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The Challenges and Solutions for Developing Mobile Apps in a Small University

Authors: Greg Turner, Bin Lu, Cheer-Sun Yang


As computing technology advances, smartphone applications can assist student learning in a pervasive way. For example, the idea of using mobile apps for the PA Common Trees, Pests, Pathogens, in the field as a reference tool allows middle school students to learn about trees and associated pests/pathogens without bringing a textbook. While working on the development of three heterogeneous mobile apps, we ran into numerous challenges. Both the traditional waterfall model and the more modern agile methodologies failed in practice. The waterfall model emphasizes the planning of the duration for each phase. When the duration of each phase is not consistent with the availability of developers, the waterfall model cannot be employed. When applying Agile Methodologies, we cannot maintain the high frequency of the iterative development review process, known as ‘sprints’. In this paper, we discuss the challenges and solutions. We propose a hybrid model known as the Relay Race Methodology to reflect the concept of racing and relaying during the process of software development in practice. Based on the development project, we observe that the modeling of the relay race transition between any two phases is manifested naturally. Thus, we claim that the RRM model can provide a de fecto rather than a de jure basis for the core concept in the software development model. In this paper, the background of the project is introduced first. Then, the challenges are pointed out followed by our solutions. Finally, the experiences learned and the future works are presented.

Keywords: Mobile Apps, Agile Methods, Waterfall Model, software process model

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