1. Course Description and Objectives

This course, Building Mobile Applications, is a hands-on class that is part of the University of Washington Department of Communication’s Master of Communication in Digital Media(MCDM) program.


What makes a successful smartphone application? How do you know if your organization needs a smartphone application? What is involved in developing a smartphone application? In this course, we will explore applications for modern smartphone operating systems: audience identification, competition, data source, application flow (wireframe, not code). Project; team-based. This is not a programming course.

Learning Outcomes

After completing this course, students will be able to:

  • Identify and analyze competitive smartphone applications
  • Identify data sources for smartphone applications
  • Determine if a smartphone application makes business and communication strategy sense
  • Explain the iPhone App Store submission process
  • Create wireframes, storyboards and navigation flowcharts
  • Use social media technologies to share presentations digitally

Student Responsibilities

  • Be prepared for class; have reading and assignments done on time
  • Participate in active learning inside and outside of class (in other words, both on-line and face-to-face). That means asking questions, helping classmates answer questions, and working with one another to solve problems.
  • Be in class. It’s the only time we’ll have to work face-to-face
  • Ask questions!
  • Regardless of your experience with design or web technologies at the start of the class, I expect you to challenge yourself so that your skills are greater at the end of the quarter than at the start.

Alignment With MCDM Core Values and Competencies:

Value/Core Competency COM585
Identify and analyze the latest developments in digital media technology. Students will create a plan for a smartphone application to be used by a non-profit organization
Understand how to use digital media to create and convey a message
  1. Students share their presentation material using
  2. Students share ideas and learnings via WordPress
Pursue new business and management models based on the application of digital media. Students will understand how the Apple iPhone App store works.

2. Course Structure and Teaching Strategies

Teaching methods for this course will include lectures, video demonstrations, student presentations, reading, and writing assignments. Some classes may feature a guest lecturer who is a leading professional or scholar in interactive digital media. Because it is a hands-on class, enrollment is limited and it will be structured like a seminar. Class discussions are a key element of the course, and students are encouraged to ask questions, offer their own observations, and share their own experiences with technologies.

Instructor’s Educational Philosophy

My goal is to provide a stimulating environment for learning. Course material includes both theory and application, with an emphasis on application to real world problems and situations. Written and oral reports are required because these skills are needed in the work environment in general, and in web development, management, and consulting in particular. Students are required to comment and collaborate as these are practical skills; the means used demonstrates theories discussed in class.

Communication with the Instructor

I am happy to meet with you in order to accommodate your schedule. I also strongly encourage you to send questions, comments, concerns to me via email. I check my campus email less frequently on F-Su; please do not expect an answer to email sent F-Su until Monday. Please use clear subject lines (add “urgent” if the message is time-sensitive). Double your chances of a quick response by also sending the note to my gmail account: kegill at If you have not heard from me within 48 hours, please resend to both email accounts; it would also be a good idea to also change the subject line. [Note: emails without subject lines will not be read; they are automatically filtered into the spam folder.]

Required and Recommended Books and Resources


  • The Business of iPhone App Development: Making and Marketing Apps That Success. Dave Wooldridge, Michael Schneider. apress. (2010)


  • iPhone Application Sketch Book. Dave Wooldridge. apress. (2009)

I may use some books from the Safari library (UW Proquest subscription – offsite log-in required).


  • Monday June 21
  • Monday June 28
  • Sat July 10
  • Monday July 19
  • Sat July 31
  • Monday August 9
  • Monday August 16

Prereq: Student must own a smartphone, iPad or iPodTouch.

3. Assessment

Grades are based on a project (group), an individual (GeekSpeak) presentation, a student (course) blog and class participation. Your grade for this class will be based on a possible total of 1000 points; and your score will be directly translated into the 4.0 scale. Your final grade will be based on the total points received. For points, see the Google Spreadsheet (course links).


  • >950 points = 4.0
  • 900-949 points = 3.9
  • 870-899 points = 3.7
  • 840-869 points = 3.5
  • 800-839 points = 3.2
  • 770-799 points = 2.8

Grading Scale

  • 4.0 – 95-100
    Exceptional work. Student performance demonstrates full command of course material and evidences a high level of originality and/or creativity
  • 3.9 – 90-94
    Outstanding work. Student performance demonstrates full command of course material and exceeds course expectations by completing all requirements in a superior manner.
  • 3.7 – 87-89
    Very good work. Student performance demonstrates above average understanding of the course material.
  • 3.5 – 84-86
    Good work. Student performance demonstrates good comprehension of the course material.
  • 3.2 – 80-83
    Average work. Student performance demonstrates average comprehension of the course material.
  • 2.8 – 77-79
    Below average work.
  • 2.6 and below – 76 and belowUnacceptable work. Course work performed at this level will not count toward the MC degree. For the course to count towards the degree, the student must repeat the course with a passing grade.

UW Grading System

4. Course Policies

By becoming a member of this class, you agree to abide by these rules and any other policies not explicitly stated here that are detailed in the UW Student Conduct Handbook.

Students are expected to attend all classes and are responsible for completing all course material on deadline. You must e-mail me if you miss class because of illness or emergency. This communication is part of your class participation. Moreover, rather than ask me what happened while you were away, you should also check this blog as well as talk to your classmates to “see what you missed.” In-class assignments cannot be made up except by arrangement.

Additionally, from the Faculty Code:

A student absent from any class activity through sickness or other cause judged by the instructor to be unavoidable shall be given an opportunity to perform work judged by the instructor to be the equivalent… Examples of unavoidable cause include death or serious illness in the immediate family, illness of the student, and, provided previous notification is given, observance of regularly scheduled religious obligations and might possibly include attendance at academic conferences or field trips, or participation in university-sponsored activities such as debating contests or athletic competition (Faculty code, Vol. 4, Part 3, Chap 12, sec 1B).

All work must be completed on time. Errors (facts, spelling and grammar) will result in a reduced grade. You are expected to produce original work and properly cite the thoughts and works of others. All sources must be properly cited. Plagiarism and cheating are serious offenses and are not tolerated by the University. For more information, please refer to the University’s Academic Honesty policy.

Classroom Environment
Students and faculty are responsible for creating a good learning environment. We will use computing technology in the classroom during labs; specific uses of computing technology will be announced in advance with detailed instructions.

Students may use laptops or other portable devices for taking notes. However, these portable devices should not be used to engage in non-classroom activities, such as surfing the Net, checking e-mail, playing games or listening to music. These activities would certainly divert your attention away from class and could distract other students as well, thus corrupting the learning environment. I reserve the right to end your use of a portable device, ask you to move, or revoke the privilege of using wireless devices in the classroom.

During class breaks, students may use portable computing devices or lab computers for personal use as long as they respect other class members. Material visible on the computing device should not be offensive or incendiary. Any music played during breaks should be at a level conducive to classroom civility.

Courteous Discourse
Whether in class or online, students are expected to conduct themselves with professional courtesy and decorum. Please make constructive comments; flames and insults are not acceptable. Disagree with the idea, not the person!

The instructor will not give incompletes except under exceptional circumstances.

To request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disability Resources for Students, 448 Schmitz, 206-543-8924/V, 206-5430-8925/TTY. If you have a letter from Disability Resources for Students indicating that you have a disability that requires academic accommodations, please present the letter to me so we can discuss the accommodations that you might need for the class.

E-mail Communication
E-mail communications among members of this class should reflect respect for the rights and privileges of all members of the academic community. This includes not interfering with university functions or endangering the health, welfare, or safety of other persons. In addition to the University of Washington’s Student Conduct Code, there are additional policies for this class:

  • E-mail communication from a student to the instructor will be acted upon, if possible, within 24 hours (M-Th). If an e-mail from a student does not receive a response within 48 hours, then the student should investigate other ways of contacting me (telephone, office hours, etc.). E-mail to the instructor must have clear, not cryptic, subject lines and should include the course number (COM546).
  • Students are responsible for checking their UW mail regularly; instructor and class mailing list mail is directed to the student UW address, as it is the official e-mail address for class enrollment.
  • E-mail communications should not include any CCing of anyone not directly involved in the specific educational experience at hand.
  • E-mail communications should not include any blind-CCing to third parties.

Updated: 17 May 2010 2 June 2010

2 Responses to “Syllabus”


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    […] we’re doing and why (syllabus, […]

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