MIT App Inventor

My step son has started to show an interest in some programming as he loves being around computers. So I started to look at some various options. I basically narrowed it down to 2 options to start with:

  1. MIT App Inventor
  2. Kodu

I wanted the ability for him to be able to use his school laptop for learning. This is locked down by the school so he can’t install any software. This unfortunately ruled Kodu out as an option, which is a shame as it looked like an interesting graphical way for kids to learn. We therefore started to look at MIT App Inventor 2. This is like a cloud based IDE where all your projects saved in the project. It allows you to work with your Android enabled tablet or phone and create applications for it.

There are some very easy tutorials to follow which allow the user to come up with some pretty nice apps very quickly. We started with the first tutorial available which allows the user to create a basic app that gets the phones on board text to speech component to speak the text provided. This all took less than 5 mins, and within another couple of mins we had it extended that one the phone shook it also cause the phone to speak the desired text (“Stop shaking me!”).

We’re only just starting on this learning journey but I was very impressed by how quickly it can create a simple app that is easily understood by children.

The UI doesn’t require any code to be built, but instead uses jigsaw like pieces to plug apps together. There are specific pieces for Events, objects and actions which due to their shape make it impossible to plug the wrong type into the wrong place. Making it a great learning environment.

I’m looking forward to try out some of the great projects that are already out there and shared in the community to try.


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