Android App Course thoughts

I want to develop an Android app writing course for the kids.  Something project based. It would be Android because we are a PC school and Android apps can be loaded directly from the computer to a phone which makes testing a breeze.  I have to decide on an IDE or language or something. I have used App Inventor and am less than impressed. Lots of connection issues and the language itself is pretty limited.  It is not something to write a professional app on. I have look at Android Studio and the learning curve looked a bit steep for high school. One of my daughter’s ex-boyfriends is working on his CS degree and is a programming geek.  He was going to write an app with Android Studio but backed out after working with the IDE. That makes me even less inclined to go that way. Another option, which I am starting to lean toward, is Javascript. I have done a tiny bit of research looking at Javascript but it seems to be a possibility.  Apparently Android apps can be written with Python. Since I am familiar with Python and already offer a Python course this is a strong possibility. Another direction to research.

The biggest issue I am having is the number of directions I can go.  There is simply so much available that I just do not know which way to go.  I have some sharp kids interested in doing this next semester. I can always make the course less writing apps and more looking at software to write apps and then build the app writing course for next Fall.  I think I am going to have to put some serious time into just figuring out the best option. I do not want to select a direction then find out we are in over our head.

I hate the Good Idea Fairy.

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9 Responses to “Android App Course thoughts”

  1. Alfred Thompson Says:

    I’m teaching with AppInventor for the second year and I really think I have to use something else next year. You’ve outlined all of the reasons in your post. I’ve also heard about the learning curve on Android Studio. There really needs to be something easier for students. Something between AppInventor and Android Studio.

    I don’t have the time I’d like to search right now. I should have done so over the summer I guess.

  2. gflint Says:

    I am going to look at Corona again. It uses Lua, a very simple and easy to learn language. I am on the research path. I will keep you up to date.

  3. Jon Howard Says:

    You could try https://thunkable.com/ – It looks like a cross platform variant of App Inventor. I have some of my middle school students trying Corona and it looks decent, but harder than App Inventor

  4. Brian Meermans Says:

    My high school students were handling Android Studio. It is definitely a step up from things like JavaFX or Swing, but doable. It depends on how much they have been prepped – I would definitely not start with Android Studio as there would be just too much ‘trust me’ code, where they would be typing certain pieces of code in a lot with not enough background knowledge to figure out what they were doing.

    However, where we failed was in my county messing with the firewall too much. On one of their not-thought-through updates they killed the ability to allow Android Studio to start new projects. They don’t know how they did it, but they did it. It was also a problem with our computers only having 4GBs of ram and being 8 years old. The emulator had no chance of running so we had to run the code on phones/tablets. Had we had remotely modern computers and a county that did not like locking everything down to the point that it stops software – Android Studio can be done in high school (again, if you have students who are prepped well).

    • gflint Says:

      RAM. I did not even think of that. We are mostly 2gbs. What are you using for a text or guide?

      • Brian Meermans Says:

        I’ve gone through part of a Udemy course myself to get an idea, read part of a book, then I build my own things for the students. For example, I had the students build an app that mimics an old-school school locker. So they had to rotate the lock based on the location and differences between movements of touch on the device, rotating the image to match, and figure out when the lock has begun rotating opposite directions and such. It was interesting math with trig or vectors for them to figure out. The lock also had to be ‘hiding’ something, which was up to them what you found when you unlocked the device.

        Android Studio I believe requires at minimum 4GBs of ram, and an additional 2GBs of ram if you want to use the emulator. But, you really should have 8.

  5. Android App Course: The continuing saga | Garth's CS Education Blog Says:

    […] and testing. Not something most teachers have time for. One of the respondents to my initial Android App Course post, Brian Meerman, is using it at the high school level with success.  It sound like the students are […]

  6. Cyril Pruszko Says:

    LiveCode? …much easier to build for – https://sites.google.com/a/pgcps.org/livecode/building-for-andr
    And deploy – https://sites.google.com/a/pgcps.org/livecode/app-programming/on-phone

    You are welcome to use my lessons, projects, demos and examples which are all online.

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