There has been considerable activity at the University of Canberra with the implementation of Apple-based systems for supporting teaching and learning. With the University installing a new lecture recording system, staff here in the Teaching & Learning Centre have been focused on ways to optimise the capture, editing, and delivery of videos from all sources (including learner-created, teacher-created, and lecture-recorded).
Amongst the many ideas for content delivery we have been investigating iTunesU and the use of iPod Touch and iPhone devices for accessing content on-campus (or at home) for later review and reflection. With that in mind, I applied for one of the Apple University Consortium (AUC) scholarships to attend last week’s iPhone Software Developer’s Kit (SDK) Workshops in Sydney, and was delighted to be accepted.
The three-day event was hosted at Clifton’s Training on George Street, and the facilities were excellent. There simply wasn’t a technical glitch the whole time we were there, which meant we could focus on learning instead of troubleshooting. The facilities were adequately spacious, well-lit, quiet, clean and modern. A shiny new Apple Powerbook was provided to each participant from the AUC’s own “Classroom(s) in a Box” – this was a simple and flawless way of ensuring all participants were up and running in mere minutes.
The main trainer trainer was Nicholas Circosta, a 21-year-old Honours student from Murdoch University and a founding partner in start-up software development company Codelity. Nick’s interest in all things Apple has naturally led him to apply his studies in Software Engineering to developing all manner of cool, useful, and whacky iPhone apps. It was a privilege to have someone so knowledgable and talented as our trainer, and he made learning iPhone development heaps of fun. I’m no Apple fanboy, but talking with Nick I couldn’t help but be somewhat infected with his enthusiasm for all things Apple! No surprise, then that he’s been headhunted by Apple themselves and will shortly be heading over to begin working for them in Cupertino.
Nick was assisted by Louis Cremen, a mobile developer and teaching member at the University of Wollongong’s Faculty of Informatics. Louis provided excellent support during the “hands on” practical coding parts of the course, as well as great perspectives during teaching and discussion. When Nick goes off to Cupertino, Louis will be taking on the main teaching role for future iPhone SDK Workshops run by AUC, and we were very lucky to have both experts supporting our class during this transitory handover period of the course.
The course was divided into 10 modules of varying size and increasing technical complexity. The course content was designed to be approachable for those with little experience in coding Apple applications in Objective C; and was really ideal for the mixed experience levels in the class (which contained everything from post-doctoral through to minimally-experienced developers!) The first day focused on fundamental concepts of iPhone development (I shall never forget the Model/View/Controller Song from last year’s WWDC), the language (Objective C) and the development environment (XCode+Interface Builder+iPhone Simulator).
We finished the day with a look at the basic structure of an app in development and the concept of “Views” created through both code and Interface Builder. On Day 2, we got into the guts of development and did plenty of coding based on Nick’s examples, achieving things like storing data between sessions, enabling multitouch, and having a look at the various ways to implement 2D, 2.5D, and 3D graphics. By the third day our brains were pretty much bursting… but we were pushed harder conceptually, exploring the Core Animation and Core Location frameworks. Nick allowed us some free programming time at the end of the session, even putting up a nice prize for the participant who could code the best app in the last 3 hours of the day.
This was only my second ever AUC event (the first being CreateWorld09), but if this is an indication of the quality of AUC events I will definitely be hoping to attend more in future. First class training begins with first class trainers, and Nick’s ascendancy into the realms of Apple itself provides some indication of his energy, enthusiasm and talent in iPhone development.
This iPhone SDK workshop is being held again several times this year – in Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth. While I don’t believe it’s possible to get into the Melbourne workshop any more, if you are able to attend the Brisbane or Perth workshops I would highly recommend them. See the AUC website for more details.