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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Forbes discovers mobile phone classes

As a follow up to my earlier post on teaching mobile phone programming, this evening Forbes reported on programming classes. Reporter Elizabeth Woyke talked to professors at MIT, Stanford (iPhone), Columbia (iPhone and Android), as well as a Google evangelist.

The overlap between her story and our visit was the course taught by Prof. Hal Abelson and Andrew Yu, MIT's head of mobile services (who we did not meet). Woyke reported:
Abelson and Yu view themselves as training the next generation of mobile entrepreneurs. The course is structured around weekly critiques to teach students project management and presentation skills. Adult mentors who work in the mobile industry provide guidance in and out of class. "There's a lot of asking, 'Why will people use this?'" Abelson says. "We tell the mentors to treat them like real start-ups."
As more mobile development courses pop up, they will naturally become more specialized, Abelson says. He advises future classes to embrace themes, such as creating applications for the developing world, to keep things challenging. "Making something for a phone will be old news. There has to be some other spin," he says.
As with my own first-hand observations, these accounts suggest a win-win proposition. Students get credit for taking a class on programming, but by developing applications in a new and emerging industry segment — as with PCs in the 80s or the web in the 90s — they develop cutting edge skills that may be immediate relevant in a commercial (or entrepreneurial) context.

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