Project-Based Learning

During this course on developing apps, I’m learning more than app development. I’m discovering what makes learning more interesting for me. While my findings may not work for everyone, I find it interesting that my findings confirm some of the most recent trends in education.

Two weeks ago I found I was more motivated to dig deeper and challenge myself when the app I created was related to a topic I’m interested in–math education. It was easy enough to make a connection from the prescribed project and Number Bug. By personalizing the assignment, I became invested in developing an app I could be proud of.

Last week I was disengaged because the assigned app required a “prescription” and the app wasn’t something I found interesting. Even though I choose a topic I found interesting, Natural Wonders of the World, I couldn’t find an engagement point. As a teacher using project-based learning, I would provide one-on-one guidance for my students. Knowing the options available in App Inventor, I would use leading questions to help my students discover an engagement point that would turn on interest and motivation. After my experiences, I know that this is an element that will make all the difference to a student’s learning.

An example of container for geocaching game, C...

An example of container for geocaching game, Czech Republic. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week, I was able to find that engagement point for myself. I have always been interested in geocaching and know that there are many geocache sites in my area. I searched the web and discovered a Cape Cod Towns geocache list–a list of 14 towns and the location of a geocache in each town. Using Google maps, I could put in the latitude and longitude for each location and write a clue for my app users to attempt to follow. For users who find my clues too cryptic or don’t have luck following them, the app will provide directions from their current location.

I had a similar experience as two weeks ago in that I dug in, searched the web, asked questions, and solve problems I wouldn’t have had if I had stuck with the basic assignment. I pushed myself to combine things I had learned in previous weeks. In addition to learning more, I have more pride in my work when I push myself.

If you’d like to take up the Cape Cod Towns geocache hunt, download my app using the QR Code below. Have fun! Let me know about your adventure and if the clues were helpful.




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Following a Recipe

There’s nothing like trying to follow a recipe that calls for ingredients that are no longer available. My experience with this week’s app was a little like that. The app involves using Google Maps to create a virtual tour. My app tours some of the natural wonders of the world. Very little of this app is controlled by me. The text instructed me to use a specific code, I did and, viola!

I wanted to customize it more beyond the look and changing the locations for the tour, but the options for customization either didn’t work or were no longer available. For example, I wanted to provide a street-view image of the Grand Canyon. When I followed the directions, I found that my tablet would not open up the image. I just got a black screen. I am sure Google Maps has been updated since the text was written and my tablet has it’s own way of dealing with Google Maps, so the code no longer functions as described.

When I first experienced this I thought, no problem, I’ll just take the text’s suggestion and go to to learn more about Google Map protocols. website doesn't existAs you can see, I struck out there, too.

I’m sure I could do some more searching on the web to find out more about how to get Google Maps to show what I want to show, but I am not really interested in using Google Maps. I’ve done enough to satisfy the requirements of this app. I’ll do the search and discovery when I find a need for Google Maps. By that time, I’m willing to bet the coding requirements will have changed…again.

If you are interested is seeing a birds-eye view of some of the natural wonders of the world, download my app using this QR Code. Depending on the version of Google Maps on your device, you may be able to choose Streetview and explore the areas.

QR Code

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