Students with smartphones spend plenty of hours playing Angry Birds and checking Facebook, so it makes sense that they'd want to learn to create apps themselves. A new pilot program launched by computer manufacturer Lenovo and the National Academy Foundation will teach teens to design, program, and market their own Android apps.
The 12-week program will launch in five high schools this spring, Lenovo announced today. This fall, the program will expand to 70 schools nationwide.
"We want students to be more prepared for the future," says Michael Schmedlen, director of worldwide education for Lenovo. According to a survey by the company, 80 percent of teens are interested in learning how to create their own apps, and nearly a quarter believe that, in the future, app development skills will be the most marketable technology skill for employers. The app programming class "definitely grew out of the survey results," he says.
Students will take a prerequisite introductory programming course before they're admitted into the class. They'll then work in small groups and, using the standard Android developer toolkit, create and eventually release their own app on the Android market. They'll be free to make any type of app they want, whether it's a game, social networking tool, or education-focused app.
"It's completely up to them, but our suggestion is that it does some sort of social good," Schmedlen says. "We want to make sure they have a good experience doing something that is potentially marketable at the end of the course."
The course curriculum, materials, and lectures will be available online for teachers around the country who want to emulate the classes, Schmedlen says.