Teaching app development to business students

who doesn’t like chalk?

We’re currently delivering an app development course to business and marketing students in D.I.T. Aungier St, in Dublin. The college asked us last year if we could help bring some industry tech knowledge to their students and the course was our answer; we ran it last year for the first time. The course culminated in a demo day with 18 amazing apps developed between 40 students individually and in teams. It was such a success we recently kicked off the second iteration — and are about to run the course internally in AIB for 60 business staff.

The course teaches iOS and Android app development but isn’t a coding bootcamp; it’s intended to give the students (and soon, staff) an insight into developing a product via basic coding and app design principles. It’s also a competition — with cash and other prizes on offer, to help maintain motivation when faced with obstacles like 143 errors in Android Studio when they leave out a semicolon.

The prizes may not actually be needed as we’ve seen over the two runs of the course extraordinary passion from the students. Some are interested in learning a new skill while others have a business idea that they really want to get off the ground; two of last year’s winners have since founded startups — Kickabout and Appytoy.

Likewise for our staff iteration, we were massively over subscribed, with encouraging levels of excitement and passion from all the applicants.

Why are we doing it?

We believe fostering creativity and innovation is important for the wider economy and for people themselves. Teaching people with no technical knowledge, but with a thirst for education and a desire to create, is rewarding for both them and ourselves. It opens up potential new career opportunities and avenues for creative expression. Making your first app — seeing it working on your or your friends’ phones, can be a great experience.

For us, bringing things back to basics has been oddly challenging and refreshing, making us rethink some of our core concepts on app design and development. It has given us the opportunity to do so; the chance to step back from the product life-cycles and ideation processes that consume most of our days and spend some time thinking about the fundamentals. When you have to fill a 2 hour lecture with hopefully insightful material it makes you really think about and question what you already know and do. Do we really know the best way to onboard a Customer onto an app? Do we know what students actually think of sharing data?

It’s also fun — we love lecturing, it brings us back to our own college days and lets us interact at a natural level with a demographic that we’re slightly removed from (we’re not as young as we like to think we are!). We get the students to pitch their app ideas to the entire class and encourage them to share and help each other, hoping to show that creation is rarely a one person process.

We’ll post again at the end of both courses with more on the undoubtedly awesome apps created. Any comments or thoughts, just let us know below. Andy.