Brigham Young University

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Peter Rich is an assistant professor at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. After researching a number of development tools on the market, Professor Rich chose Corona SDK as his tool-of-choice for teaching students mobile development.

Read on to learn why Professor Rich chose Corona SDK and how he uses the platform in his coursework.


Please tell us about your role at BYU.

I’m an assistant professor in the Department of Instructional Psychology and Technology (IP&T) at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah. IP&T is a graduate degree program of the David O. McKay School of Education that pulls students from a wide variety of disciplines and focuses on understanding (a) the psychology of learning, and (b) how to design, develop, measure, and evaluate effective learning.

What courses do you teach at BYU?

I teach courses that focus on design and development aspects. In the beginning development course, I focus on web development. In the advanced course, I focus on mobile development.

How did you discover Corona SDK?

Last summer, a student came to me with an idea for an app for a local museum (Thanksgiving Point). We had worked with this museum in a previous design course. Although this particular student was familiar with Objective-C, I knew that many incoming students for the Fall course didn’t have that knowledge. I realized they likely wouldn’t be able to start from scratch to create a working prototype of an app during a single semester. We also wanted the app to be available on museum-goers’ phones, regardless of whether they had an iOS or Android device.

I began researching tools that would allow us to develop for both platforms and that could be learned and used to build an app in a semester. I looked at PhoneGap, LiveCode, NimbleKit, Appcelerator Titanium, Adobe Flash, QuickConnect, RhoMobile, MonoTouch, Mosync, SenchaTouch, and Corona SDK. I ultimately decided on Corona because of (a) the simplicity of the coding, (b) the performance of the apps that I tested, and (c) the active and helpful developer community.

Which of your classes use Corona SDK?

We mostly use Corona in the advanced development class, where we focus on creating a learning tool for a real client. The Lua language is intuitive and accessible enough that students with zero experience with coding are able to pick it up quickly and create apps.

Prior to discovering Corona, what tools did you use to teach mobile development?

In the past, I taught with Adobe Flex and advanced Javascript/PHP/MySQL. Now we focus almost the entire course on building apps with Corona. We also cover data structures, such as SQLite, XML, and JSON, which we use with Corona.

What is the technical background of the students in the advanced mobile development course?

The only pre-req for the advanced development class is the beginning development course, in which students learn web development skills. IP&T students come from a wide variety of disciplines and, though I occasionally have students who are professional developers, most are complete novices when it comes to coding and programming. What’s more, even those who are developers are unlikely to remain in that position upon graduating from the program. What usually happens is they become instructional designers, directors of learning, or project managers. Having development skills makes them much more effective in communicating with their own developer teams and in understanding the capabilities and limits of different technologies.

How do you feel Corona contributed to the success of your course?

Corona has been a very effective tool for us and is becoming ever more useful as it evolves and becomes more powerful. By the end of the first semester, the Corona SDK Daily Builds (editors note: Daily Builds are only available to subscribers) had so many upgrades that many of the basic tasks (e.g. buttons and scenes) looked completely different from the public version my students were using.

The Corona Labs team was also fantastic in getting us an Academic Site License so we could have the necessary licenses. With these in hand, I foresee using Corona as the principal development tool for my classes. The students love the idea of being able to graduate with the ability to create working mobile apps, and I love showing off my students work.

On a side note – though I use Corona for my advanced course, I allow students in my beginning course to learn a number of different development and production technologies. Last semester, I encouraged one student, who was a complete novice, to use Corona to convert a book he had previously written into a mobile app. Though he had no prior programming or coding experience, this student was able to pick up Corona and create his app (Book of Mormon Promises). He made it available on Google Play and has already received a good number of downloads.

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