Breaking down something that’s intimidating to learn

I’d like to learn more about mobile development because there’s so much untapped potential when it comes to these portable devices that invite personalized, playful, touchable use. I think the next few years will be tremendously exciting, and I want to learn how to contribute to this future.

Mobile development is intimidatingly complex. Even if I focus only on Android development – and maybe even only on tablets that run Ice Cream Sandwich or later, for example – there’s so much to learn. There are so many possibilities to explore. It’s easy to get overwhelmed.

But I’ve learned about other large areas of study before, and I can figure this one out too. I’m getting better at ignoring the fact tht there are so many places where I could start, and just starting.

My plan:

Go through the tutorials until I can build things with a few hints. This will help me learn the basics.
Contribute to open source projects, then create and release my own. I want to learn both design and development.
Build more small apps. Release them and learn from the feedback.
Share what I’m learning through blog posts and maybe short e-books.
Graduate to paid apps or content? We’ll see. 

If I take it step by step, then it’s a lot more manageable. The more I learn, the better I can get at learning.

Many new fields are intimidating when you’re a beginner. That’s okay. Don’t let that stop you from starting.

  • Nathaniel Mallet

    Your plan is well thought out and practical. It’s very similar to the traditional medical school learning technique of “See one, Do one, Teach one” (read and contribute to open source project, build & release small app, share what you’ve learned).

    Another way I try to reduce the intimidation factor of learning something big is to give myself enough time to learn it. As you said, some of these fields require practitioners to learn a large volume of material just be a beginner, and this takes time.

  • Raj

    I came across what might be a great resource for someone starting out in Mobile development this morning! It’s an iTunes U course run out of Carnegie Mellon. What I liked about it was that it splits app development into two pieces:

    1. How to visualize large amounts of data so it makes sense to an end user (the ah-ha for me was when I realized they were not just talking about data sets, but also Ux design)

    2. They go through Objective-C 101 (I guess with the Asus tablet you just bought this may not be relevant, but perhaps you could do the assignments based on your platform? Not sure how challenging they’d be as I’ve only skimmed through the first few chapters)

    Let me know if you’re interested and can’t find it.

    Best wishes (hope you’re doing well post IBM :) )


    • I hear that iOS development is worlds different from Android development, and I’m not good enough to translate yet. I’d be interested in UX insights, though!

  • Have you seen the IOIO (Yo-Yo) for Android? Get some of that physical computing mixed with your android.