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U of I News Feature

Our work at the Douglass and Kenwood libraries is featured by the U of I News Bureau, “App Authors gives elementary students programing experience.”

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App Authors press release

Students Create Apps in After School Program through the App Authors Project

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

Champaign, IL (January 18th, 2017)—After the success of the 2016 summer program of App Authors: Closing the App Gap II at the Douglass Branch of the Champaign Public Library, the Center for Children’s Books returns to Kenwood Elementary, where the App Authors curriculum will be offered through the school’s after school Tech Time program. App Authors gives students a chance to explore, play, and eventually create their own apps through a child-centered curriculum that engages participants regardless of experience level and gives kids familiarity with problem solving and the opportunity to develop critical thinking skills.

The seven week program began Wednesday, January 25th, and CCB volunteers and research assistants will be helping Kenwood students, mostly fourth graders, 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.

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, working with Kenwood Elementary through the Champaign School Unit #4 District through the school year and with the Douglass Branch for summer programing, and eventually expanding to include the Frederick County Public Libraries in Frederick, MD and the Springfield Public Library in Springfield, OR, in this coming year. 2018 will see the program repeated at those 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, all at the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 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.

Contact Kate Quealy-Gainer at kqueal1@illinois.edu or 217-265-0608 for further information about App Authors.

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We’re on Social Media

We’re on social media! You can find updates and info about current programs through Twitter and Facebook. Check out our tutorials on YouTube.

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Spring semester at Kenwood

App Authors will start a seven week program at Kenwood Elementary School beginning in the spring semester. We’ll be working with Kenwood’s school librarian and media specialist Miriam Larson during the after school Tech Time hours; the program is geared for fifth graders but younger students are welcome. We’re excited to be part of Kenwood’s technology vision to create immersive technology environments where students will transcend simple usership to become digital producers.

This session will be focusing on student collaboration–kids will be working together throughout the design and evaluation steps. Lauren Gray, CCB graduate assistant, will be leading the program, walking student and volunteers through the seven steps of predesign, brainstorming, coding, feedback, redesign, and sharing. We’ll also be instructing kids on giving helpful, specific feedback and honing their critique skills.

Our volunteers will be serving as research and note takers as well as classroom aides. If you’re wanting to volunteer, please contact the CCB staff at ccb@illinios.edu.

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Douglass Library

Our summer App Authors project was a great success at Douglass Branch Library in Champaign! During the six week, free summer program, the kids were guided through a six step process: identifying a problem, brainstorming a solution, designing an app, testing and evaluating the app, and heading back to the drawing board to make any tweaks or redesigns.

The kids were engaged and active throughout the program, brainstorming with friends and family and exploring current apps on iPads. The design process took them all the way from developing a pen and paper prototype, to learning coding and debugging,  to creating and sharing their apps with each other.

Big thanks to Illinois doctoral student DeAnza Williams, who led the program, Lauren Gray, research assistant, and all our volunteers!

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News Gazette Feature

Our App Authors pilot program at Champaign Library’s Douglass branch is featured in the News Gazette this week! Be sure to check it out to see what the kids are creating and details on the project.

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Welcome!

App Authors Project Creates Digital Opportunities for Kids in Libraries
Champaign, IL (June 15, 2016)—The Center for Children’s Books moves to the summer phase of its App Authors project with a free six-week program, held at the Douglass Branch Library in Champaign, designed to teach young people to create apps. The program gives children a chance to explore, play, and eventually create their own apps. It engages participants regardless of experience level, giving them valuable context, familiarity with problem solving, and the opportunity to develop critical thinking skills—and to have a lot of fun.

App Authors: Closing the App Gap II is a three-year project to develop curricula for app-building in school and public libraries. The pilot program was pioneered this spring in partnership with Champaign’s Unit 4 Schools at Kenwood Elementary School, and next year it will be repeated there and at the Douglass Branch as well as expanding to include the Frederick County Public Libraries in Frederick, MD and the Springfield Public Library in Springfield, OR. The third year will see the program repeated at those 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.

This is the second phase of the CCB’s Closing the App Gap work, which addresses the app gap, the income-related disparity in young people’s access to handheld technology. It’s long documented that income disparity affects kids’ reading levels, and the twenty-first century has resulted in the digital divide, the difference in access to technology between children in low-income families and those in higher-income families. Access to technology plays a considerable role in determining career paths available to children, particularly paths in STEM fields, so it’s a divide that needs breaching; as places of access to technology and empowerment for youth, libraries can help close the gap.

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, all at the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The Center for Children’s Books is a research center devoted to the study of youth, literature, and media. To learn more, visit the CCB website at http://ccb.ischool.illinois.edu.

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