For the last three months, seventh graders have had weekly lessons in designing and building mobile apps for Android devices. A newly purchased class set of Android mobile phones, in combination with a generous grant of 60 site licenses of Balsamiq Mockups 3 (from the company, valued at $89 for a single user), has made it possible for our newest app developers on campus to begin learning the process of building mobile apps. Students map out their ideas in Balsamiq, share them, and then make them come to life in MIT App Inventor (an apps development software presented by Massachusetts Institute of Technology).
After several classes of learning and exploring both Balsamiq and MIT App Inventor, students are now charged with their first creative assignment – building essential foreign phrases apps to assist travelers who do not speak the local language. Students provide a list of twenty phrases, grouped in to categories, that can be browsed by the user in English. Once selected, the phrase is spoken by the phone on the user’s behalf (e.g. user selects the phrase “Please take me to the airport”, which is then vocalized by the phone in a polished French accent as “Merci de me conduire à l’aéroport.”)