Students develop iPad app

A team of students from La Trobe’s Faculty of Science, Technology and Engineering have developed the University’s first mobile learning iPad app for a Humanities and Social Sciences project to playfully orient new students to the Melbourne campus.

iPadPuzzlehunt— an interactive scavenger hunt application—will be used for the first time during O-week 2012.

Final year Bachelor of Computer Systems Engineering student Jarrod Timms says the opportunity to develop the app came from a subject on software development which led into a cadetship mentored by iOS app developer, Paul Goldacre.

‘Once the subject was completed Paul Goldacre offered us the opportunity to collaborate with a developer to create an industry standard app for Apple's iPad, rather than the original iPhone app intended for the class.

‘We knew that we were able to accomplish the task from the knowledge obtained in the uni subject but we were unsure if we had enough time to complete the development and testing process before O-Week,’ Jarrod says.

‘This opportunity has showed me the importance of a deadline, and how invaluable the testing period is for development.’

Mr Paul Goldacre organised three teams of six students to develop the O-Week app in the context of their computer science degree. Mr Goldacre says that the success of Jarrod’s team led to two Industry Based Learning (IBL) placements.

‘The IBL placements gave students the opportunity to take their student project—under the guidance of myself, La Trobe’s Dr Torab Torabi and an industry partner—and refine the app to meet the ongoing challenge of the first year university experience and to provide the students with real world experience by being a part of the Puzzlehunt project,’ says Mr Goldacre.

‘Being part of a project bound for the iTunes App store will advantage these students when they leave Uni and start looking for work.’

La Trobe’s Melbourne campus spans over 2000 hectares encompassing more than 40 buildings and can be a daunting experience to navigate for new students making Puzzlehunt an ideal activity.

Built over Google Maps, students using the app will be able to find their way to different points on the campus on the lookout for special codes. Once they scan the code, they have a task to complete which provides the student with a fun interactive learning exercise.

The iPad app monitors their progress and as each task is completed, they are sent off to another location of their choice.

Jonathan Causevski, a final year Bachelor of Software Engineering student says the extra effort the group put in independently is what set them apart from the rest.

‘We were required to meet up once a week, but became excited about the project so met up twice sometimes three times a week. The extra effort paid off as we were able to work further on the software to develop it with an external company was a great experience,’ Jonathan says.

‘I learned a lot about the industry and am definitely thinking about it as a profession, plus it was really great to work as a team and have that added support. I’m excited to see it in action during O-Week.’

Mr Goldacre initiated the project and Dr Kay Souter, Associate Dean in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, supported the cross faculty collaborative project, between her faculty and the Faculty of Science, Technology and Engineering to support the development of the iPad app.

‘This has been an impressive collective involvement and it has been rewarding to see the project go from an idea to a realisation. The students who developed the app have gained practical skills and the app will be a useful tool to help incoming students get acquainted with their new learning environment while socialising with fellow students,’ says Dr Souter.

For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Meghan Lodwick

La Trobe University Communications Officer
T:  03 9479 5353 M:  0418 495 941 E: M.Lodwick@latrobe.edu.au 

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