Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Why Every Teacher Should Become an App Creator by Chris Thompson

These are my notes from Chris Thompson‘s breakout session, “Why Every Teacher Should Become an App Creator” at the 2012 Mobile Learning Conference in Phoenix, Arizona, on April 11, 2012. MY THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS ARE IN ALL CAPS. The official conference session description was:

Until recently development of mobile learning apps/games has been limited to the technical elite because of the complex development and publishing process. Coupled with the recent lifting of restrictions by mobile device manufacturers and the proliferation of user-friendly authoring tools this is no longer the case. Not only is interactive mobile learning app/game creation now possible by most teachers and students; it is also emerging as a highly engaging classroom learning strategy for middles and high school students. Participants will be introduced to both the why and how of mobile app/game creation for learning.

Chris Thompson is @ctceismc on Twitter. Slides from today are available as a PDF. Chris’ handout for “Tools for App/Game Creation” is available as a separate PDF. An audio recording this session (with permission from Chris, of course) is available as a free podcast on “Fuel for Educational Change Agents.”

Chris Thompson presenting at Mobile Learning 2012

I’m from Georgia Tech in Atlanta, GA
– Chris’ website:

Using surveys from PollEverywhere

Do you think mobile app development is too difficult for most students and teachers?
– most respondents today: Not sure

Reason #1: Mobile app creation and development is not as hard as you think
– young and old are doing it
– 3D game created by a 70 year old
– 9 year old boy in Korea has created published app

Thomas Suarez is app creator of “Bubble Ball” game
– created it in a month and a half

HERE’S A VIDEO “Bubble Ball – Robert Nay 14 years old developer” (NOT THE SAME ONE CHRIS SHARED, BUT SIMILAR)

ANOTHER ONE ON TOPIC, BUT NOT SHARED BY CHRIS: “TEDxManhattanBeach – Thomas Suarez – iPhone Application Developer… and 6th Grader

BElieve is a free game development program for kids ages 5-12

Other game examples created by kids, 99¢ on Apple App Store:
Butterfly Bubble Burst
Valley Girl Buttons

Now watching Chris create a game in 4 minutes using GameSalad
– I could wirelessly transfer that app directly to my iPhone and play it there

PEW Internet Study from 2009: Demographics of teen cell phone users
– 75% of teens in each demographic group

Chris was evaluating a handheld grant in Georgia and found an extremely draconian cell phone policy
– hastily captured photo

Reason #3: New Tools + Old Ways = No Change
– mobiles not just for consuming

Biggest complaint from teachers on iPads: No flash video
– shows how many teachers just view a mobile device as a consumptive device to access/watch content online

Loeve 2: Access Information Anytime
– apps: from superhighway to Bypass
– August 2011 PEW Tracking survey, #2 most popular use for adults was “learning something new”

Level 3: Create Content (apps/games)

Why create mobile content?

Watching: “Baby Thinks a Magazine is a Broken iPad!

Value proposition
– best way to learn something is to teach it
– gives kids and parents something to talk about

Reason #3: Mobile Content Creation = Learning

It’s incredibly engaging for kids to be creating apps and games
– motivation can be high

Just say no to PowerPoint!
– easy to share
– direct business connections

STEM connection
– all STEM jobs require some kind of computational thinking

You think a lot of people are getting rich creating mobile apps/games?

Is there gold in them that apps?
– 500,000+ apps
– 1 of the top 10 jobs in demand today
– the new American dream
– most popular categories: games, books, entertainment, education
– 400 new apps a day now
– 25 billion downloads to date on Apple App store alone

What can you learn creating a mobile app/game?
– user interface design
– instructional design
– media production
– game design
– programing
– robotics
– collaboration
– critical thinking
– marketing/business
– presentation / public speaking
– subject related content of the app / game: STEM skills

NET-S Alignment

STEAM – Integrating the Arts with STEM

Reason f#5: Why Kids Should be Taught How to Code
– article by John Naughton, Open University

It’s becoming a moral obligation to teach kids MORE about technology and how these things operate
– if we don’t they are going to be cut off as users, who don’t know what is behind the curtain
– literacy in the future is not just about searching and finding information, but also being able to figure out when information is being manipulated

Let’s not forget Google manipulates information based on multiple factors when they present it in their search results

Kinds of Mobile Content / Apps
– Dropbox Documents
– images, movies
– web pages
– text and text rich files

On Device Creation
– iMovie, Keynote, Animoto, Flash Cards, TouchApp Creator, Creative Book Builder

iBooks, Kindle eBooks, Podcasts/Vodcasts
– interact books in hybrid forms

Web Apps
– HTML5 browser based, built with webkit
– don’t have to go through the app store

Native Apps
– faster execution than web apps, they are compiled
– full hardware access: accelerometer, GPS, camera, phone, email, gypos, accelerated graphics, etc

eBook / iBook Creation
– Apple Pages export
– Storyist for Mac
– Adobe InDesign
– Apple iBooks Author

Amazon Kindle has SDK, ADobe InDesign Plugin, converter apps



Cartoon: Mom, you forgot to load my apps

Web App Creation Tools
– TouchApp Creator (App Store) – runs on iPad
– is browser-based application, has widgets to select
– – GUI application, lets you program in basic and javascript (even driven point and click) (Windows only) (HTML5, javascript)

Hypercard lives on via


Noncoding tools for Native app development (Mac-only, the program we’ve used for all our camps) click and point
AppInventor (now revived by MIT, Android-only) (iOS only, Scratch-like)

For our first iPhone game camp, we had 80 applicants for 12 slots
– this year had 200+ applications from 4 states and 3 countries

This weeks we are doing 7 weeks of camps, 25 kids at a time
– HUGE Interest in crating this kind of content

REsults to date:
i 92% said this has increased their interest in CS strongly
– 100% more likely to choose STEM career

What else can you do with a handheld
– control real world robotic devices
AR Drone

Sphero is $100 rolling ball robot, iOS controllable

Our camp model: Kids learn techniques for 3 days, and then have 2 days to work on their own apps, then parents come for a showcase

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