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Posts tagged with "education"

Apple Invites Press to An Event For Teachers and Students in Chicago

Last December, Apple announced a partnership with the Chicago Public Schools to bring Apple’s Everyone Can Code program to the city’s students. Today, Apple sent invitations out to members of the press about an event that will be held at Lane Tech College Prep High School in Chicago. The invitation, which is titled ‘Let’s Take a Field Trip,’ says ‘Join us to hear creative new ideas for teachers and students.’ The event is scheduled for March 27, 2018 at 10:00 a.m.

The invitation doesn’t provide details of what Apple has in store for the event, but the debut of iOS 11.3, a new Apple Books app, and new entry-level iOS hardware targeted at the education market are all possibilities.

Apple Releases Swift Playgrounds 2.0 with Third-Party Subscriptions

Apple has released version 2.0 of the Swift Playgrounds iPad app. The app provides an interactive learning environment for the Swift programming language. With version 2.0, Apple has introduced subscriptions to playgrounds from third-party creators. According to Apple’s developer news site:

You’ll automatically see new and updated playgrounds in your subscriptions, a content gallery that shows all playgrounds in a single view, new robots, and much more.

Subscriptions can be added by entering a URL or by browsing a gallery Apple has created, both of which are accessible from an ‘Add Subscription’ button in the top right-hand corner of the screen from which you add new playgrounds. As of publication, the buttons for adding subscriptions from the gallery do not work, but they should soon. When updated playgrounds are available, you can receive a notification too. Among the first third parties with subscription-based playgrounds are Sphero, Lego Mindstorms, UBTech, Parrot Drones, IBM, Mekamon, Wonder Workshop, and Skoog.

In addition to subscriptions, the update includes enhanced documentation for the Swift programming language and iOS SDK, and playgrounds can be opened from the Locations button in the Files app.

Apple Celebrates the Hour of Code with In-Store Events, a Swift Playgrounds Challenge, and Teacher Resources

Apple has participated in’s Hour of Code challenge for the past several years. This year, the company is back again with a series of workshops for kids that run from December 4 - 10, 2017, which coincides with Computer Science Education Week. During free sessions:

Young aspiring coders can learn coding basics during a Kids Hour session, while those age twelve and above can use Swift Playgrounds on iPad to learn coding concepts and even program robots.

In addition to the in-store lessons, Apple has added a new coding challenge to its Swift Playgrounds iPad app with which students build and customize a digital robot and new teacher resources as part of its Everyone Can Code curriculum.

You can sign up for the Hour of Code sessions here, but act quickly because in years past, these sessions have filled up fast.

App Camp for Girls Hosts Fireside Chats with Developers and Others in the Apple Community

App Camp for Girls is currently conducting a series of interviews on its website – dubbed Fireside Chats – with different members of the Apple community. Interviewees range from iOS and Mac developers working at companies like The Omni Group, Smile, and Starbucks, to solo indie developers, and other active members of the community. I especially enjoyed hearing from developers about how they got their start in the world of software creation, and lessons learned in the process of building their first apps. There are interviews with people from all sorts of working backgrounds though, making these chats accessible to anyone interested in the Apple and technology communities.

These interviews are timed in conjunction with App Camp's current fundraiser on Indiegogo, where they're seeking to raise $75,000 to start camps in three new cities by 2020. Currently the campaign has raised $23,000 of that $75,000 goal, with about two weeks remaining. If you'd like to support the cause, go here to donate.

For more information about App Camp and its work to promote gender equity in technology, you can read our coverage from earlier this year when the organization announced its expansion to Chicago, or listen to Federico and John's interview with App Camp's co-founders, Jean MacDonald and Grey Osten, on episode 3 of AppStories.


App Camp for Girls 2017 Compendium App Released

Following the completion of its summer camps this year, App Camp for Girls has launched a new app featuring work done by 2017 camp participants. This year’s app includes a set of 14 quizzes and choose your own adventure games. The app’s release notes describe how the app came to life:

In one week, [camp] participants brainstorm ideas, design icons and interface, build their quizzes in Xcode, and make their own swag. Each session culminates in a fun pitch session with a panel of investors and entrepreneurs, where the young developers get to show off their work.

If you’re interested in learning more about this organization, Federico and John hosted the co-founders of App Camp for Girls, Jean MacDonald and Grey Osten, on an episode of AppStories earlier this year.

At a $0.99 purchase price, the App Camp Compendium 2017 app is a small, but simple way to show support for the work App Camp for Girls is doing.


Tim Cook on Apple’s Social Responsibility

Last week, Apple CEO, Tim Cook, toured the Midwest and Texas. Cook stopped in Ohio at a manufacturer of equipment used by Apple in the production of iPhones, announced a massive data center in Iowa, and capped off the week in Austin, Texas to spotlight Apple’s Swift curriculum for community colleges. In an interview with the New York Times, Cook put the trip in perspective:

The reality is that government, for a long period of time, has for whatever set of reasons become less functional and isn’t working at the speed that it once was. And so it does fall, I think, not just on business but on all other areas of society to step up.

One area where Apple is trying to make a difference is in education. Cook said,

…he had chosen to focus on getting the curriculum to community colleges, rather than four-year colleges, because “as it turns out, the community college system is much more diverse than the four-year schools, particularly the four-year schools that are known for comp sci.”

That’s a thoughtful approach designed to do more than just educate and bring a new generation of programmers to Apple’s software platforms. The courses are still in their infancy, but by bringing them to institutions that are already more diverse than four-year colleges, Apple hopes to address diversity in the tech sector too.


iTunes U Collections Are Moving to Apple Podcasts

Apple has announced that in September, when iTunes 12.7 is released, it will migrate iTunes U collections to Apple Podcasts. iTunes U courses will be available only through the iTunes U app on iOS.

iTunes U was launched in 2007 to offer downloadable collections of free educational content through the iTunes Store. In 2012, Apple introduced the iTunes U iOS app, which allowed educators to create iTunes U courses that go beyond audio and video by incorporating handouts, homework, quizzes, ebooks, and other content. Although courses are currently listed alongside collections in iTunes on macOS, courses are designed to work best in the iTunes U app, which is iOS-only.

According to Apple’s announcement and support pages, it will automatically convert iTunes U Collections to podcasts in September and eliminate the iTunes U section of iTunes on macOS. That means there will no longer be a way to download iTunes U course materials on a Mac. The change also means that the iTunes U catalog will only include courses and will only be accessible from an iOS device.

The transition of iTunes U collections to podcasts will occur automatically but carries a couple of caveats. First, iTunes U and podcast categories are different. Collections will be assigned podcast categories automatically, but they may differ from the ones assigned in iTunes U. However, collection creators can use their new iTunes Podcast Site Manager sites to change the category at any time.

Second, collections that include ePub files may want to substitute them with PDF files. According to Apple’s iTunes U Public Site Manager support page:

Apple Podcasts supports all media types currently supported by iTunes U collections, with the exception of ePub files. If your collections contain ePub files, you might want to replace the ePub files with another file type (for example, a PDF file).

This advice seems at odds with the Apple Podcasts Connect support page that says ePub files are supported by podcasts. However, unless Apple provides clarification, it is probably best to switch to PDFs as suggested.

As podcasts grow in popularity, converting iTunes U collections to podcasts should expose them to a broader audience. The transition also simplifies iTunes on macOS and limits the iTunes U app to the content that is designed to work best with it. Each of those reasons makes sense in isolation, but there is a gap that hasn’t been addressed. What’s missing is a way to access iTunes U courses on the Mac. It’s possible that Apple has decided that iTunes U courses should be iOS-only, but I can’t help but think we’ll see a new approach to iTunes U on the Mac this fall and that this transition may be part of a broader plan to dismantle iTunes.

Swift Playgrounds to Integrate with Real-World Devices

Apple announced in a press release today that its Swift Playgrounds app for iPad would soon be able to connect with and control real-world devices.

Apple is working with leading device makers to make it easy to connect to Bluetooth-enabled robots within the Swift Playgrounds app, allowing kids to program and control popular devices, including LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3, the Sphero SPRK+, Parrot drones and more. The Swift Playgrounds 1.5 update will be available as a free download on the App Store beginning Monday, June 5.

Since the primary purpose of Swift Playgrounds is education, today's announcement serves as a solid next step toward making coding fun and interesting for children. And the timing is fitting too. Expanding the capabilities of Swift Playgrounds with a 1.5 update Monday is a perfect kickoff to Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, where the app was first introduced last year.


Apple Introduces Swift Curriculum for High School and Community College Students

Apple introduced a new year-long app development curriculum today for community college and high school students that is available as a special collection on the iBooks Store. The free-to-download course, which is an extension of Apple’s existing Everyone Can Code curriculum for kids in grades K-12, teaches students how to build fully-functional apps using the Swift programming language. In the fall, six community college systems that serve over 500,000 students will offer the new course.

Tim Cook explained why Apple has created the development course:

“We’ve seen firsthand the impact that coding has on individuals and the US economy as a whole. The app economy and software development are among the fastest-growing job sectors in America and we’re thrilled to be providing educators and students with the tools to learn coding,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Community colleges play a critical role in helping students achieve their dreams, and we hope these courses will open doors for people of all ages and backgrounds to pursue what they love.”

Swift Playgrounds has proven to be a powerful teaching tool with over 1 million downloads since it was introduced. In addition, over 1,000 schools in the US plan to teach using Apple’s Everyone Can Code materials in the fall. The extension of Everyone Can Code to older students should make the entire program even more attractive to educators than before.