Mobile App DevelopmentYesterday the Atlantica Centre for the Arts in Saint John, New Brunswick, issued a press release: “New ‘Virtual College’ tackles programmer and developer shortage“.

This new virtual college (called Atlantica@Home) was established by the Atlantica College, in Saint John. Their flagship virtual course is Mobile Application Development, and will be delivered entirely online, starting this September.

Coined ‘learning online’, students attend structured classes taught in real-time by real instructors – in a virtual classroom accessible from any computer with Internet access.

Being in the ICT industry, I was intrigued. There is absolutely a shortage of developers who specialize in mobile. Coders and interface designers I know in large urban centers are often booked months in advance, and I only see this trend growing. Not surprising considering that ‘apps’ have really only been mainstream for about 5 years…the required talent is highly specialized.

I contacted the Atlantica College today for more information about the course and to find out exactly what their students will learn. After all, mobile development isn’t a cookie-cutter skill. There are many different development platforms, and therefore, programming languages; as well as numerous user interfaces to consider AND a complex and varied development cycle.

The Mobile Application Development course was developed largely by Chris London. Chris was an Information Technology instructor at the New Brunswick Community College for a number of years and has a great deal of practical and hands-on experience in the IT Industry.

Mainly, I wanted to know what platforms a student of this course could be expected to develop on (from start to finish) after completing the course. Is it native-app focused, or would training on developing cross-platform (HTML5, Java) apps be included?

Chris informed me that graduates would have the skill-set to develop apps for any Android device or Windows Phone. Students will learn mobile web development, and the cross-platform languages of Java and HTML5.

Including iOS development (iPhone, iPad) would have required all students to have a Mac, a limitation they did not want to take on for this course. The College has plans to offer a separate course in the future that focuses on iOS specifically.

I was glad to hear that as well as learning specific programming languages, students will also learn important concepts about project management, testing, user interface design and requirements gathering.

Being a fan and advocate of cross platform mobile development, and seeing the incredible benefits of ‘develop once, deploy everywhere’ (with some minor accommodations made for different screen sizes), I’m glad to see that many relevant concepts have been included in the curriculum.

My recommendation? There are a number of HTML5 frameworks that enable developers to create web apps that look, feel and behave like native apps.  At least a familiarization with these should be included as part of any app development course.

I was given the heads up that the curriculum is still under development and you’ll be happy to know that all involved have their priorities set to delivering a course that will lead graduates to jobs.

Disclaimer: Having not taken or taught the course, I can’t endorse it or offer a detailed review.

About The Atlantica Centre for the Arts

The Atlantica Centre for the Arts is a Premiere Multimedia and Digital Entertainment Institute located in the Uptown Area of Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. A fully accredited arts college, Animation and Video production studio and, a large state-of-the-art professional recording studio and artist management firm make up the core of the ACA’s business.

Atlantica@Home is the worlds first Real Time Virtual College. It provides the benefits of a physical classroom in a virtual space. Students attend structured, scheduled classes, interact, collaborate, share and learn together in real time. We follow the same philosophy @Home as we do at our physical location; hands on instruction by industry pros. This is not an online college, it’s a college online.

More information about the Mobile Application Developer course.