CS 345 Mobile App Development - Gegg-Harrison Anderson

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About This Article

This article describes how mobile computing, specifically tablets, was piloted in CS 345 - Mobile App Development to transform teaching and learning.

Intended Audience

WSU instructors interested in past faculty experience with tablet devices in the classroom.

Fall 2012 iPad Pilot

Both sections of CS 345 are included in the fall 2012 iPad pilot project. All students have access to an iPad2 for the duration of the semester to use for application development and testing purposes. The procedure for accessing iPads differs for students in the Winona section (Gegg-Harrison) versus the Rochester section (Anderson). Details are included in the individual instructors' course articles linked below.

How the iPads are Used in CS 345

Because of the nature of the class, Professors Gegg-Harrison and Anderson use the iPads differently than do the instructors from the other classes in the Pilot. A significant step in the mobile application development is testing. This testing assures quality of the application and complete addressing of the needs of the user. In previous terms, CS 345 students tested their mobile applications on their laptops. This worked fairly well, but there were some shortcomings. Testing a mobile application in the laptop works well, but there is no way to successfully simulate the feel of the touchscreen on the laptop. The simulator can mimic accelerometers (the devices inside the iPad that detect movement or iPad tilt), but only in limited ways. Networking an application through the simulator is different than networking through the actual mobile device. All of these shortcomings of the simulator are overcome by adding iPads to the class. Additionally, because the application is live on the iPad, the students have the ability to receive the certificates and provisional profiles needed to load their applications into the Apple App Store for possible sale. Professors Gegg-Harrison and Anderson used the iPads to accomplish several key objectives of the course that would be difficult or impossible utilizing only traditional educational methods. The iPads and their associated applications enabled the professors to:

  • Test applications in an environment closer to real life. Being able to test the application using the real touch screen, networking, and accelerometers makes for better quality, usability, and functionality.
  • Expand knowledge. Students are exposed to new areas of mobile application development. Including iPads in the development process allows for packaging of applications for distribution and applying/interfacing with the App Store.
  • Increase student engagement. By publishing materials through LectureTools, students have access to the materials from their iPads and the LectureTools application. Students can preview the materials, add their own notes to the slides, and store their annotated materials for future review.

Outcomes

Changes in the classroom

  • Increased engagement. There was a noticeable increase in engagement resulting from the introduction of the iPad. Being able to see and feel their creations on the devices and submit them to the App Store were important to the students.
  • Current textbook materials. Because the course textbook was created by the instructors, it included all materials pertinent to the course and nothing extra. Additionally, as new materials were needed, new editions of the text could be distributed to the class. This is very important in a course like this one as the subject matter evolves very quickly.
  • Expand knowledge. Using the tablet allowed the students to take the implementation of mobile applications further than sections could in the past. For the first time, students in Mobile Application Development were able to finish the entire application-authoring process and ready their apps for distribution through iTunes.

Recommendations

  • Professors Gegg-Harrison and Anderson applied far an extension of the pilot project into the Spring 2013 term. They are also looking into a capstone course for mobile application development utilizing iPads to design and author applications in response to client need.

iPad Applications Employed in CS 345

Professors Gegg-Harrison and Anderson used the following applications in their CS 345 iPad pilot:

  • Keynote

Descriptions, pricing, and links to iTunes for each of these applications is available on the iPad Pilot Applications page.

iBooks Author is used by the professors. This application, which runs on the Mac instead of the iPad, is used to author the textbook for the course. Versions of the text are made available for free to the students by posting it in a local version of iTunes for download.

Course Overall

Apple Xcode

All students in CS 345 are required to use Apple Xcode to develop mobile applications. This software is available for the Mac operating system only. Currently, it cannot be installed on a Windows machine.

What If I Don't Have a Mac?

  • Option 1: Access Xcode on Mac workstations in campus computer labs during open lab hours.
  • Option 2: Rent a Macbook Pro laptop from WSU on a daily or weekly basis. You can install Xcode on that laptop while it is in your possession.
  • Option 3: Lease a MacBook Pro laptop from WSU for a full semester. Students who already lease a PC can switch to a Mac at no cost.
  • Option 4: Purchase a Mac that meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements.

Useful Links

For additional, course-specific details, please see the articles below.

By Instructor

More Information

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