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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
In March, Apple lead a Swift Playgrounds course at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Today, which is Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Apple announced that is partnering with schools in California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, and Massachusetts:
Beginning this fall, schools supporting students with vision, hearing or other assistive needs will start teaching the Everyone Can Code curricula for Swift, Apple’s powerful and intuitive programming language.
Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, said:
“Apple’s mission is to make products as accessible as possible,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We created Everyone Can Code because we believe all students deserve an opportunity to learn the language of technology. We hope to bring Everyone Can Code to even more schools around the world serving students with disabilities.”
In addition to existing iOS accessibility features, Apple is augmenting the Everyone Can Code curricula with tools and resources targeted at students with visual and hearing impairments.
Dan Moren, writing for Six Colors on today's announcement of 200 GB of free iCloud storage for schools:
Look, it’s lovely that Apple has decided to give 200GB of free iCloud storage to any Apple ID associated with a teacher or student. It’s a nice gesture, and one that probably makes things a lot easier for those in school environments.
But, come on, Apple—you’re really going to leave the rest of us at 5GB?
The standard 5GB of free iCloud storage has been in place for years now, and, frankly, it’s starting to wear thin. When most iOS devices come in 32GB configurations at the smallest, and many start at 64GB, 5GB feels pretty paltry. Especially when the next step in the upgrade tier is to pay $0.99 for 50GB of storage space. I realize Services has become a moneymaker for Apple, but it just feels cheap.
I hope that increasing free storage for education is the first step towards more free iCloud for everyone this year. I wouldn't expect non-education customers to get 200 GB for free, but the measly 5 GB of free storage have become just as user-hostile as 16 GB iPhones used to be. There has to be a better solution in between.
Stephen Hackett took the updated Pages for a spin and compared its digital book creation features to the existing iBooks Author app for Mac. As it turns out, the new functionality isn't a replacement for what iBooks Author can do:
It cannot open my iBooks Author file for my book on the iMac G3 and history of Mac OS X. I’m not super surprised by that, but as the future of iBooks Author is unknown, I’d like a way to know I can edit this file using Pages in the future.
The options when creating a book in Pages are currently more limited than what is available in iBooks Author. There are fewer templates available, and the hierarchy of chapters and sections are nowhere to be found. iBooks Author includes tools for a Table of Contents and Glossary, and these are missing from Pages as well.
Pages also lacks iBooks Author’s widgets. These can be used to add Keynote files, pop overs, review questions, videos and even HTML content to books. This is a pretty big oversight, as these tools can add real interactivity to a book.
iMore's Serenity Caldwell has also clarified with Apple that the eBook creation feature in Pages is not a replacement for iBooks Author, which is still "continuing development" – whatever that means, given its erratic update schedule and lack of an iPad version.
I was hoping to be able to create rich, interactive iBooks using Pages for iPad, but unfortunately this isn't possible with today's update. Still, I'm going to experiment with the feature to generate EPUBs for my longform reviews directly from iOS.
See also: AppleScript support for eBook creation in Pages for Mac.
Everyone Can Code is a curriculum that Apple created to teach students the Swift programming language. Much of the information shared about the curriculum by Apple at its education event in Chicago today wasn’t new. However, the company did announce a new ARKit module that will be available inside Apple’s Swift Playgrounds app.
Apple also introduced a new curriculum called Everyone Can Create:
Everyone Can Create is a new, free curriculum that makes it fun and easy for teachers to integrate drawing, music, filmmaking or photography into their existing lesson plans for any subject. The new curriculum joins Apple’s successful Everyone Can Code initiative as one-of-a-kind programs for teachers that keep students excited and engaged.
Available now as a preview, new materials will continue to be added throughout the summer so teachers can use them beginning this fall. In addition, Apple Stores will provide training as part of their Today at Apple programs beginning later this spring.
The curriculum focuses on four creative areas: music, video, photography, and drawing. Everyone Can Create includes a teacher guide, student guide, lessons, ideas, and examples to assist teachers who want to incorporate the new curriculum into existing subjects like math and history.
Although the new curriculum shares a similar name with Everyone Can Code, Everyone Can Create’s approach is quite different. It’s designed to fit with existing subjects taught in schools, supplementing teachers' lessons in new and interesting ways that leverage the power of the iPad.
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