The objective of this paper presentation is to share the experience of a variation of an existing course on entrepreneurship, where students from The Ron Joyce Center for Business Studies partnered with Computer Science students to study and experience entrepreneurship on a micro-level by developing an iApp for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices. The course was delivered during fall 2013 semester at Mount Allison University, an undergraduate liberal arts university located in a small town in eastern Canada.
The rise of the high-tech entrepreneur as a pop culture icon is firing the imaginations of tech-savvy students around the world. Bitter memories of the “dot-com” bust of 2000 are being replaced with more robust strategies for transforming ideas into software and successfully taking a product to market. Further, the “one-size-fits-all” business model is no longer applicable to tech companies. Future business and technology leaders require new skills that make for a smoother transition from the classroom to the marketplace.
The introduction of Apple’s iPhone in 2007 revolutionized the mobile industry and solidified the presence of third-party applications or “apps” in our computing experience and our vocabularies. An app is simply a piece of software that is designed to perform one function (e.g., make a to-do list, play a game). With the “opening” of Apple’s App Store in the fall of 2008, app developers had an official venue in which to have their software approved and distributed to the global marketplace. In the first nine months of the service, the store delivered one billion downloads. Today, the App Store features over 500,000 apps for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices. Mobile device users are notoriously fussy and apps can be deemed a success or failure based on user reviews posted online at the Store.
The authors decided to offer a variation of an existing course on entrepreneurship, where students from The Ron Joyce Center for Business Studies partnered with Computer Science students to study and experience entrepreneurship on a micro-level by developing an iApp for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices. Five cross-functional teams, each consisting of three business and two Computer Science students, were involved in the development of an app which focused on data (which precluded the potentially lengthy process of designing a game). The point of the product was to make data accessible at the mobile handset level. One example of such an app was to develop a walking tour of our small university town, complete with history in images, sounds and words. Finally, participants submitted their completed applications to the iTunes store to determine the effect that their product had on the marketplace, in terms of the number of downloads. All apps submitted to iTunes were available for free download.
Recognition of entrepreneurship as a useful competence for Computer Science students is a recent phenomenon of Computer Science education; however, most of these opportunities are offered at the graduate level. The Ron Joyce Center for Business Studies already offers a very successful course on entrepreneurship for third year Commerce students. It seemed very natural to combine the talents of our two departments (software development and entrepreneurship training) and offer a joint course for students of both constituencies.
This presentation will provide a first-hand account of some of the challenges and opportunities that this unique course presented. The authors will share ideas and suggestions on harnessing the potential of cross-functional teams in business and Computer Science areas.
The intended target audience will consist of university/college teachers, instructional and curriculum developers and teaching assistants. The session will be interactive and involve student feedback along with a checklist of best practices for creating and managing such a course.
|Keywords:||Entrepreneurship, Tech Entrepreneur, APPS, Cross-functional Teams, Innovation|
Professor & Head, Department of Commerce, Ron Joyce Center for Business Studies, Mount Allison University, Sackville, NB, Canada
Associate Professor, Mathematics & Computer Science Department, Mount Allison University, Sackville, NB, Canada