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There Is an App for That--And if not, You Can Create One

It seems everywhere you look, there’s an app for that. Maps. Restaurant recommendations. Sharing photos and videos. Crushing candy.

Someone has to create all these apps. And many are asking, “Why can’t I do this?”

CS Lecturer Lawrence Angrave thinks you can, and he has developed a course to help demystify and clarify the process of creating apps on the Android platform. With his guidance, creating apps could be within the reach of just about anyone. Angrave will soon reach nearly 70,000 students through his massive open online course (MOOC) titled “Creative, Serious and Playful Science of Android Apps.”

Lawrence Angrave
Lawrence Angrave

This will be the world’s first MOOC on creating apps on the Android platform. As with other MOOC courses from the University of Illinois, this class is being offered through Coursera. The course begins December 2, 2013.

“I’m looking forward to this,” said Angrave. “It’s exciting to realize that people from around the world will all be taking the class.”

According to the course description, the course “is a novice-friendly and delightful introduction to computer science and programming Android-apps for smart-phones and tablets. No prior programming knowledge is necessary. In this course you'll have fun learning to create an app for modern Android devices such as the Nexus tablet.”

With the volume of the class population, Angrave sees in this a place for a great experiment. “The MOOC is computing and teaching at scale,” he said. “This could be the opportunity to have an Illini event at scale.”

Angrave said that in addition to simply taking the course, members of the CS @ ILLINOIS family could get more involved in this project as well. “With over seventy thousand people signed up for this course already, we’d look to our alumni base to help out. Even if they’ve never designed an Android app before, they have the background computer science down, and they’ve have the track record as CS students to know they can get the job done.”Coursera logo

Volunteers involved in Coursera courses are known as “Community TAs (CTAs),” and this provides one way for the Illini nation to get involved. These TAs can help students out by clarify and explaining concepts, assisting in forum discussions, and helping create course FAQs as the course progresses.

Jason Mock from Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning said, “We handle all the logistics of getting them into the course, communicating expectations, etc. We don’t ask for a certain amount of hours per week or anything—just whatever they feel they can provide, whenever they feel they can provide it.”