Ed's Tech Focus

February 2013 Archives

Learning to Design and Develop Mobile Apps

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http://www.instant.ly/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/innovativelyorganized.jpgThere has been growing interest and discussion around designing and developing mobile apps in K-12 education. As I continue to research and learn about the myriad of ways to approach app development across the various mobile platforms (iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows, Kindle, and others), I am reminded of just how rapidly the field is changing and how interconnected once unimagined services are becoming.  By interconnected services, or platforms if you will, I mean we once had computers and computer applications as the main point of development to consider, but today we have smart phones, e-readers, televisions, media entertainment systems, game consoles, computers, embedded displays, robots, car systems, and even glasses.

Given this, here are a number of the resources for teaching and learning app design and development that I have compiled and thought worthy of sharing.  Keep in mind, that learning the tools is one thing, learning to be creative and innovative is another.

Similar to MIT Scratch or CMU Alice for beginning with programming, the http://www.AppInventor.org/  site which is tied Course-in-a-box and MIT's App Inventor for Android appears to have the lowest learning curve and most readily available curriculum I have seen.
This being said, I think the students background, or if you were building a course around this, the prerequisites and prior learning would be a significant consideration for where it fits relative to other courses you may offer and devices that may be available for example if everyone in your school has an iPhone, iPod or iPad then focusing on Android while it may have some tools that are easier to access and start learning with, it may not be the most relevant for the students.  Also, if they are high school level and already had courses in C and/or Java programming, or if your school has a course that teaches Adobe Flash Professional and Action Script then it might be better to focus on tools that leverage them to build apps, since prior learning could be established.
Here is the list of tools and resources, in the order I would likely go through them.

A good overview of native app development tools, programming languages they leverage and a high level view of creating and publishing an app in the different online stores for Windows Mobile, Android and Apple is available through the Computer Science Teachers Association.  Having this level of understanding of the native development tools, Software Development Kits (SDKs) and languages involved should help with conceptual discussions.

Tools, videos and resources:
Start thinking about Applications for the Web, Desktop and Mobile
(The following video is about 10 minutes and gets into some interesting development considerations at about 7 minutes)
Depending on students knowledge of design and programming, and for additional background and resources on developing for mobile devices, designing for varying screen sizes, making controls touch centric and creating and publishing content, I suggest signing up for a free account at the following sites.  Then explore their guides, tutorials and other resources.

Content examples on these sites:
·         iOS Guides on Human Interface Design and making apps that are touch centric (taps, swipes, gestures) as opposed to click centric.  Start Developing iOS Apps Today with these essential references.
·         Probably begin with the Intro slide show https://developer.apple.com/library/ios/#referencelibrary/GettingStarted/RoadMapiOS/chapters/Introduction.html
·         Android guides on app quality and User Interface design.
·         Their design information is decent, but it quickly gets into the Android SDK http://developer.android.com/design/index.html
If you are knowledgeable about HTML, CSS and Javascript then http://phonegap.com/ is a potential route for packaging web content into a downloadable app.  They also now have an option to leverage Adobe Phonegap build cloud service https://build.phonegap.com/
Corona SDK
Not free, but Corona Labs has a cross platform authoring environment which is cross platform and allows you to build for multiple devices.
Sign Up for:
Free Apple iOS Developer Account
If you have an existing Apple ID for iTunes you can sign in with that.
(If you get to the point of publishing an iOS app you need developer certificates unique to you and I at that point there would be some fees involved).
Android Developer Site
(Note: You may not need an account to get resources and they are transitioning from Android Marketplace to Google Play which introduces some different processes)
If looking at Adobe Flash for apps, or Adobe Indesign for packaging magazines or other publications as interactive apps, create a Free Adobe account and sign into
Adobe Education Exchange
On the Adobe Education Exchange, explore Adobe Lesson plans and other resources such as
"Basic Animation Techniques"
"Introduction to Adobe Flash Professional CS5" although the tools for designing and exporting apps are improved in CS6.
Adobe CS6 Flash and related tools
Looking at Using Adobe Flash Professional to build an app, there are various resources available, but the Against the Clock textbooks covers the entire program, a related teacher community, and includes sections on publishing the app for Android, iOS, or other platforms using the Adobe AIR runtime.
Explore videos available from Adobe TV

See how Flash, Dreamweaver and other Apps such as InDesign used by many Yearbook and student Newspapers can be used together with Photoshop and other tools for Web and App Design as well as Publishing, Illustration, Photo, etc.
Get Started with

Creating Mobile Apps and Websites with Design and Web Premium CS6 on YouTube

Publishing Workflows for AIR for IOS

Related Creative Suite Tools and Technologies:
How To Create iPad Apps Using InDesign CS6

iOS App Icon Design Tutorial in Illustrator and Photoshop CS6

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Kids+Creativity Growing Up in Pittsburgh

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I recently attended the Kids+Creativity Network Remake Learning launch event held at Carnegie Mellon University here in Pittsburgh.  The level of interest, collaboration and engagement across the region and the innovative ideas emerging from everyone involved is simply fantastic.

Take a look for yourself and watch Kids+Creativity: Building a Regional Learning Network

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from February 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

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