Mark Bridge writes:
Developing a successful mobile product or service isn’t just a question of having a great idea. There are all sorts of challenges, from the technical aspects of application development to the wider issues of branding and funding.
That’s where The Mobile Academy steps in. It’s a London-based mobile masterclass designed to give you a helping hand with innovation, whether you’re an entrepreneur, a business owner, a developer or a designer.
To find out more, I’ve been talking to Julia Shalet, Course Director of The Mobile Academy.
She explained that the course started from a connection between Jo Rabin of Mobile Monday London and Dr Alastair Moore of University College London.
“Alastair Moore had run a pilot course to see what would happen if they started teaching business technology and design rather than just focussing on the technical aspects. The idea they were talking about together was that this course should be taught by real practitioners from the industry, and bringing that wealth of experience - real-life case studies - back into the classroom.”
Julia’s own experiences in the mobile industry started when she joined Mercury One2One as a temp in 1993. She rose through the organisation and left in 2005, setting up the Digital Youth Project to help tech businesses and young tech users learn from each other. Her time is now split between Product Doctor projects and working with mobile consultancy Azenby.
The common thread through Julia’s work is listening to users and creating the right user experience. As she explained, “My strong beliefs are around putting the user at the centre of everything you do… and you really can’t go wrong if you do that.”
All the tutors involved with the course have practical experience in their subjects. “One of the highlights of the course is where about twenty experts come in and offer 20 minute drop-in surgeries. It’s hell to arrange but it works very well! You might be talking about how to get access to development funds with one person, with another you might be talking about NFC, how to do your own PR, how to solve a particular problem with iOS code… it’s very diverse. We’ll have some new people this time as well.”
There’s a formal Certificate of Continued Professional Development awarded to participants who complete the course at UCL, although the Mobile Academy isn’t really about collecting a piece of paper. Julia says feedback from those on the course has been more about the people involved.
“What they’ve told me is not only has it been incredible to get a chance to meet these industry experts who we’ve managed to get in to teach the syllabus, but also to meet each other.”
The next course from The Mobile Academy will start in April 2013. There’s a waiting list for general registration, which is due to open in early March, and there’s also an opportunity for larger organisations to guarantee their participation through ten ‘sponsored’ places.
You can listen to my conversation with Julia on our website audio player, via iTunes by using our RSS feed or by downloading the mp3 file.