The Max Labs Project
Why should non-MIS students (HR or Marketing, etc) learn app development?
Through doing so with the Max Labs, any Business student will learn how systems can be leveraged to do things better/faster/smarter so they can apply technology innovatively, enabling them to excel in whatever their job. By getting an under-the-hood understanding of systems, the possibilities, the limitations, etc., they'll be able to imagine solutions and how to meet challenges with tech, even if they won't build those themselves.
How can students with zero coding experience/skill do develop apps?
Salesforce's tag line is "Clicks, not Code." The power of their platform is in allowing apps to be developed declaratively, by clicking buttons, choosing menu options, etc. If they read and follow instructions, any Business student–Marketing, HR, Finance–can build mobile & web-connected apps, just by following Max's instructions and they'll amaze themselves with what they build!
How much do the lab materials cost?
The lab materials themselves don't cost anything. They're PDFs that anyone can download (though they are copyrighted and not to be altered and redistributed). But while executing the 2nd one (Lab 1b), one step in the instructions requires a one-time payment of $19.99 that covers the entire lab set (way less than most lab manuals). The revenues support maintaining & updating the labs for the future.
Is there a textbook that they should be used with?
The labs are not tied to any one textbook. They make a great complement/supplement to go with any of the texts commonly used for the undergraduate Intro to Business Systems course eg. Baltzan, Laudon & Laudon, Gallaugher, etc. (At SJSU, we use it with Kronke.)
What software/hardware is required?
The labs are performed on the Salesforce cloud-based app-development platform, Force.com, using the free, lifetime Developer Edition (DE) account available to anyone from the Salesforce website. These accounts are cloud-based, like Gmail, and are accessed via any web browser on any Internet-connected laptop or mobile device so students can use Macs, Windows, smartphones, iPads or even Linux machines "as is," without installing or downloading anything. The Internet bandwidth requirements are minimal because the Force.com interface is primarily textually-based with few graphics and no video.
What do instructors need to do to obtain Salesforce accounts for their students?
Nothing. The lab instructions tell to students how to obtain the free, lifetime Developer Edition (DE) account themselves, directly from the Salesforce website. No instructor intervention is involved. If students forget their passwords during the term, they simply follow the protocol on the Salesforce authentication page to get it reset.
What is the license agreement for using the labs in my classes?
Our license agreement is simple–we ask only that if you use the labs at all, you assign at least Lab 1a and Lab 1b and require students to submit the deliverables for credit.
To keep the labs running smoothly for you, we also ask that you join MaxProfs a free online community for instructors using the Max Labs and subscribe to the Alerts/Updates blog. Salesforce updates the platform regularly on their own schedule and sometimes their updates require minor tweaks to the lab materials. We are committed to providing updates as quickly as humanly possible.
Do the labs require any prior knowledge of Salesforce?
No, the labs start out assuming zero knowledge or exposure to Salesforce. And the instructions have been honed from extensive use at SJSU so sticking points are few, especially if students are reminded to read and follow instructions carefully. Occasionally students will stray from the instructions so there are troubleshooting tips for each lab, listing the common mistakes and how to recover. And there's a student support forum for getting online help from our experienced team. But ideally, instructors will familiarize themselves with the labs and/or provide one or two lab assistants who worked them in advance, to give students direct in-person assistance if needed.
Are the labs self-contained? What is the instructor's role?
The labs are fairly self-contained. They can be assigned as homework or performed during a class session. (Each one can be completed by the majority of students within the typically 75-minute class session.) Instructors add-value by integrating the lab experiences into class discussions of the topics normally covered, eg. cloud, mobile, database, process automation, CRM, etc. Many of our instructors set aside three class sessions during the semester for the 1st, 3rd and 5th labs, while assigning the 2nd, 4th and 6th labs as homework in-between.