{Year 2} [Session 12] There’s a Good App (Inventor) for that (2012)

Enhance 34 to 46

Depending on how accessible the particular app creator software is for the primary schoolchild, the Apps For Good project has enormous potential for transfer into the primary classroom. There is no reason why the audience should be restricted to secondary school and beyond.

Go right

The key is making apps that contribute to the social good. Any small child can socially construct the idea of a greater good, a public good and social justice. Indeed, small children may well have more utopian ideas than older children, informed by the general goodness of the books they read and the media they consume than older children (without wanting to generalise). So the idea of making apps for good stands for younger children. They also like apps and use them. Why not make them?

The idea of moving from using apps to creating them, taking on the role of the App Inventor in a design context and thinking through the entire process in the rational model is a valid and important process for primary school learners (and educators).

Wait a minute

Before we even consider the constructionist theory involved in actually making the app, we can enjoy the benefits of the enquiry (why do we need this app?), the procedure (how will we make this app?) and the result (here is our app – try it!).

Track 45 left

Children can become App Inventors as long as we have develop coding languages that suit the children. With the recent developments in Scratch and Kodu – and this is only scratching the surface (no pun intended) – the language is accessible and fun, and leads into the Papertian territory of acceptable falsity and the risk-free experimentation (psychosocial moratorium) of James Paul Gee.

Apps are not only a good idea for our classroom, they are essential. It doesn’t really matter if the children don’t succeed. There are many intrinsic benefits associated with mathematical thinking, logic, linguistics, and other conventional curriculum concerns. I love this idea. Everybody wins – and this is also a social good.

Now enhance 15 to 23

Of course, as my allegiance to Google grows ever more inexorably toward devotee status, I should point out some of the deeply subtle, intellectual and delightful Easter Eggs of the Google nomenclature.

We know that Google and MIT are involved in the App Inventor project. Miles Berry gave us the definitive demo of MIT/Google’s App Inventor and I cannot see why a young scientist would not get to grips with it. It isn’t that much more complicated than BYOB or StarLogo. The added benefit is the functionality of telecommunication commands (text, tweet) that children will intuitively understand – and as Berry’s Ball-bearing III demo showed, you can be hooked in less than ten minutes.

Nexus-1 Android Intelligence

But I digress. Google is inventing more than apps. It is inventing artificial intelligence. We cannot guarantee Nexus-6 replicants by 2019, but Google is already at Nexus 1 (Nexus One) of its Android portfolio.

It cannot be mere coincidence that the two key words in Google’s mobile intelligence lexicon, NEXUS and ANDROID, are direct connections to the genius of Philip K. Dick, who wrote Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which of course, gave us Blade Runner, the ultimate expression of the cyberpunk future. The Wall Street Journal was impressed enough to pick up the story: Nexus Name Irks Author's Estate, and it also blogged on the topic – both news items are worth reading.

Which of course, is another way of saying that science fiction is at the centre (the nexus, if you will) of the most important source of progress in educational technology: Google and MIT, which will one day be known as the Tyrell Corporation (allegedly, maybe).

Which makes me realise that we are all app inventors for good – a truth so awesome it needs its own soundtrack.

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