Blending an Android development course with software engineering concepts
The tremendous popularity of mobile computing and Android in particular has attracted millions of developers who see opportunities for building their own start-ups. As a consequence Computer Science students express an increasing interest into the related technology of Java development for Android applications. Android projects are complex by nature and relatively large software products while their development calls for the application of established software engineering practices and tools. However, most software engineering courses focus on ‘conventional’ software development for desktop or web applications. In this paper we report on the design, implementation and assessment of a novel short course aiming at bridging the gap between software engineering and Android development. The goal is to demonstrate the need for applying software engineering principles on Android development as well as to emphasize that writing software for mobile devices should be regarded as an equally serious programming activity. The proposed course covers design principles, patterns, metrics, refactorings and collaborative software development. The course has been delivered to three groups of undergraduate and postgraduate students at two different institutes. The course has been evaluated: a) by performing a student satisfaction survey, b) through summative assessment of students’ performance, c) by investigating whether the proposed course modified the students’ career interests and d) by employing assessment by peers based on rubrics. The results indicate that such a short course is capable of increasing student’s interest on Android development as well as their awareness of the importance of software engineering concepts on mobile application software development.