Course Overview

This seminar will allow students to explore issues in designing and writing mobile applications and to gain experience programming mobile applications in the Android platform. It will also give the students several leadership opportunities through choosing topics to discuss in class, as well as leading a team of peers through all stages of project development. Topics related to app design will include the software development process in an open source community, memory management, user interface design, user interface building, input methods, data handling, connecting to databases, network techniques and URL loading, and possibly other specifics such as GPS and motion sensing, and security issues related to mobile device software. Examples of topics students may propose discussing include traditional software engineering principles, agile development methods, UML, additional database concepts, and professional ethics.

This course will be conducted as a mixture of an advanced seminar course and a software development work environment. Students will work in teams on various projects (or on different stages of a single, larger project), will research and present various topics, and will document and reflect on their learning and their software development progress throughout the course.


The objectives of this course are to help you:

  1. Contribute to the structure of the course through on-going discussion of the content and direction of the course.
  2. Explore topics that extend your knowledge in new directions and also tie together knowledge you have acquired throughout your computer science coursework.
  3. Explore connections (and disconnections) among components of your K-Plan, through topics, projects, and reflective assignments.
  4. Further develop software development skills (programming & teamwork),
  5. Develop familiarity with design and implementation techniques used in developing mobile applications,
  6. Develop and apply professional life-long learning skills.



Prerequisite:   Senior standing with a significant background in computer science. Seniors who are not CS majors or minors must have permission from the instructor to take this course; permission will be based on the student's background.

General Outline:

(A detailed course schedule will be available on our class web site or on Moodle.)


Grades will be based on:
Attendance and Active Participation in Class Discussions and SIP Seminar 15%
Full Participation in Project(s) and Associated Journal Reflections
(deliverables will generally range from 10 to 20 points each; deliverable journal entries will each be worth 5 points)
Presentation(s) and Associated Journal Reflections
(presentations will form 15% of the course grade; presentation journal entries 10%)
Final Reflective Essay 15%
Details about the format for presentations, journal entries, and the final reflective essay, as well as reading assignments, announcements, links to class presentations, and other material, will be made available on the COMP 490 Moodle page. Students are responsible for checking these resources frequently.

Attendance and Participation:

Since this class will be a mixture of an advanced seminar and a collaborative software development team, regular attendance and fully engaged participation is crucial to everyone's learning and will weigh heavily in your grade. Please be sure to talk to me in advance if you must miss any class meetings. Active participation in the class means being on time, being prepared, listening to others, contributing ideas of your own, and asking questions as they come up. Student presentations in this course will be as important as presentations by the instructor; you should obviously prepare for your own presentations carefully, but you should also attend to your classmates' presentations thoughtfully and actively.

Meeting deadlines will also be very important -- in a collaborative setting such as this class, it is essential that you be ready with presentations and complete software development assignments in a timely fashion. Programming projects, in particular, are time-consuming and difficult to predict, but time-management skills are as critical in industry as they are in college.

Collaboration and the Honor System:

This course operates in accordance with the principles of the Kalamazoo College Honor System: responsibility for personal behavior, independent thought, respect for others, and environmental responsibility. In particular, academic integrity is a fundamental principle of scholarship. Representing someone else's work as your own, in any form, constitutes academic dishonesty. Unauthorized collaboration and receiving help from others outside the bounds permitted by the instructor are also violations of the College honor code. You are responsible for working within the permitted bounds, and acknowledging any help from others or contributions from other sources.

Software development projects: Most of the software development in this class will be highly collaborative. You will be assigned to groups for these assignments, and working effectively as a team will be an important component. Your responsibilities under the Honor Code include contributing to the team in all ways, documenting everyone who worked on any piece of code, and acknowledging all help you and your team receive from any source, including books, articles, classmates, your instructor, etc. Discussing group assignments with members of other teams is allowed in this class. I may occasionally ask all the members of a group to evaluate the effort and effectiveness of the other members of their group.

Class presentations should represent your own analysis and synthesis of ideas drawn from one or more sources. Your presentation should indicate clearly the source(s) you used or about which you are reporting. You may work on presentations collaboratively or individually, depending on the topic. Be sure to discuss any proposed collaborations with me in advance.

Journal Entries and the Final Reflective Essay must be entirely your own work.

Any student with a disability who needs an accommodation or other assistance in this course should make an appointment to speak with me as soon as possible.