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Winchester High School’s New Course: “Designing Applications (Apps) for Androids”

Winchester High School class takes advantage of technology.

The following was submitted by Annette Voorhes

Have you ever wondered how our students will be involved in the future of mobile devices? Well, in the new WHS course, Designing Applications (Apps) for Androids” that future is happening now. (Android devices are internet-connected cell phones and tablet computers similar to the Iphone and Ipad; but currently have fewer design and publishing restrictions, and therefore are better educational tools for this course).

Four-year  WHS Technology Teacher Daniel Downs, realized that the future of technology is moving toward mobile devices. He has created a curriculum that challenges the students in the design, implementation, and testing process using tools chosen for their superior interactive educational value. These tools such as Adobe Flash CS5 and Accelerometer programs, allow the students to achieve an unusual classroom success---the success of being able to design, implement, test, and immediately use their designs on technology already part of daily life.

These tools are part of “hypermedia” as opposed to “multimedia”. Hypermedia is far more interactive and therefore far more absorbing to students. Because Mr. Downs's curriculum and tools stress relevance in students' daily life, there is enormous productivity in the classroom..

The Designing Applications for Androids class, in two months, has designed and published 32 original Children’s Games. These games include: Healthy Helper, The Adventures of Piggly Wiggly, Spooky Shapes, Build a Buddy (bear), and many more. These are all currently published on the class’s tablet computers. Currently students are designing Apps to potentially replace the school’s paper agenda planners.

Student Sean Cronin demonstrated how his App would allow WHS students to type in their homework under digital touch-sensitive buttons connected to each teacher’s website. AJ Kurban and Sam Hall are designing an agenda planner app that allows users to alternatively enter the homework in themselves. Diane Tam’s Agenda Planner App listed whs clubs, sports, and at the end of the function list, had a great Countdown to Summer!

Soon, students will conduct a survey of the entire WHS community’s mobile device application needs. Then, they will design apps to satisfy these needs. In one semester, students will have learned to design, implement, test, survey, and design for others.

Outside of the classroom, students Rameel Rana and Ryan Murphy accompanied Mr. Downs recently to the Mass Cue Conference (in Technology Education).

In order to assure other educators about the ease of use for Flash cs5, Java, Phone Gap, and Google App Inventor tools, they demonstrated skill-based lessons in: “button input fields”, the “accelerometer” (hardware enabling to movement of an object responding to tipping the device), creating  “action codes” to “pinch and zoom”, skills in “exporting”, and in “software integration”. Mr. Downs also presented a power point presentation. Going to this conference allowed students to positively affect Technology Education far beyond Winchester.

For further details about this new course at WHS, please visit their website at www. androidapplicationsclass.com

If readers would like to donate additional tablets to this class, please contact Daniel Downs at WHS at ddowns@winchester.k12.ma.us. In addition,  if there are parents ormembers of the community that can assist us in any way we are open to it. Any parents with experience programming Java or experience in the Mobile App/Device industry would be appreciated. To share your skills and experience, please contact ddowns@winchester.k12.ma.us.

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