A team of students in the app development program at the Delaware Area Career Center are getting real-world experience as they work to design a custom app for a local softball coach.
Katie Miller is a local private softball coach who was looking for a single app that could handle scheduling, payments, assigning workouts, providing videos of drills, graphing of progress and other functionality. Miller said that in the past, she would print everything and put it into binders, and use different websites and apps for everything. In her search for the perfect app, Miller reached out to DACC App Development and Programming (ADaPT) instructor Connie Skomra for help.
Skomra said four students began attending meetings to work with Miller to design the app, which allows for two user roles in the app: one role for the coach and one role for students and parents. Coachs can upload notes, assign work, and create schedules, while the student/parent role can view schedules, notes and drills, choose times for classes, and upload their own notes.
Students have also been using the Scrum framework to address issues in their own lives like work productivity and staying on track, and they have been working with John Riley, IT trainer and owner of Ready, Set, Agile in Columbus, who is helping to review their work. Planning meetings are held remotely every two weeks to keep Miller informed, test the app and gather feedback.
Team members — Daniel Dawit, a junior at Olentangy Liberty High School; Erin Stacey, a senior at Delaware Hayes High School; Zach Millisor, a senior attending online school; and Dakota Hughes, a senior at Olentangy High School — meet in person when possible but also meet frequently online, Skomra said.
Riley said he has worked with DACC teachers in the past to help mentor students and participate in mock interviews, and he was happy to help when Skomra reached out about the project.
“My company’s mission is to narrow the gap between business needs and the people who have the skills,” Riley said. “Having skills is one thing, but when it comes to using those skills in a team to create something awesome, that’s completely different. I will always help anyone who has the courage to say, ‘I want to learn about something – can you help me?’”
Riley said he spends about two-and-a-half hours every two weeks attending meetings with students and observing their work, but he feels “the students are managing themselves on this project.”
“They decide as a team what can be accomplished in the amount of time they have, and how they will do it,” Riley said.
Millisor said he was the first to volunteer for the project when Skomra first presented it to the class, and he’s learned a lot during the app’s development.
“We knew we were making an app, and we knew the general topic, but the framework for it came later after we learned more about the client and what she needed,” Millisor said. “We did a deep dive into the Scrum framework with Mr. Riley and learned a lot about the process that development teams go through to create a product like this.”
Millisor added that this experience of working on a team with a client will make him more confident in the future.
Dawit agreed, adding Riley helped them create an effective and time efficient process.
“A really important part of making this app is making sure everyone is on the same page and knows what’s happening,” Dawit said.
Miller said the process of meeting virtually was difficult at first.
“None of us knew each other, not even the students, so they were hesitant to speak up,” Miller said. “Now they have become more comfortable with it and even outside of the meetings, they are emailing ideas and questions.”
Miller added students have been easy to work with.
“These kids are amazing,” she said. “I’ll just think out loud without even being able to visualize what I’m talking about and they will take that rough idea and turn it into something usable for the app.”
Hughes said the group has done well because of its effective communication.
“We’ve been able to marry the client and developer ideas through lots of communication,” he said. “It feels good to work with a client and have our ideas validated in a real project.”
Stacey said she’s enjoyed seeing the app come together.
“It takes real effort to create something from nothing like this, but it feels really good to see it taking shape,” she said.
Skomra said the app’s development has been a good opportunity for students to learn and get first-hand experience.
“This continues to be an excellent, on-going opportunity where ADaPT students can learn and gain real-world experience working on an agile software engineering team,” Skomra said. “The skills they are applying here are in high demand and beyond those they can get during regular lab hours.”
The students and Miller hope the app will be done early this summer.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.