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TMCNet:  EPISD tech school offers app development class

[February 05, 2013]

EPISD tech school offers app development class

Feb 05, 2013 (El Paso Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Need a calculator Your phone probably has an app for that.

Want to know how that app was made There is a class for that.

Mobile applications have become a necessity for cell phones and tablets and the need to know how they are made is something one El Paso Independent School District class is based on.

The Mobile App Development class is in its first year the Center for Career and Technology Education.

The class's teacher, Christopher Allan, said it is the only class in the El Paso area that deals with mobile apps.

The class is a two-year program, which began with students building a calculator Android apps.

In the second year, the class will use the IOS software that is used in the iPhone, iPads and other Apple products, which is a little more difficult to make.

"It's all kind of like a lot of math and it isn't the standard algebra," Allan said. "There is a great deal of logic. To build the basics of application, you need an idea of what it will do." That is why the class worked on a calculator app during the fall semester.

"I wanted to teach them how to do a calculator or Tetris," Allan said. "They are apps that keep them engaged but are a little simple to write." Teaching the class has been a little difficult Allan said, just because the idea of app development is so new.

"If you are an English teacher, there are resources or other teachers can help you," Allan said. "It's difficult, but it is kind of cool because I can try new things." Allan has six students in the class. Most the school's classes average 10 to 15 students.

Because of the school's block schedule, the class lasts two and a half hours, which allows Allan and the students to cover plenty of ground at a time.

German Arredondo, a senior, said he feels like he learns more in the mobile app class than he would just by reading about it in a textbook.

"I am really into technology and have always been since I was young," Arredondo said. "I enjoy the hands-on experience instead of just lectures and textbooks. It gives you that hands-on experience." Like most people, Arredondo didn't realize how complicated it was to get a simple app to work on a smart phone or tablet.

"It's harder than it looks," Arredondo said. "You always see apps everywhere but you don't always see the work behind it." David Harring, a junior, agreed with Arredondo and said he has a new appreciation for apps.

"I always had an interest in computers, gaming and apps," Harring said. "I took all this software for granted. You see the programs and you think it is easy. Then you get in the class and you see every little movement has a code and it's complicated." Harring said he has no interest in having a job in technology, but he said he could still use it for his everyday life.

"If I can understand what is going on in the program I can just fix it myself," Herring said.

But for most students, Mobile App Development may one day lead to a scholarship or even a career.

"If they really excel at this they can make their own business out of it," Allan said. "They can develop their own apps and sell it on the Internet. They can also add the app to their portfolio and show employers that they worked on it at the high school level." Aaron Bracamontes may be reached at; 546-6156. Follow him on Twitter @AaronBrac.

___ (c)2013 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas) Visit the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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