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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

High School Class Gives New Meaning to Learning Apps by Stephen Noonoo

In Daniel Downs' new computer science class at Winchester High School in Massachusetts, students aren't students aren't using mobile apps to learn so much as they're learning to create them. Earlier this year, Downs, a technology teacher at the school, developed a course that lets students design their own Android apps from the ground up, even if they have no development experience.


Already in its second semester, Downs' students have created more than two-dozen children's games and storytelling apps for their Motorola Xoom tablets, with names like Healthy Helper, The Adventures of Piggly Wiggly, and Spooky Shapes. This term, the students are working on a group project to design and build an app for the school.

Downs modeled the class to meet the objectives set forth in Standard 3 of the Massachusetts Technology Literacy Standards and Expectations, a publication that defines what the state's K-12 students should know in order to use technology for learning. The standard Downs chose requires students to be able to "use technology for research, critical thinking, problem solving, decision making, communication, collaboration, creativity, and innovation"--all skills covered by the course.

Students are "going to have to think critically about whether this is a role they want to take on or not," Downs said. "I'm trying to get it so that students understand the roles they're taking on as they develop an app for the group."

The result, Downs said, is a curriculum that resonates with students and keeps them learning. "The main thing that I really want them to gain is that they can actually develop something that has a real world application," he said.
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Source: THE Journal