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App Development for the Social Good: Teaching a Socially Conscious Mobile App Development in an Upper-Level Computer Science Course

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Technical Session 11: Topics related to Computer Science

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

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Paper Authors


Farzana Rahman Florida International University

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Farzana Rahman joins the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department as associate teaching professor in spring 2020. At Syracuse University, Dr. Rahman will be teaching data structure, programming and mobile development courses.

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Samy El-Tawab James Madison University

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Dr. Samy El-Tawab received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA, USA in 2012. Dr. El-Tawab is currently an Associate Professor at James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA, USA. His main research interests include working on the issues surrounding Intelligent Transportation, (VANET) Vehicular Ad-Hoc Networks, Sensor Networks, Multimedia Communication, Cloud Networks, Voice-over-IP and Computer Security. Dr. El-Tawab introduced a system named “FRIEND”: A Cyber-Physical System for Traffic Flow Related Information aggrEgatioN and Dissemination. In 2009, he was awarded a prize for Excellence in Scholarship at The College of William and Mary’s 8th Annual Graduate Research Symposium. He has more than 40 publications including journal/conference papers, book chapters, and posters. He also serves as a reviewer in several journals and conferences. His class "JMU Autonomous Vehicles" was a winner of Virginia Governor's Technology Award 2018 (Innovative Use of Technology in Education) that was taught at JMU X-Labs Spring 2018;

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Mobile application development is an emerging technology that affects users, developers and almost every sector of our lives. Along with the widespread adoption of mobile devices, there has also been a surge in mobile application development. To meet the demands for next-generation workforce equipped with mobile development skills, there has been an increase in post-secondary courses that teach mobile development. While some courses use it as an application area to teach relevant topics, majority focus primarily on mobile application development itself. These students, the makers of the future mobile technology, who are involved in app creation – from defining the concept to requirements gathering, to final implementation – takes into consideration how the app will work successfully and effectively. However, their design decisions are not always made thinking about how the application will influence the user, the community, and the society at large. To address this critical issue, in this paper, we report our experience with weaving the notion of social and ethical computing while designing and developing an upper-level computer science course on mobile application development. Our primary course goals were twofold: 1) Teach students the basics of mobile app development with a team project that exposes them to industry level software development practices, and 2) Introduce students to the notion of socially conscious computing from the perspective of how mobile applications and their design decisions can influence human lives and society. By appealing to students' interest in helping others, in this course, socially conscious mobile development aimed to give students life-changing experiential learning not typically achieved in the classroom, while providing a portable software that benefits society at large. We also focused on teaching students to appreciate how computing and automation influence society and how they can play a role in it as future generation technology makers.

Rahman, F., & El-Tawab, S. (2019, June), App Development for the Social Good: Teaching a Socially Conscious Mobile App Development in an Upper-Level Computer Science Course Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32096

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