News: Hal Abelson Discusses MIT App Inventor

2019-05-17 - 2 minutes read

In a recent MIT News post, Abby Abazorius talked to Hal Abelson about MIT App Inventor, a dynamic tool that enables users, especially children, to improve their communities. App Inventor is a visual programming environment that allows users to build functional apps, with simple apps possible in under half an hour even for new users. With this tool, the App Inventor team hopes to democratize software development. As of the writing of the MIT News article, App Inventor has more than one million active users a month from 195 countries.

In response to a question about where he got the idea for App Inventor, Abelson said that “It’s crucial that we teach children how they can use technology to become informed and empowered citizens.” Abelson “got the idea for App Inventor when I started thinking about how kids really weren’t using desktop computers anymore, and the real empowerment opportunities in the realm of computer science and technology nowadays are with smartphones.”

In the article, Abelson shares details of a few of his favorite apps created by App Inventor users, including:

  • An app made by young women in Dharavi that reduces conflict at water distribution sites
  • An app created by high school girls in Moldova that helps find safe sources of drinking water
  • An app made by junior high schoolers to prevent bullying

Abelson also makes note of a current initiative of the App Inventor team, which is to “get more involved with kids in the local area.” An example of this is their recent participation in a Cambridge Public Schools event called “Freshman Technology Experience”. “We have to think about how could kids be empowered around this emerging area of technology and how kids could help shape these new technologies” states Abelson.

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