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7/12/2013
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Loyola Students Code For Campus App Store

Mobile apps contest helps stock a university apps store, while providing "perspective on what computer science is like outside of the classroom."

Sponsors for each of the proposed projects gave presentations for their ideas, and the student teams chose their favorites. The chosen sponsors then played the role of customer. Following a more detailed interview with their new customers, the student teams were required to present a high-level design to the contest advisers, then further elaborate it into a detailed plan. The IT department also put them through a project management workshop. Each team created a charter, a requirements document, and a wireframe diagram to guide the development process.

"By the end of the Fall semester, before they left for Christmas, we met with each of them, and they walked us through their design," Finn said. The advisers "made them think hard" about whether there was anything they should change before they started coding, Finn said. "We set them up for success as best we possibly could."

The completed apps were then introduced to the Loyola campus community, which was asked to pick the winner. This crowdsourced process asked the community to evaluate the apps according to specific criteria, rather than just picking their favorites.

Finn said she is also working with Air Watch on fielding a public version of the app store, partly because CCSJ services are not limited to the university and the app ought to be available to the citizens of Baltimore. "We're planning to get the mobile app into the community over the next year," she said.

Only two of the three teams wound up completing an app. The one that fizzled was more "thrown together" from individual volunteers, whereas the ones who completed their work started with a core group of students who already knew each other, Finn said. On the other hand, the second team that finished produced something useful -- an app that monitors the usage of computers in the computer lab and lets you know when one is free. In fact, Finn said she has received inquiries from other universities who are interested in using it, giving the team the potential of starting a money-making venture.


Loyola's iGoForth apps contest video

Follow David F. Carr at @davidfcarr or Google+, along with @IWKEducation.

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