Mobile Devices

February 25th, 2011 – 3:05 pm
Tagged as: PGCHE,Work

Lecturer: Zayd Junglee
Module: MU120
Observers: Nina Reeves, Mike Brooks and Mark Loon
Date: 24/02/2011
Time: 10:15 – 13:15

Topic: Mobile Devices (presentation link)

The topic of mobile devices has been one to develop greatly, especially in the last couple of years. In particular, the inclusion of application development has been made easier for the user, by using software packages such as Adobe Flash Professional CS5.

The focus of the session carried out on Thursday 24th February 2011, was to give the students an insight into the advancements of technology and how Flash CS5 (which the students are now familiar with), is a tool which they could also use to develop mobile applications.

This area of teaching was new to both the Multimedia Web Design course and to the students – so firstly – I felt privelaged to be the first to deliver the most up-to-date advancements of this topic! However, I had to ensure the processes about to be shown, were all correct! Additionally, I had to ensure the testing and compatibility these processes were possible in the computer labs – and mind you, those computers are not the best of machines to keep up with the latest tech! Thankfully, it was!

Before delivering the lecture, the more I researched / investigated into the topic, the more I considered this lecture as a  “cutting-edge”  topic which students would hopefully be interested in. It was important to consider how to engage the students with the topic, so by giving them a brief history at the start of the session, I set the scene by introducing the development of Flash and mobile devices.

The plan of the session was to spend approximately 35 minutes going through the theory using  a PowerPoint presentation, followed by 60 minutes of demoing how to create an application from scratch, export it for Android OS and uploading it to the Android Marketplace.

This process actually resulted in a 2 hours and 50 minute session!

On one hand, the content of the lecture gave a very high and detailed impression on how a student should approach and complete a task assigned to them, i.e. the module assignment. On the other hand, it was a risk in trying to retain their attention. In spending a long time trying to figure out issues that may arise, meant time was ticking and the students may become restless. Sitting down and listening to the lecturer for 2+ hours is definitely situation which should be broken up in some way.

I believe the first part of the session delivered to the students, gave them the background knowledge and enlightened their mood as to what one could do with Flash CS5 and mobile devices. However, to give the session more of an interactive feel (knowing that they would be sitting down for quite a while!), the session could involved giving their opinions on  post-it-notes, followed by reviewing what they have written down. This would most likely increase their participation / responses, rather than verbally responding to questions that I ask the class – something which does not seem to happen often (i.e. no verbal responses to the questions!).

The biggest challenge was to create a mobile application “on-the-fly” in front of the students. The aim of the practical element of THIS particular lecture was to demonstrate how to build an application from scratch, whether it be for a mobile device or for a desktop machine. It should be made clear, that alternative structures to sessions have meant students listen to theory, then attempt a practical exercise.

However, my intention for this session, was to put my feet in the student’s shoes and help them realise that the tasks the lecturers set them or ideas which they want to achieve, are difficult. Most importantly, they require some clear thinking. And no doubt – this takes time!

The application chosen to build was a “matching pairs” game (see below). It was interesting to see how engaged the students were with the process of building the application. Their ideas came flourishing in with concepts that would give the game a much more interactive feel to it. But, for the students – what was important to make them realise, was these ideas all build up on the foundations. It is those foundations which need to be built first before figuring out how to additional extras of the final product.

So by noting down the ideas, I emphasised how before doing any of them, we had to consider the foundations – that being, how to get the computer to understand that a matching pair has been selected! No doubt, this process resulted in opening up their minds a little about how to approach a task. There were many moments where issues arose in attempting to create the application’s logic.

Logic was an important term to get across to the students. To do this, I attempted to contextualise the process of logic by creating this application in front of them.

The application involved a variety of steps, including planning, storyboarding, asset building, logic construction (programming) and testing. Whilst these processes could be seen as an iterative approach to design / achieving the task – the more errors that were encountered  in front of the students, the more the students began to realise this iteration process of re-capping on what has just been done. And it was a process that required patience!

The interaction of the class became more apparent when the issues arose. Approximately 20% of the class contributed  in trying  resolve the problems encountered (many of them were the same students giving suggestions). However, their input seem to raise the interest of those who seemed “lost.”

Nevertheless, the program eventually developed into a functional prototype (1hour 20minutes later!). Upon completion, the reaction of the students seem to imply a “sigh of relief” from two points of view. The first being it had taken at least 1hour 10minutes to complete. Secondly, the task had actually been achieved – achieved not only by me creating it at the computer, but by all the students input. Their reaction felt like a breath of satisfaction.

What seem to make the topic more appealing to the class – was being able to demonstrate the live delivery of the application straight from Flash CS5 to a mobile device (Samsung Galaxy Tab – courtesy of Mike Brooks). This gave the feeling of what had just been constructed in Flash CS5 was now a live application on a mobile device. This was also demonstrated live in the session, using a Visualiser – a tool that projects the image of a camera onto a projector screen.

Again – another “Ooo! Ahh! Eee” *that was cool* reaction emerged!

The lecture was also filmed for reviewing and reflection at a later stage. Feedback has also been given / written by Mark and Nina and attached at the end of this post. The video will also be available for students to review / stream online. The video will help to demonstrate the timings of the session and how these could have been managed better. And finally it will also help to explain specific terminology covered at particular intervals – and how the students reacted to these explanations.

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