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Posts tagged with "education"

Apple Partners with Historically Black Colleges and Universities to Create New Coding Centers

Today Apple announced an expansion of its initiative of partnering with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to create hubs for training the next generation of coders. 10 new HBCU coding centers are being added throughout the US, from which nearly 500 teachers and community leaders will soon participate in “a virtual Community Education Initiative Coding Academy that Apple is hosting for all initiative partners.” During this training:

Educators will learn the building blocks of coding with Swift, Apple’s easy-to-learn coding language. Participants will work in teams to design app prototypes to address real community challenges. After completing the coding academy, educators will begin to integrate the coding and creativity curricula into their communities by launching coding clubs and courses at their schools, hosting community coding events, and creating workforce development opportunities for adult learners.

This announcement comes as Apple just last week shared updates to its lineup of coding resources for students, educators, and families alike, demonstrating the company’s investment in developing coding initiatives across all age groups. The move also follows Tim Cook’s open letter in June addressing racism in America and subsequent creation of a new $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative by the company. The executive leading this initiative, Lisa Jackson, commented on today’s HBCU news saying:

“Apple is committed to working alongside communities of color to advance educational equity,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives. “We see this expansion of our Community Education Initiative and partnership with HBCUs as another step toward helping Black students realize their dreams and solve the problems of tomorrow.”

These last couple months have seen many companies express a desire to work toward pursuing racial equality and justice, but true change takes more than just words, so I’m glad to start seeing the early fruits of Apple’s new commitments.

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Apple Updates Coding Resources for Students, Teachers, and Families

Apple has updated its lineup of coding resources for kids and educators across the board and introduced all-new resources for parents and children interested in learning to program from home.

Apple first introduced its Everyone to Code program in 2016. That program was joined by Develop in Swift in 2019. Between the two programs, Apple has developed resources for students of all ages and their teachers. With today’s announcement, Apple has updated its existing materials and is expanding them with new offerings. As Susan Prescott, Apple’s vice president of Markets, Apps, and Services describes it in an Apple press release:

“Apple has worked alongside educators for 40 years, and we’re especially proud to see how Develop in Swift and Everyone Can Code have been instrumental in helping teachers and students make an impact in their communities. We’ve seen community college students build food security apps for their campus and watched middle school educators host virtual coding clubs over summer break. As part of our commitment to help expand access to computer science education, we are thrilled to be adding a new professional learning course to help more educators, regardless of their experience, have the opportunity to learn coding and teach the next generation of developers and designers.”

The new course that Prescott mentions is a free online course that educators can take to prepare themselves to teach Apple’s Develop in Swift curriculum.

Apple has also updated its set of four free Develop in Swift books that are available from the Apple Books app. The company also introduced a new Everyone Can Code book and teacher guide called Everyone Can Code: Adventures, which is also available in Apple Books.

Also introduced today is a new coding guide that parents and their kids can use at home:

To support parents with kids learning to code at home, Apple is adding a new guide to its set of remote learning resources. “A Quick Start to Code” is now available and features 10 coding challenges designed for learners ages 10 and up, on iPad or Mac. Additional resources are available on Apple’s new Learning from Home website, launched this spring, where educators and parents can access on-demand videos and virtual conferences on remote learning, and schedule free one-on-one virtual coaching sessions, all hosted by educators at Apple. New videos are being added all the time as part of the Apple Education Learning Series — including videos about using Apple’s industry-leading accessibility features.

As someone who struggled to find good resources for my kids to learn to code when they were younger, I’m pleased to see that Apple has continued to expand and support its educational programs. These programs, along with Swift Playgrounds, are rich resources for kids, teachers, and their parents and a terrific way to help kids get started with coding.

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Apple Announces iTunes U and iBooks Author Will Be Discontinued

iBooks Author will become unavailable soon.

iBooks Author will become unavailable soon.

Today through two new support pages that have been posted on Apple’s website, the company announced that iTunes U will be discontinued at the end of 2021 and iBooks Author will become unavailable much sooner: on July 1, 2020.

While both announcements are noteworthy since they concern software with long histories, signs of these moves have been visible for years. iTunes U has received minimal investment of late as Apple has redirected resources to its Classroom and Schoolwork platforms. iBooks Author, similarly, has grown stagnant as many of its features have made their way into recent Pages updates.

Apple is recommending that publishers of public iTunes U content move their content over to Apple Podcasts or Apple Books, as appropriate. Private content, on the other hand, is better suited for moving to Schoolwork.

iBooks Author won’t receive any more updates and will become unavailable for download altogether as of July 1. Anyone who already owns the app will be able to continue using it, but Apple encourages everyone to move book creation to Pages. According to the company:

If you have iBooks Author books you’d like to import into Pages, a book import feature is coming to Pages soon. It will allow you to open and edit iBooks Author files (.iba) in Pages.

Hopefully this forthcoming update will also bring Pages’ book creation tools closer to feature parity with what currently exists in iBooks Author, but it’s possible that may not happen for some time.

With WWDC 2020 drawing ever closer, Apple is clearly trying to get any pre-announcements out of the way so the big show can focus on the future rather than the past. In this context, we may see more app- or developer-related announcements over the next couple of weeks.


CNET Interviews Phil Schiller About the New MacBook Pro, iPad Pro, and More

To mark the release of the new 16-inch MacBook Pro, Roger Cheng of CNET interviewed Apple’s Phil Schiller. The interview begins with a discussion of the laptop’s new keyboard but covers the role of the iPad Pro in Apple’s hardware lineup as well as Macs in education too.

According to Schiller, Apple spent a lot of time talking to pro users in the wake of criticisms of the MacBook Pro’s butterfly keyboard and was told that pro users wanted something like the Magic Keyboard available for desktop Macs. Of that process Schiller told CNET:

There’s a bunch of learning that happened. Some because of moving the desktop keyboard to the notebook and some because we just learned more along the way and wanted to further advance the technology.

Conspicuously absent from the interview though is any mention of changing the keyboard in response to the hardware failures that many users reported.

Cheng also asked Schiller where the iPad Pro fits in Apple’s pro lineup and whether there are plans to merge it with the Mac lineup. As Apple executives have told CNET for years, Schiller was clear that the compromises that a hybrid touch-based Mac would require wouldn’t benefit either platform. Specifically with respect to the iPad Pro, Schiller said:

It was literally to create a different product category. A couple years ago, we split off and created the iPad Pro. This has been a wonderful thing because it allowed us to create two models where we can push the technology. It really accelerated the use cases for iPad.

So now there are a lot of cases where people will use iPad, especially with Pencil, as an artist-creation tool or as a field-compute tool. What we find is there’s a fair number of people who actually spend more of their compute time on their iPad than personal computer. They didn’t choose one or the other. That’s just where they spent a lot of their time.

It’s refreshing to hear Schiller push back on the notion that Macs and iPads will inevitably merge or that consumers need to choose between the two. As someone who uses a Mac and an iPad Pro, I know that’s nonsense, but I also understand that a ‘winner-takes-all’ narrative is more entertaining.

The interview closes with a short discussion of the Mac in the education market where it has struggled at times against Chromebooks. As a parent who’s seen two of my kids learn to code on a Mac while a cheap, locked-down Chromebook sits idle in my house, except when it’s used to turn in assignments and take tests, this from Schiller resonated with me as true:

Kids who are really into learning and want to learn will have better success. It’s not hard to understand why kids aren’t engaged in a classroom without applying technology in a way that inspires them. You need to have these cutting-edge learning tools to help kids really achieve their best results.

Yet Chromebooks don’t do that. Chromebooks have gotten to the classroom because, frankly, they’re cheap testing tools for required testing. If all you want to do is test kids, well, maybe a cheap notebook will do that. But they’re not going to succeed.

Don’t miss Roger Cheng’s full interview on CNET with Schiller. It’s one of the best articulations of Apple’s pro hardware perspective and the place of the iPad in the company’s hardware lineup that I’ve read in a long while.

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Apple Celebrates the Hour of Code with Today at Apple Sessions and Announces New Curriculum Offerings

As in the past, Apple is marking Computer Science Education Week by participating in the Hour of Code. The company will host special Hour of Code sessions in its retail stores from December 1 - 14 as part of its Today at Apple programming. Apple also announced new curriculum offerings:

The company also introduced Swift Coding Club materials to help teach coding outside of the classroom with Swift, Apple’s easy-to-learn programming language used by professional developers to create world-class apps. And to help prepare and develop students for the workforce, the company unveiled new Advanced Placement curriculum and App Development with Swift certification.

This is the sixth year that Apple has participated in the Hour of Code. Participants from 6 - 12 years old will learn to code with robots, while kids 12 and up will use Swift Playgrounds and the iPad.

The Hour of Code is just a small part of Apple’s Everyone Can Code initiative, which has dramatically expanded in recent years. The program now reaches children from their earliest years in school through college graduates.

My kids have participated in past Hour of Code sessions and had a great experience. They are an excellent introduction to coding for any kid who is curious about programming. I suggest signing up soon if you’re interested though because in past years, the sessions, which should go live soon, have filled quickly.


Apple Releases Materials for the Everyone Can Create Curriculum

Last March, Apple held an education event in Chicago where it unveiled a 9.7-inch iPad with Apple Pencil support and a new curriculum called Everyone Can Create. Since then, Apple says over 350 schools worldwide have begun working with the program. A complement to its Everyone Can Code initiative, Everyone Can Create is designed to help teachers and students use iPads in creative pursuits such as drawing, music, photography, and filmmaking.

Today, Apple announced that as part of the Everyone Can Create initiative, it has released four student guides and a teacher guide that are available in Apple’s Books app.

“We believe Apple technology can help unleash every child’s creative genius,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “Working closely with teachers, we have built the Everyone Can Create curriculum to help bring creative expression and the arts into the classroom, and to help students stay engaged through creativity and ultimately be more successful.”

Each student guide, which is free to download in the Books app, includes projects designed to help students learn new creative skills progressively. There is also a teacher guide with over 300 lesson ideas that can be used in a variety of subjects.

The curriculum includes projects that use third-party apps like Tayasui Sketches School as well as Apple’s apps too.

Although the Everyone Can Create guides are being released after many students are already back in school, teachers have had preview materials since the summer, which should help them incorporate the new materials into their lessons if they’d like. Everyone Can Create extends Apple’s curriculum offerings beyond coding, which I like because it should reach a broader group of students. It’s also designed to fit with existing subjects taught in schools, which I expect will make the iPad more valuable to schools that have adopted them.

The Everyone Can Create books are available as free downloads in Apple’s Books app.


Microsoft Announces iPad Edition of Minecraft for Education Coming in September

Today, Microsoft announced that it was expanding Minecraft: Education Edition to include the iPad. According to Microsoft:

Now, students can tap into the power of iPad to build historic monuments, swim through coral reefs with the Update Aquatic, bring creative stories to life, experiment with chemistry, and document their learning with the camera and portfolio features.

The latest expansion of Minecraft: Education Edition adds to the existing 35 million teachers and students in 115 countries that were already using the app on other platforms. The program includes training and curriculum resources for teachers too.

Minecraft is being offered as part of Microsoft’s 365 for Education program and will be available on the iPad beginning in September.


Kano Announces Harry Potter Magic Wand Coding Kit

With three children, I’ve looked at many products over the years that are designed to make learning to code fun and engaging for kids. Of all the things I’ve tried, one of my favorites is a build-your-own computer kit from Kano. The kit is a kid-friendly Raspberry Pi with tiny, bright orange wireless keyboard.

The Pi runs a Kano-skinned version of Linux with a bunch of activities for kids ranging from Minecraft mods to simple building block-style JavaScript programs that abstract away the language’s syntax but makes it available just under the surface as kids become more comfortable with coding. It’s an excellent kit that strikes a good balance between learning and fun.

This week, Kano announced a new Harry Potter-themed magic wand. Kids build the wand, which contains an accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer, and then use an iPad, Mac, PC, or Android tablet to program magic spells straight from the Harry Potter book series using JavaScript. Kano says the wand, which can be pre-ordered for $99 and will be delivered on October 1st, comes with a book of over 70 projects and can be ordered from Kano directly, Amazon, and other retailers.

My kids are a little old for the Kano wand now, but I know that if it were available back when they were tearing through the Harry Potter series, the wand would have probably turned up at my house over the holidays.


Apple Releasing Schoolwork App for Teacher and Student Assignment Collaboration Today

At an education-focused event held in Chicago this past March, Apple previewed an app called Schoolwork for teachers and students, which the company released today.

By integrating features for teachers and students, the app is meant to serve as a central location for coordinating assignments and collaborating. The free iPad app allows teachers to distribute announcements and assignments to students as well as materials like links, PDFs, and other documents. Teachers can also create assignments that take students to specific activities within apps that support Schoolwork. Class performance can be monitored too:

Schoolwork and the apps supporting it give teachers new insight into how their students are performing, helping them tailor their teaching to the needs and potential of each student. Teachers have a snapshot of class performance and can check on an individual student’s progress across activities — progress within apps or projects they’ve created.

Students can use the app to access assignments, track their progress, and access materials from their teachers.

Schoolwork helps students track their assignments.

Schoolwork helps students track their assignments.

Schoolwork looks like an good way to streamline the process of distributing and tracking assignments between teachers and students. However, some of the most compelling features of Schoolwork require apps to support it. Apple says apps like Explain Everything, Tynker, GeoGebra and Kahoot! already support Schoolwork, and hopefully, others will follow suit.

Schoolwork should be available to teachers on the App Store soon. In the meantime, you can learn more about the app on Apple’s Education page.