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Educator Pre-training Pt2

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  • 1. Defining Apps Summary ‘12/13 Overview What is an app? Why is defining an app important? An app consists of Event-Handlers that can ask questions and branch An app consists of Event-Handlers that can ask questions, branch and repeat An app consists of event-handlers that can ask questions, branch, repeat and talk to web services An app consists of event-handlers that can ask questions, branch, repeat and talk to web services, and remember things Educator Task - to be completed by 11/06/12 App Inventor BookNotes from the ‘AfG Educator Pre-training pt 2 2012/13Overview ● What an app is ● Why the definition is important to AfG ● Basic ‘App Mechanics’ - conceptual frameworkmodel of defining apps - by Professor David Wolber of the University of San Franciscovery useful way of communicating how apps work -- and I think you will too.1
  • 2. What is an app?An app is mobile software designed to help the user perform related specific tasks; In shortapps help users to get jobs done.To quote Professor David Wolber, ‘the simplest apps are like recipes” the app gives the phone asequence of things to do. [CLICK] So that on a very basic level that could be as simple as: do Ado B and then do CMost apps, of course, more interactive than this, allowing the user to interact via the userinterface.Why is defining an app important? ● Comprehension: Having a very clear idea of what an app is conceptually, is fundamental to understanding how an app can operate to solve your problems ● Distinction: Most AfG students will not know how to define an App precisely; some may not be sure where the device ends and the app begins ● Context: Most will initially have little idea of what an app can and cannot do - or the class of problems that apps are suitable for. It’s important that you as the educator are sensitive to that, so that when they forget or are not mindful of constraints or opportunities - your questions can bring them back around2
  • 3. Basic App MechanicsThe App as a set of Event HandlersAs programmers, students need to learn to look at what they are creating through the eyes ofthe end-user and from the inside outBut most apps have a graphical user interface and so don’t fit the primitive receipe model I justdescribed. Most apps handle the user doing something - what we call user events. So to extendour recipe, and to quote Professor Wolber“most recipes are only performed in response to an event.”Often times the user initiates these events. she clicks a button, or chooses from a dropdownmenu, for example.The event and the sequence of instructions that follow are known as an ‘event handler”“Nothing happens [in an app] except in response to some event” - WolberSo with that in mind we can define an App Inventor project as a jigsaw puzzle where theprogrammer (that’s you, or your students) need to arrange a landscape of blocks to let thedevice know how to respond to all relevant events.The event handler is the the event (user initiated or otherwise) AND the set of instructions thatis followed when that event occursAn app consists of Event-Handlers that can ask questions and branchThe response to an event is often not linear but conditional. The app can ask questions to querythe data within it and decides what to do next based on the answer.An app consists of Event-Handlers that can ask questions, branch and repeat ● that is the app can repeat an operation multiple times ● two types: while-do (whilst condition x is true, do) and foreach (for each item in the list operation in the list do y)An app consists of event-handlers that can ask questions, branch, repeat and talk to webservices ● Apps can go beyond just communicating with themselves they can3
  • 4. ○ send requests to web services ○ use APIs (application programmer interfaces - a protocol for how to communicate so a serviceAn app consists of event-handlers that can ask questions, branch, repeat and talk to webservices, and remember things ● Apps must remember the data entered into them ● With AI you can create a way for data to persist by using tiny web db, a special web serviceEducator Task - to be completed by 11/06/12Complete to do list app tutorial below by 11 June 2012Once again, just to reiterate: to get the most out of the live training sessions in a few weeks, it’simportant that you get familiar with these concepts. IIf you show up at the training without doingthem, you may find it challenging to keep up.To Do List App Tutorialhttps://appsforgood.onconfluence.com/display/learn/ToDo+List+appApp Inventor BookApp Inventor: Create your own Android Apps. Wolber Abelson,Hard copy from Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/App-Inventor-Create-Your-Android/dp/1449397484Ebook format:http://shop.oreilly.com/product/0636920016632.do4
  • 5. Additional Information - The Steps involved in the course journeyAfG features 2 tracks that happen alongside one another--Steps 1 to 4 (Idea) and Step 5(Practical). The idea is that whilst you are finding problems and coming up with ideas, yourealso learning about how to use tools that will help you to eventually build early stage-versions ofyour solution.Step 1:Problem DiscoveryApps for Good is all about solving problems students care about. This first step is about findingout what those problems are. Students begin by learning about what’s possible with mobilephones, taking a closer look at what an app is and what mobile functions are available by usingGoogle’s App Inventor and tutorials, and on distilling their inspiration into plausible problemsthat can be solved with apps. Through a series of exercises, puzzles and sessions, studentssharpen your skills in finding new opportunities. By looking at your experiences and those ofthe people you know, teams can find a whole range of areas and outcomes to explore!Step 2: ResearchHere students look into the opportunities identified and talk to users, experts and people tovalidate this issue. Students aim to understand what users need, and how you might be able toadd value with a solution. By the end of this stage students should have something which looksmore like a news story, including: ● who the users are ● where the users are located when they have the problem ● why are the users having problems in the first place ● how you might use an app to get a particular job done.Step 3:Solution Design5
  • 6. Solution design involves teams developing a strategy for the best way to make the idea happen.Here students describe possible solutions, choose a solution and then think about the best waysto market the idea, and approach it like a business. Half-way through, students give an IdeasPitch to an audience at school.Step 4: Product DesignOnce solution design is completed students begin describing how your solution will work. Youcan do this in a number of ways, but all involve sketching wireframes. Here you can test youprototype with potential users and respond to the feedback you get.Step 5: First BuildThroughout the above steps students also be learning how to build parts of the app, theimplementation, with tools such as App Inventor. Tools like these allow you to create workingapps that can be downloaded on Android handsets.6