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Civic Impact

App-idextrous developer brings iOS and Android courses to TPL

Frank Tsonis is the Toronto Public Library's Innovator in Residence until July 31

From May 9 to July 31, Frank Tsonis will bring his unique skills to the Toronto Public Library as its newest Innovator in Residence. Tsonis, an interactive media developer and educator who has taught at York University and OCAD, is skilled in both iOS and Android platforms commonly used in mobile phones. In addition to a trio of lectures touching on user interface and user experience that will discuss popular apps like Instagram, Tsonis will teach beginners how to develop their own apps.

“The courses that I’m teaching are an introduction to programming, and people who have no knowledge of programming can gain the skills,” says Tsonis. His next classes cover the language of programming, and will build from basic to more advance. “You can start to develop a basic Apple app and Android app, from start to finish.” The courses, which are free, run over several half-days.

Tsonis says becoming the library’s Innovator in Residence was a natural extension of both his eight years of teaching experience and his work as a new media artist working in interactive installations. “I’ve noticed the library has been changing their education program, and recognizes the importance of digital literacy,” he says. In the past, the library has hosted courses, lecture, and events about 3D printing, robotics, and design. “Mobile apps are so prevalent and everyone uses them on a daily basis,” says Tsonis.

He opens his courses by introducing students to Processing, a free, open-source coding program. “If you write four or five lines of code, you can automatically see its power. It’s a great tool to overcome the daunting feeling of learning to code.” In July, Tsonis will instruct teens in the basics of programming as well. After his residency ends in June, Tsonis will continue teaching, now with new experience outside university and college classrooms. “It opens my eyes to how people come to the table and grasp the information, and helps me understand how people learn these topics. I’m also excited to what kind of apps people generate in my classes!”
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