by Dr. Christelle Scharff
On April 26 – May 3, MobileSenegal and the Mobile4Senegal association hosted DEM (“Developpeur et Entrepreneur Mobile” / “Mobile Developer and Entrepreneur”), a 5-day training for 20 professional developers. The name “DEM” was chosen because it means “going” in Wolof and we are striving to build a real mobile ecosystem in Senegal.
The training took place at the West African Research Center (WARC) in Dakar. The facilitators were Christelle Scharff and Thomas Sarlandie, who is the co-founder and former CTO of Backelite, a leading digital agency based in France.
In the last 5 years, MobileSenegal has trained more than 350 students and developers in mobile app development in Senegal. These training were focused on mobile technologies (Java ME, jQuery Mobile, Android, etc.) or project-based teaching.
DEM, on the other hand, targeted professional developers who are already established in digital and service companies or independent developers who have a personal project. 20 professional developers were selected out of a pool of more than 100 candidates based on their background, motivations, and personal projects.
The goal of DEM was to introduce participants to the latest tools and approaches of the software and mobile industry to develop quality and professional apps. We created a specific syllabus for this training that was aligned with the needs we identified in Senegal and the current practices of the industry.
The training covered the following topics:
• Provide an overview of the mobile landscape, its potentials and constraints;
• Introduce jQuery Mobile library for mobile web development;
• Discuss and use the latest leading software development approaches (such as Agile Methodologies) to improve software quality;
• Introduce the use of collaborative tools such as Git to increase productivity; and
• Promote the use of good UI, UX and quality assurance practices to produce professional apps.
The material is available under Creative Commons Licenses in GitHub at https://github.com/mobile-senegal/dem-training.
The training was highly interactive and integrated lots of hands-on exercises. For example, participants played the XP Planning Game to understand the concepts of iteration, user story and planning in Agile Methodologies. They proposed design options for an app on transportation, did interactive exercises in Git, and submitted bug reports for a small app in GitHub.
Overall, the workshop was a great success. From their comments in the post-workshop survey, most of the participants were very satisfied. They enjoyed the high level of interaction between the instructors and the participants and found hands-on exercises practical. They liked that instructors brought their insight and practical experience in the classroom. They said that they will begin adapting what they have learned, especially jQuery Mobile, GitHub, UI/UX design, and Agile, in their everyday job. The practice of creating user stories for requirements engineering and the use of remote access devices for testing were “revelations.” However, some people wanted the training to have more coverage on how to prepare the app for the local market and how to design for specific platforms, i.e. iOS and Android. Some people proposed to have a mini-project to practice outside of the classroom.
We hope to host more workshops for students and professional developers in the future. Please follow us on our Facebook page or @mobilesenegal for the most up-to-date news about our activities and the latest trends and info on mobile technology!
Big thank you to Thomas, WARC and the individuals and companies who made a donation to Mobile4Senegal!