As the digital world continues to evolve, teaching skills that will serve that world becomes increasingly critical. For Proctor's Technology Department, these skills lie at the core of its dynamic academic curriculum. Whether the class focuses on animation, web design or app development, students are learning to write and apply code to a number of different platforms.
While observing C and D Block's Mini App Development courses last week, Alec, Devon and Duong shared insights into the learning process that is demanded of a computer science course at Proctor. As Alec noted in last week's student spotlight, software and app development courses have provided him with a freedom to explore his passion in an academic setting. Through video tutorials available through a number of online sources like lynda.com and guidance from Proctor's technology director, Jim Cox, students are able to navigate development studios (either Xcode or Eclipse depending on the platform) using Linex and Java code.
Alec commented, "My goal for this course is to learn about the current and future market place for software, and then develop a project/product that will serve a need within that market."
While Alec has spent much of his time developing apps, Devon and Duong's passion lies more in the development of video games and graphics. In the following video, Devon explains some of his work using 3D blender, a 3-D rendering program he has used to craft a third-person game and Duong has used to create lifelike creations for his own games for mobile and desktop devices.
For Devon, software development runs in his family as both his father and grandfather are business software programmers. He began to explore programming in seventh grade and has since developed some creative games and applications that are available to students and faculty to play on the server. Below is a screen shot from one of Devon's games, for which he developed the graphics from scratch.
For students writing their own code for these programs, using Apple's Objective C can be challenging, as Alec describes, "Each project is incredibly time consuming. I work through practice projects, learning and exploring the impact of different code, but for each final project, I generate original code, which is a challenge. It's like a giant game of Jenga…you move the wrong piece and the whole project can come tumbling down."
Devon echos these sentiments, "The most challenging part of these projects is that the code is not too complicated, but simply needs to be in the right sequence. A small spelling error here or there can throw off your entire project. Who would have thought spelling mattered so much in the computer sciences!"
Despite these occasional frustrations, students persist in their quest for more knowledge and a better understanding of the complex world of programming. Fortunately for them, app and software development is a labor of love. Whether students are working on highly pixelated drawings, developing iPad and iPhone apps, or creating a multiplayer virtual reality game from scratch, they are in complete control of their own learning through a truly exploratory process.
Duong and Devon explain just how much these courses mean to them in the following video:
The technology department's academic curriculum extends well beyond programming and writing code. A group of students in Webdesign has volunteered to redesign the Andover town website, using their expertise to give back to the community in which Proctor lives. Video and media design courses consistently produce products to help promote activities on campus.
Throughout all of this, students are not only pursuing their passion, but learning valuable skills and then putting those skills to use in the community.
Computer science courses at Proctor span a wide range of abilities. Some students are being introduced to 3D rendering software, while others are designing their own video games from scratch using that rendering technology.
Devon's work in technology courses has further sparked his passion in the computer sciences. He comments, "This course (Mini App Design) is ideal for me. I have the opportunity to further explore what I love to do within an academic setting."
Guidance from Technology Director Jim Cox and the rest of the technology department faculty is augmented by access to online video tutorials as students learn to write code and design their own applications, webpages, and games.
Alec's work in programming has produced a number of apps, including a Proctor portal app used by many in the community.
Duong notes, "In Vietnam, I was not able to pursue my passion for technology in an academic setting. It was all math, science and language. Proctor has opened new doors for me and I love being able to explore this passion as part of my curriculum."