RAs and UROPs in Mobile Computing and Educational Technology

The Center for Mobile Learning has Spring 2014 RAs and UROP slots for work in mobile computing and education. The research involves MIT App Inventor, a Web-based development environment for creating original apps for Android smartphones and tablets. The system is intended for people without programming experience, such as high school and middle school students, college non-computer science students, and hobbyists.

Our group run a large-scale public Web service, with 3,000,000 users, that lets people all over the world create their own mobile applications, and lets schools all over the world include mobile computing in their middle and high school curriculum.

UROP projects can range anywhere from developing new curriculum and programming language features and trying these with kids and teachers, to doing critical systems development and design work on a global-scale Web service for tens of thousands of users.

We're looking for people who are interested in educational technology and who also have skills in Java and/or Javascript. Experience with the Android OS would be a definite plus.

If you're interested, you should:

Begin by going to the MIT App Inventor site at appinventor.mit.edu to learn about App Inventor. Look under "Blog" and read some of the "Stories" to learn about people do with App Inventor. Follow the instructions under Getting Started to play with the system and create a couple of apps, and do a couple of the tutorials.

Talk to some of the people on the App Inventor team: (Michael Phox (mphox@mit.edu) and Wei Li (wli17@mit.edu).
After you've done this, send email to (all of) Hal Abelson (hal@mit.edu), Andrew McKinney (mckinney@mit.edu), and Marisol Diaz (marisold@mit.edu) describing what projects you've built with App Inventor (above). Also describe your background -- especially any experience with Java or Android -- and your interest and availability.

Here are some projects we're looking for help with:

Join the App Inventor development team
Become part of the core team that is providing an extensive web service to a community of close to a million users. Fix bugs, add features, moderate the community forums, set new development priorities.

Collect and Curate App Inventor curriculum
There have been several people creating App Inventor curriculum. We need help in collecting and curating this material and setting up a worldwide App Inventor curriculum resource.

Add new features to App Inventor
Extend App Inventor by adding new components, improving the programming language, and incorporating more capabilities of the Android platform. This generally involves programming in Java and learning about the Android OS.

Create new learning activities and curriculum units
Explore new ideas for teaching science, math, and technology using App Inventor. Create preliminary
curriculum units and try them out with kids. Help run workshops for students and teachers.

Support the App Inventor user community
Play an active role on the user forums, collect bugs and feature requests, and see that these are addressed. Become a leader and a moderator in a community to thousands to teachers, students, and hobbyists.