University Mobile Development Club

PierceBogganPierceBoggan USForum Administrator, Xamarin Team, Developer Group Leader Xamurai

Hi all,

We all know that computer science education is broken. Bad. One could go four years and walk away with a degree only knowing how to write some subpar console-based programs that were never more than a few hundred lines of code. Worse, students think software is only limited to those crappy programs we used to write back at university, and are exposed when they enter the workforce. I think that mobile development can help us bridge the gap. Students can be introduced to general concepts like the software process, design, styles, development methodologies, and language exposure as well as general topics like web services, working with data, building user interfaces, responsive design, and code-sharing techniques all while building something fun and tangible they can show their friends.

I'm planning on building something like this for my university (Auburn University). I'm in the preliminary stages of getting everything setup for the fall, and I wanted some general feedback from both the student and non-student populations on the club, its aims, and how it plans to get there.

Fall

  • Spend the first few weeks with an introduction to mobile (with no focus on any one platform)
  • Spend the first 1/2 of the semester on iOS. The actual meetings will mostly provide an entry-point and a good foundation for learning about a specific topic. Nothing too in-depth. We will leave that up to their exploration (but provide the resources if they want to)
  • Spend the second 1/2 of the semester on Android. Same with the iOS meetings. Nothing too complex, keep it simple and provide a solid base for learning more.
  • Have some speakers come and talk about anything from design to mobile to software design

Spring:

  • Break up into groups, form a business entity, and build a product from scratch to completion
  • Have brief meetings highlighting key points of marketing, business administration, entrepreneurship, and other facets of running a start-up
  • Have teams give bi-monthly updates as to their progress and a final presentation when they have their completed product, along with all their supporting resources like a website

The Spring would be great for breaking developers out of their "shell" and getting them doing some simple business, management, and teamwork activities, as well as seeing a REAL product built from the planning stages to completion. I imagine that this would only make them much more marketable to employers, allow them to show off their product to their friends, and maybe even create something that would give them a job.

Certainly I've just outlined a very idealistic approach, so hopefully your feedback can help someone who has never run a usergroup, a class, or anything of the likes figure out what to do. As students, what would you want in this club? As employers, what kind of traits are you looking for in a software engineer coming out of university? As an event leader, how do you organize these groups and grow the organization? Any other (constructive) feedback you have is highly valuable!

If you are a student, and you don't go to Auburn, feel free to shoot me an email ([email protected]) if this sounds like something you want to do at your university. Even if you don't want to start a club, I'd be more than willing to help you get your feet under you if you are just starting out in the mobile (or even software) world.

Thanks,
Pierce Boggan

Posts

  • CheesebaronCheesebaron DKInsider, University mod

    I am a student and have been for quite a while now, so I am pretty familiar in a student habitat and know how students behave, what they think etc etc.

    I have a couple of concerns about your program.

    • Who are you targeting, beginners?

      • If so make sure to prepare something for people with high ambitions and quick learners
    • Why start group work so late? In my experience people are more committed working in groups. They have someone to they have to be responsible to, motivating them a bit more to work a bit harder.

    • Developers like to get their hands dirty very quickly, they don't just want to sit there and see other people talk about stuff, they want to mess with the code themselves.

    That's it for now, will let you know if I have other concerns, but generally it seems like a nice initiative.

  • PierceBogganPierceBoggan USForum Administrator, Xamarin Team, Developer Group Leader Xamurai

    We are targeting beginners. Our CS department lags behind pretty bad in terms of mobile and newer technologies, so nobody has been exposed to it at all. I'm planning on having some sort of fast-track as well, though I really need to look into it more. The group work suggestion is a really good one that I hadn't really thought through, and I will most definitely implement it.

    Thanks for the feedback!

    Another thing that came up was figuring out exactly how often and how long to do the sessions. I'm thinking that the sessions will provide a dive-in point for you to start your journey, but not be very detailed. That way, a foundation for further learning is there and they don't have to listen to me talk for very long.

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