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There’s an App for That at Emerson

Students attend an app development workshop at the Bordy Theater February 16 and 17. Photo/Lu Ann Reeb

Hamad Al Badi ’16 is trying to add Mandarin and French to the three languages he currently speaks. By early summer, there may be a mobile app to help him practice with other language learners.

He will have invented it.

Al Badi, a Marketing Communications major and an Emerson Experience in Entrepreneurship (E3) minor, is one of 56 students who attended a workshop in the Bordy Theater on February 16 and 17 that taught them how they can develop their ideas into usable applications without knowing any coding or coders.

“I just like the medium of apps because of how mobile I am,” Al Badi said.

The workshop was organized by E3 Director Lu Ann Reeb, who, in the last couple of years, has seen her entrepreneurship students become more and more interested in building apps.

“I saw it start to percolate last academic year,” Reeb said. “Then when the new cohort came in last fall, there were five or six [asking about apps] and I thought, ‘This is great, but I need to be able to help them and that’s not really my area of expertise.’”

Students learn how to build apps using ViziApps at a workshop February 16 and 17 organized by E3 Director Lu Ann Reeb. Photo/Lu Ann Reeb

So Reeb found ViziApps, a company that enables users to design and publish their own apps using a drag-and-drop platform.

George Adams, ViziApps co-founder and CEO, began the workshop with an overview of apps and what they can and cannot do, as well as types of apps and the current digital landscape.

Apps account for 86 percent of mobile use, according to Adams. Only 14 percent of mobile activity is browser-based, he said.

The two-day workshop also included tutorials on designing an app based on the intended user and building apps using the ViziApps platform.

The workshop was required for Reeb’s E3 students, but it was open to all majors within the School of Communication.

“I can think of so many applications beyond just my entrepreneurship students,” said Reeb.

Savannah Strange ’17 is a Communication Disorders major who wants to build an app for children with autism and their families. SpeechKAT (Keeping Children with Autism Thinking) would offer a series of goal-based games to help children better communicate.

Strange said she got the idea from observing children at Emerson’s Robbins Center and seeing all the possibilities for an interactive app in a clinical setting.

“I think it’s something that isn’t being used to the potential it could be,” Strange said.

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