J-Students Build Apps in New Media Class

While many of us use apps for social media, shopping, playing games and getting information on the go, few of us understand what it takes to design and build them. As of the first week of the semester, students in the Journalism Department’s New and Emerging Media class were immersed in mobile applications – trends, economic and cultural impacts – and then literally built apps in our lab.

Matthew David, vice president of sales and evangelism for TheAppBuilder, led the mobile app session with expertise and humor. Last spring, the web developer and technology author taught Online Publishing as an adjunct instructor for the department.

“We are moving rapidly into a mobile world,” David said, which he described as a “mobile revolution.”

Three major forces shaping the technology and communication landscape are social media, cloud computing and mobile platforms such as smartphones and tablets, David said. Citing Gartner and other sources, he noted how mobile applications across platforms are advancing with implications for businesses, organizations, advertisers and others.

Students were challenged to develop an idea for their apps. Then David walked them through development via TheAppBuilder, an online program to build an app without coding. Students designed app layout and content, and learned how to submit them for publishing to app stores like iTunes and Android Marketplace. Apps ran a range of topics from student organizations, to “all about fonts,” a locator for local camping and “what to wear.”

The New and Emerging Media class, and its counterpart, Applications in New and Emerging Media, provide journalism and business students with theoretical and practical knowledge that keeps up with the latest trends. Many of our students are in the fast-growing demographic for smartphone use, with 53% of 18-24 year olds and 64% of 25-34 year olds owning smart phones, according to Nielsen. And, students in the class enjoyed the opportunity:

Trends for mobile usage, and the apps that enhance user experiences, will continue to escalate in 2012.

“In designing apps, we have to consider how people will use them in daily life,” David said. “Make them simple and powerful.”


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