Developing courses to focus on smart phone app creation

By Ryan Felgenhauer

NIU will team up with Lextech Global Services to create new courses.

The courses will teach students how to write applications for several different smart phone platforms. The university offers two courses now, but the full program will be offered fall 2012.

The courses will cover application development for the three most popular smart phones – Android, iOS and the Windows phone.

“Those who want to follow the whole sequence will take two of the intro classes,” said Jim Henry, assistant chair for the Computer Science Department. “Then they can take advanced courses for those platforms.”

A smart phone application course sequence is something few universities offer.

“As far as I know, nobody else has a coherent set of courses like this,” Henry said.

Henry said having advanced courses in application development will prepare students for the reality of the industry.

The currently offered courses teach students introductory application concepts.

“We’re going through the basics: programming language, types of interfaces, data storage, how to use the phone’s sensors, things like that,” said computer science instructor Kurt McMahon, who will teach the iOS course.

The university offers the classes, but the certificate is going through the approval process and may not be available until next fall, said Chris McCord, dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.

“My understanding is…that there’s a real demand for these classes,” McCord said.

John Miller, senior computer science major, is taking one of the courses.

“Mobile development is definitely the big hot topic that employers are looking for,” Miller said.

Editor’s Note: Campus Editor Matt Liparota contributed to this article.