MobileBridge iOS Workshop at PlanGrid, April 2015

Last weekend, PlanGrid hosted the third MobileBridge iOS workshop, teaching iPhone app development to women and their friends. We split into 3 classes. Two classes taught the Rotten Tomatoes curriculum — populating a tableview with data from the internet. The third class learned from the new prototyping curriculum, where students sketched app UI on paper, consulted quick usability tests, then used photos of the sketches as screens in a working iOS app.

In advance of the workshop, we held teacher training the previous Sunday evening. The teachers not only reviewed the curriculum and what they would be teaching, but also discussed effective teaching techniques and how to create a safe space for learning. MobileBridge teachers and TAs were about half women and men, but almost all of the students are women. (Men are allowed to participate as a guest of a woman, encouraging them to participate in the outreach.) The majority of students had some prior programming experience, but all were new to iOS.

The workshop began with introductions. Many of the teachers were motivated by a desire to create a diverse culture in the software industry, but also spoke about how teaching is a great way to keep our skills fresh, being challenged by students’ questions and gaining a new perspective from the other teachers. Students were asked to talk about the iOS apps they wanted to build. Part of the process is to show students how to recognize the common iOS patterns. Since most apps are composed of tableviews, tab controllers and navigation controllers, you can build what might seem like a complex app after you master the basics. Of course, it takes a lot more than a single day to master iOS development, so a vision for the app you want to build is a great motivator.

Developing the curriculum takes a lot of advance work, but the format of a MobileBridge workshop means that work makes every future workshop easier. Based on the Bridge Foundry model all the materials are open source, as is the format itself. All of the workshop organizing takes place in the open. If you want to volunteer, just chime in on the github issue for the next workshop!