Why AppCraft?


I have always been a huge fan of SCRATCH and the work of Mitch Resnick and his colleagues at the M.I.T. Media Lab. It allows students to practice and develop critical thinking, problem solving, and computational thinking skills while creating, imagining, and playing. While using Scratch with students in both elementary and middle school, we have watched students learn using the Creativity Cycle (described by Mitch Resnick in his "All I Really Need to Know" article)

With minimal instruction introducing them to the basic tools, students have been able to drag and drop graphical representations of programming code to create digital animations, computer games, and other playful digital inventions. They learn how to learn using inquiry in a constructivist learning environment. They explore, experiment, deconstruct and analyze the projects of others to build or remix their own creations. They ask questions “Why and How does this work?” They imagine, invent, and innovate.

As iPods and iPads have entered our learning environment, I have been seeking ways to use these tools with students to create the same type of learning environment that Scratch made possible. Last year, Dr. Ruben Pundetera tipped me off to an APP that had elements similar to Scratch – graphical representation of programming code that could be snapped together to create animations, games, and other interactive digital projects. It is called AppCraft, by BeyondApp Co., Ltd

One of the drawbacks of AppCraft is that there are few tutorials to get you started. There is currently no “community of users” posting tutorials and projects for students to deconstruct. Part of the problem is that there is no easy way for projects to be shared, analyzed, deconstructed, and remixed.

However, the advantage, that the App is available on mobile devices like the iPod or iPad, means that you can play and create anywhere and anytime you have your device with you. Imagine kids “creating” while on the bus, or hanging out with some time to spare. Even in schools where 1:1 computing is not a reality yet, there are hundreds of students with iPods in their pockets or backpacks. Tools like Appcraft gives them a new type of learning available to them whenever they have access to their i-device.

Creating projects with APPSCRAFT is as addictive as playing games and gives students an opportunity to practice the types of learning that are high on Bloom’s Taxonomy. It is filled with the type of STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) learning that we want to be part of our students’ learning environment. There are hundreds of ways to use mathematics ( X Y coordinates, variables, computation, Algebra, Geometry, etc). The physics engines allow students to experiment with gravity, velocity, friction and play with science. Using Appcaft promotes engineering thought and gives students fun and intrinsically motivating ways to experience the design cycle.

So why not work together to chip away at barriers of using Appcraft to promote powerful learning. Let’s post our tutorials with the tag APPCRAFT. And let’s figure out a way to share our projects, so others can deconstruct them and learn from them. Currently we can start with some Screenshots and videos of our interactive projects. Let’s build a community and from that community, I’m sure that we can figure out new ways to share and learn (including how to share our apps).

I thought I’d start by posting tutorials that I created on my Christmas Holiday here. Feel free to add your own tutorials, game play videos, screenshots, and other tips. Let’s learn together.