Building Better Apps

Semester:

Course Number: 
CSC 124
Room: 
Danforth Tech 108A
Date & Time: 
Long A: TR 8:00 - 9:50 am; Long B: TR 10:00 - 11:50 am

Instructor: Dr. Scott Heggen
Office: Danforth Tech 110 (CPO 2188)
Office Hours: Tues/Thurs 8:00AM - 10:00AM
Phone: (859) 985-3141
Email: scott_heggen@berea.edu

 

Course Description

 


Apps for mobile phones are written by people JUST LIKE YOU. Even if you claim to be "bad with computers," by the end of this course you will have written many amazing apps for mobile phones and tablets. During the semester, we will collaborate in developing mobile apps which explore social networks, games, and mapping. We will share our best apps via the Google Play store where millions can download and enjoy what we've built. Absolutely no prior experience is required for this course, and we will provide tablets and phones for students to use throughout the term. This course may be used to satisfy the Practical Reasoning requirement. 


Course Prerequisites

  • Math 012

Course Objectives

Explore the potential for meaning through mobile application design:

  • Given a problem, students can write a sequence of operations that might implement a computational solution to that problem.
  • Given a scenario, students can articulate the information needed to model that scenario, and possible ways to structure that information as data.
  • Given a mobile application, students can identify good and bad design choices, and provide alternative designs to poor designs.
  • In the context of AppInventor, students will be able to write or otherwise describe code from textual descriptions of algorithms or desired programmatic behavior.
  • When working with technology, students will demonstrate the ability to communicate concepts and ideas related to technology that they've created.
  • When working in teams, students will demonstrate the ability to communicate and collaborate with their colleagues.
  • Writing online, students will express themselves professionally with an awareness of who their intended audience is.
  • Writing online, students will employ appropriate practices for acknowledging sources.

Materials Online


Required Text and Online Materials


Technology Policies

Much of the work in this course will require use of the computer, so these policies are designed to help you better understand how to be effective in a technology-rich environment.

  • Laptop and Software: We will regularly make use of laptops during class, and you are expected to have them with you every day.
  • Unapproved Technology: We use our technology for work during class, not play. Keep your phones silenced, and out of sight. Keep your browser on relevant information, not social media. No excuses.
  • Communication: The course website is your primary source for information about the course; our Moodle site will be used for posting grades and assignment submission. Messages about the course will often be sent by email. Check your email often (often = daily at a minimum)! 
  • Backups: We will be using software that is not fully developed. There will be crashes. You will lose work at least once during this course. Expect it! All students are expected to back-up their work on a daily basis, which includes labs, assignments, and quizzes. The best way to do this is to store a copy of all work in a cloud service such as Dropbox. Storing multiple copies of something on your laptop is not a backup. I will not be sympathetic to lost work in any way, shape, or form.
  • Exceptions: Exceptions to any of these technology policies will be considered on an individual case-by-case basis but will only be granted under extreme circumstances.

Attendance Policy

Class lectures, discussions, and in-class work are considered to be a vital key to success in this course. It is the hope of the instructor that class sessions are both informative and useful. Therefore, attendance is expected at each class session unless a specific exception is made. If you are sick with flu-like symptoms, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. Therefore, please do not come to class if you show flu-like symptoms. Instead, e-mail me from your room and go to health services immediately. When you return to class, bring paperwork showing that you sought medical attention that day and your absence will be excused. Students who arrive late, leave early, or fail to fully participate during the class will be considered absent for that portion of the period, and such partial absences will accumulate.

The final grade may be lowered by one half of a letter grade for each unexcused absence beyond the third. Thus, it is the responsibility of the student to contact the instructor about each absence from class. This should be done via email, as soon as possible, and if at all possible before the absence occurs. Students who miss class are held responsible for all of the material covered, assigned, and collected during their absence. 


Assignments

You will be evaluated in this course on five different types of assignments: quizzes, in-class assignments, homework assignments, projects, and an exam.

Quizzes

Quizzes will occur regularly in the course, and are intended to ensure you have read the material for the days lecture. They are not intended to test deep learning; they are to ensure you are prepared for each class. To prepare yourself for each quiz, you should read and understand the assigned reading.

Teamwork Assignments

Computer Scientists do not work alone. They work in teams, and they must be able to work together in a productive manner. To foster this habit, you will almost always work in pairs in class. Teamwork assignments are intended to explore the content read in more detail, and begin forming a basic understanding of the topic.

Homework Assignments

Homework assignments are intended to build from the teamwork assignments. In homework assignments, you will be asked to apply the concept explored in class to a new, interesting, more challenging problem. 

Exams

This course has two exams; one around midterm, and one around two weeks prior to finals week. The exact dates will be announced on the course website and in class. 

Final Project

As this is a course on building better apps, you will be expected to create a mobile app as your final project. The project will be done in individually or in pairs. The project will focus on creating a prototype of a mobile application that is designed with the user in mind. A required public demonstration of this final project during the last week of classes will replace your "final exam". A final reflection will also be submitted by the date of the College’s scheduled Final Exam time.


Collaboration and Teamwork

When doing work that is collaborative in nature, it is essential that you cite your collaborators in all instances. Failure to do so could be construed as academic dishonesty.

I will make use of the institutional policies laid down regarding academic dishonesty. In the real world, plagiarism and claiming others' work as your own could result in you losing your job. Our goal is to support you in your learning, and copying the work of others (or inappropriately reusing work found on the Internet) never constitutes good learning. This includes borrowing images, music, and videos from the web which do not explicitly fall under a Creative Commons License. We will discuss this in more detail throughout the class. However, CITING YOUR WORK is always, always essential!


Grade Distribution

Final Project 25%
Exams (x2) 30%
Quizzes 10%
Assignments 20%
In-class Teamwork 15%

Grading Scale

The Berea College grading scale makes clear that:

  • An A represents excellent work,
  • B represents good work, and
  • C represents competent work.

Most work that any of us do is competent. I will communicate with you regularly about where you stand in the course, so that you can focus your efforts appropriately, however, you should always feel welcome to inquire about your grade.

  • An A is in the range of 91% to 100%
  • B is in the range of 81% to 90%
  • C is in the range of 71% to 80%
  • D is in the range of 61% to 70%
  • An F is a grade of 60% or lower.

plus may be earned through exceptional attendance, teamwork, professionalism and collegiality, and participation. A plus is completely at the discretion of the instructor.

Any questions regarding grades should never be directed at TAs, but instead always directed to the instructor of the course.


Class Atmosphere 

In class, we will discuss what we feel will make a good environment for learning. This section will reflect that discussion after it occurs.

 


Evening Lab / Support

The Computing and Digital Crafts Lab (Danforth 104) is open Sunday through Thursday from 7:00 to 9:00 PM (except on evenings of convocations). Several TAs will be able to answer questions about the content in the course during consultations in their Lab hours. You are strongly encouraged to make use of the help available in the Computing and Digital Crafts Lab, as well as in the instructor's office hours. Best results are obtained trying to solve problems before asking for help, and you should be prepared to show what you have already tried. Topics in this course build throughout the course, so you should be sure to do your best to keep up with the class, so as to not fall behind. No question to which you do not know the answer is "dumb" unless it goes unanswered because it remained unasked.


Statement Regarding Accessibility

Berea College values diversity and inclusion and seeks to create a climate of mutual respect and full participation. My goal is to create learning environments that are accessible, equitable, and inclusive. If you encounter barriers based on the impact of a disability or health condition, please let me and Disability & Accessibility Services (DAS, 111 Lincoln Hall, 859-985-3237, lisa.ladanyi@berea.edu)) know immediately so that we  can determine if there is a design adjustment that can be made to the course or if accommodations might be needed to overcome the barriers. Together we can explore all of your options and establish how to best coordinate accommodations for this course.


Statement Regarding Pregnant/Parenting Students

Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, pregnant and parenting students may be afforded certain accommodations regarding their educational experience. If you believe that pregnancy or pregnancy-related conditions are likely to impact your participation in this course, please contact Berea’s Title IX Coordinator, Katie Basham, to discuss appropriate accommodations.  She may be reached at Katherine_basham@berea.edu or 859.985.3606.