teaching machines

CS 491 Lecture 1: AppInventor

August 10, 2012 by . Filed under cs491 mobile, fall 2012, lectures.


Welcome to CS 491, Mobile Software Development. In this class, we’re going write software for mobile devices, which have changed a bit.

We’ll be focusing on Android. Without getting political, let me explain why:

I cut my teeth on Apple. I miss the Apple, Inc., of my youth.

What are we going to cover in the course?

This course is strange

This class is a big experiment and you are all a bunch of guinea pigs.

Lecture format

Let’s talk about some things:

  1. What do you like about lecture-based classes?
  2. What do you not like about lecture-based classes?

I have certain feelings about lecture-based classes:

You’ll notice we’re in a lab. This semester I’m going to try and “flip” our classroom. You can expect the following in each of our meetings:


A second strange thing about this class is the grading. My 330 class last spring said it would be okay to foist this new approach to grading on you.

The deal is laid out in the syllabus. My motivation for trying out something new comes from seeing the disgusting cross section of your homework that I get when a deadline cuts through.

Semester project

Instead of a final exam, we are going to have a group-based final project, which you will present during the final exam period. The details are still being hashed out, but it’s probable that your project will center around Sphero.

Sphero from Sphero on Vimeo.

The Spheros we use are on loan. Please don’t do this to them:

Sphero – The Shotgun Proof Robot from Sphero on Vimeo.

Your turn

Check out AppInventor. Your task is to take 30 minutes and produce something interesting with your randomly-assigned partner. A few of you may be selected to demo your project toward the end of class.



Mobile freed us nerds.
We emerged from our basements.
Caves are much darker.