop for young people which was also open to members of the public.

14:30-14:35: Welcome by Cheryl Miller, Cofounder, Digital Leadership Institute

14:50-16:00: Expert-led Best Practices Roundtable:

Moderator: Ms. Cheryl Miller, Cofounder, Digital Leadership Institute

15:45-17:30: Android Coding Workshop for Young People:
Following the best practices roundtable, Ms. Rosanna Kurrer, Digital Leadership Institute Cofounder, led a hands-on Android Coding workshop with MIT App Inventor, that targeted young people ages 11 and up.

Minutes of the event may be found here and pictures are on the DLI Facebook page and Digital Festival Facebook page.

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