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Updates from App Authors sites

Updates from our Partner Sites

We have received helpful feedback from our partner site in Frederick County, Maryland regarding their iteration of the curriculum. The Frederick County team ran the program over the summer, and gave us useful insights into how the curriculum could be adapted for use in a public library.

Our partner site in Homer, Alaska just finished up their first iteration of the program, which began in November. Our team was unable to make it to Alaska to do an in-person training session beforehand, but Lizzy ran a training session with Homer Public Library Youth Services Librarian Claudia Haines and a teen volunteer over Zoom, a video conferencing program. The Homer team had some great ideas for their iteration of App Authors, including plans to invite native Alaskan guest speakers to talk to the participants about coding, and we are excited to hear how their program went! The Homer team is also planning to run another iteration of the program this spring.

Our partner site in Springfield, Oregon began running a teen-mentored coding class in November. Since this teen-mentor aspect strongly correlates to our future research ideas, we are greatly looking forward to gaining insights and ideas about near-peer mentoring from our Springfield team. The Springfield Public Library will also be hosting a three-day coding camp over this winter break, and we are interested to hear more about the logistics and outcomes of this condensed program.

Our partners at Kenwood Elementary School here in Champaign will be hosting another iteration of the App Authors program this spring. Lizzy Isbell will be the session leader, and sessions will take place during Kenwood’s after-school Tech Time program. I (Lizzy) am really looking forward to teaching the program again, and I look forward to the challenge of adapting my experience with teaching the curriculum at a public library to this iteration at a school library.

Our App Authors team is also currently in conversations with several potential partner sites. We are looking at bringing the App Authors program to another Illinois site and a site in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We are also potentially looking for a site in the southwest.

We’re looking forward to seeing the App Authors program run again with old friends and spread wider in the new year.

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Update from the App Authors team

Updates from the App Authors Team:

In October, Dr. Rachel Magee presented at the Digital Media & Learning Conference at the University of California, Irvine. Her presentation, titled “App Authors: Kids Designing, Creating, and Sharing Apps in Informal Learning Settings,” focused on the App Authors framework, our current curriculum and findings, and opportunities for future work in this area.

In November, Dr. Deborah Stevenson and graduate student Lizzy Isbell presented together at a Research Showcase hosted by the University of Illinois’ School of Information Sciences. Deborah spoke about the background and research aspects of App Authors, while Lizzy talked about the most recent curriculum iteration she had taught at the Douglass Branch of the Champaign Public Library over the summer.

In December, Deborah and Lizzy met with our technical design team at Pixo to discuss ideas for App Authors going forward. We talked about the importance of longevity and sustainability of the project, with particular focus on exploring various platforms for keeping the curriculum alive and easily shareable. Currently, we have materials in both Google Drive and Box folders, but our goal is to make our materials easily accessible from one platform. We also discussed creating an easy way for interested parties to find the most useful “flavor” of the curriculum based on their own time constrictions and prospective audience.

Our team has also been in conversation about the next steps for App Authors once our grant ends in fall 2018. We have discussed developing an “App Educators” program, utilizing teen mentors to teach coding to our target audience of younger children. Please let us know if your library might be interested in partnering with us to further our research in these possible next steps!

In other news, Deborah Stevenson will be talking about App Authors to an international audience in June at Princeton University’s 2018 International Symposium for Children’s Literature & the US-China Symposium for Children’s Literature.

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App Authors project moves forward at new sites

App Authors project moves forward at new sites

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MEDIA CONTACT: Kate Quealy-Gainer (kqueal1@illinois.edu|217-265-0608)

Champaign, IL (January 5, 2017)—App Authors has expanded its reach beyond Champaign as programs are implemented at our partner sites in Maryland, Oregon, and Alaska. The project, developed by the Center for Children’s Books and funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, aims to give young participants a chance to explore, play, and create their own apps through a child-centered curriculum. It engages kids regardless of experience level and gives them familiarity with problem solving and the opportunity to develop critical thinking skills.

In Frederick, Maryland, librarians at the C. Burr Artz library completed a two-week session of App Authors this past summer. Participants were introduced to various coding applications and terminology and then worked on coding through different online programs, including those from Code.org and the App Lab during one hour periods.

In August and December, App Authors was offered at the Springfield Public Library in Oregon. Youth services librarian LuCinda Gustavson added a new element to her use of the program, inviting teens from the first session in the summer to return for the second session to act as mentors and guides for younger participants.

Gustavson says, “The kids really became engrossed in the projects. It has given these kids a real connection to the library as the they continue to work on their apps even after the session ends, and they have stayed in contact with myself and our tech person for assistance.”

Claudia Haines of Alaska’s Homer Public Library also ran the program at her library in the fall, and plans for a spring session are underway.

The App Authors project will continue to work with those sites in the coming year and will also carry on in Champaign as dates are decided for sessions at Kenwood Elementary.

This is the second phase of the CCB’s Closing the App Gap three-year project, which addresses the app gap, the income-related disparity in young people’s access to handheld technology. The project will develop curricula for app-building in school and public libraries and will see the program repeated at the above mentioned sites plus two to five new library venues, allowing us to reach hundreds of children directly and to refine a program that other libraries can adopt for their own use. The Institute of Museum and Library Services awarded the Center for Children’s Books $248,205 to support the project.

The project is led by Dr. Deborah Stevenson, Director of the Center for Children’s Books, with co-PIs Dr. Kate McDowell, Associate Professor, and Dr. Rachel Magee, Assistant Professor.

The Center for Children’s Books is a research center devoted to the study of youth, literature, and media. To learn more, visit the App Authors site at http://appauthors.ischool.illinois.edu/, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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Douglass Session wrap up

Our summer session at Douglass Library wrapped up on July 17th with several kids showing off their apps to friends and family. Overall, the seven week program was quite successful, with a larger than expected turn out, enthusiastic participants, and the development of both useful and entertaining apps.

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Douglass Session Showcase

Our summer session at Douglass wraps our at our Showcase on 7/17 at Douglass Library, 1-2:30. The kids will be unveiling their apps (penguins, Star Wars, all sorts of fun)–don’t miss it!

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Douglass Update – May the Fourth Be with You

It was another excellent week with the kids as we talked about functions in terms of skills, and used functions to make a craft (a Jingle Bell), and then talked about functions in terms of songwriting (the chorus of a song is like a function) and used our jingle bells to sing Jingle Bells!

The group did a couple lessons on Code.org, and some of the kids had prior coding experience so they rocked out the lessons! A few kids needed a extra help, but since we had a smaller group we were able to do more one-on-one work.

The kids came up with some really cool stuff on App Lab! We’ve got one kid working on an app that has an image of Obi Wan from Star Wars that changes size when clicked and says “May the force be with you.” Although, perhaps today it should be “the fourth.”

 

 

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We promised you snowball throwing penguins…

And we deliver. Here’s a screenshot of one of the apps a kid is working on the App Authors summer session at Douglass Library.

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Douglass Library featured in News Gazette

Our partner site, Champaign’s Douglass Library was recently featured in the News Gazette. A “small but mighty” place indeed, Douglass is the site of the App Authors summer session, with kids working on a variety of apps, including one with a snow ball throwing penguin and another Q&A app with some “mind blowing” answers. Check back to see more of the students’ projects and get updates on the session!

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Find us at ALA!

Come check out more details of the App Authors project as well as other research happening at the iSchool at ALA. We’ll be at booth 4742 on Friday and Saturday from 9am to 5pm, and on Monday from 9am to 2pm. See you there!

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Latest press release

App Authors Project expands its reach, bringing coding to kids at new sites

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MEDIA CONTACT: Kate Quealy-Gainer (kqueal1@illinois.edu|217-265-0608)

Champaign, IL (May 10th, 2017)—The App Authors project has been underway for over a year now, bringing kids and technology together to create apps through a child-centered curriculum at Douglass Branch of the Champaign Public Library and Kenwood Elementary. The program, developed by the Center for Children’s Books and funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, is offered to kids regardless of experience level and gives them familiarity with problem solving and the opportunity to develop critical thinking skills. App Authors is now expanding its reach, working at sites in Maryland and Oregon as well as remaining in Champaign.

 

“We’re excited about expanding our reach this year,” said Deborah Stevenson, PI of the project and director of the Center for Children’s Books. “Our partnerships with the Frederick County Public Libraries in Maryland and the Springfield Public Library in Oregon will allow our curriculum to serve more youth, and input from these partners will help us refine and improve our curriculum for the future.”

Douglass Library will be again offering its summer session of the program, this year from June 5th to July 21st, with a showcase session on July 27th. CCB volunteers and research assistants will be on hand, helping participants move from predesign, through the construction of their app, and then to the revision process over program’s durations. The curriculum focuses on the play aspect of building apps, using the kids’ own ideas (i.e. a jumping horse, a school day, a nail salon, etc.) as a springboard for their creations and then teaching the students the technical skills to turn their visions into successful apps.

“The process of creation and revision are as much, if not more, important than the final product. Our goal is to communicate to the kids that coding is not necessarily about the finished app. We try to emphasize the notion that the creative process is not a straight line but one that includes visits back to the drawing board and lots of modifications,” says Lauren Gray, the research assistant who has led the curriculum development and on-site sessions this year.

This is the second phase of the CCB’s Closing the App Gap three-year project, which addresses the app gap, the income-related disparity in young people’s access to handheld technology. The project will develop curricula for app-building in school and public libraries and will see the program repeated at the above mentioned sites plus two to five new library venues, allowing us to reach hundreds of children directly and to refine a program that other libraries can adopt for their own use. The Institute of Museum and Library Services awarded the Center for Children’s Books $248,205 to support the project.

Comments are closed