Introducing Creighton University
We like to round up different perspectives of various Application Craft users and were pleased when Dr. Cindy Corritore, a Professor of IT in the College of Business at Creighton University, offered her insights on what it has been like to teach with Application Craft.
Teaching mobile app development with Application Craft
I have been teaching for about 25 years, and hold a Ph.D. in Computer Science (which I have also taught). My programming is rusty, and I was never a crack programmer. I am more interested in HCI (human-computer interaction, UX). I want to tell you a bit about how I used Application Craft (AC) in a new undergraduate course – with great success, I might add.
If you have ever tried to teach programming to business IT students you know the challenge I faced. While some IT students love to program, most do not. In fact, it appears that they have heard horrible things about programming since birth, and have to date successfully avoided it. I was tasked with developing a course that would teach them about programming. The goals for the course were not to develop programmers – but to teach students the language of the world of programming, the inherent difficulties with programming projects, and what it really took to put together something reasonable. I decided to use a hands-on approach, and to focus on apps. I thought students would be excited about developing apps – the cool factor. I searched for a long time for an appropriate IDE – and luckily found the perfect tool, Application Craft.
Application Craft was perfect for several reasons. First, it was an online IDE – so it was platform-independent, both for development and for final device deployment. Second, it was developed for teams – and a class fits that description perfectly. Third, it was a real-world tool. That meant you could do meaningful and significant projects with it, the students could put it on their resumes, they could take it with them into business when they graduated, and companies would be interested in it and the students’ work with it. AC could also be used at different levels. For students who wanted to develop very complex apps, AC was more than up to the task. However, it was also the perfect IDE for students who needed to work at a more basic level, yet produce something that ‘worked’. Finally, the creators of AC had developed an extensive set of tutorial videos, user manuals, and an active forum to bring myself as well as my students up to speed.
From my point of view, the best thing about AC was the ability to develop at a high level using widgets and properties as well as to interact directly with the code. This is the perfect learning environment as you can start high-level to build confidence, then dive into the code when students want to do more with their apps. It was also very easy for me to help them, as I could access their apps in our shared team account. Yet their work was not accessible by other students. I plan to use AC for this course in the future. I hope to add features to the course such as using databases and custom widgets as soon as I learn it. AC is a great product, one of a kind, and I see it as a professional, commercial tool that can also double in education. I can’t say enough good things about it, but am so happy that we were able to use it in the course.
In a nutshell, the students loved AC. They said it was the best part of the course. They took to it quickly and became very good at developing with it within a couple of weeks. This was true of students who did love to program, and of those who did not. It taught them to program just enough for me, let them experience the programs of development such as project management, deadlines, having ideas that then had to be implemented with code, and most of all, team work. One student, Mike Wieger, described it well in his blog.
Argy Bargy Event
The work of the students was so good that we decided to have a competition, with awards for the team built the ‘best’ apps. Our “2013 App Dev Argy-Bargy” was a huge success – it was attended by other students, folks from IT companies around the city, and the press. The top two teams won iPads and Google Nexus tablets, sponsored by businesses, including AC. It was an exciting event, with judges and audience voting via SMS. My favorite part? When a student said, in response to a question, that “we used an IDE called Application Craft, which is platform-independent, device-agnostic, had a great API, and allows for native implementation on devices." Huh – three months ago these students wouldn’t have known the difference between IDE and API – that is, IMHO.