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Posts tagged with "education"

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


App Camp for Girls is Coming to Chicago

App Camp for Girls is making a big jump geographically this summer. The camp for middle schoolers who self-identify as female, trans (regardless of identity), or gender non-conforming, was founded in 2013 by Jean MacDonald and Grey Osten in Portland, Oregon to address the gender imbalance in technology professions. Since then, App Camp has started camps in other cities including Seattle and Phoenix, but the debut of a camp in Chicago, Illinois this summer marks the first time a camp has been held east of the Mississippi River.

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Marshmallow Run Kickstarter Seeks to Teach Girls Programming and Design

Design Code Build and Girl Scouts San Diego are developing a curriculum to teach girls programming and design by building a game called Marshmallow Run. It’s an ambitious program to bring Marshmallow Run to life through Scratch, the web, iOS, and Android as a way to reach girls of all age levels and provide opportunities that will appeal to a wide variety of interests. To make the program a reality, Design Code Build and Girl Scouts San Diego launched a Kickstarter campaign to cover the cost of computers, meeting space, developer accounts, and other overhead.

What’s unique about the Marshmallow Run campaign is its breadth. The project isn’t constrained by the programming platform chosen or other structural decisions that might limit its appeal. Design Code Build has developed the characters for Marshmallow Run, but the rest is up to the girls who participate in the program. The participants will have the opportunity to learn to program physics into a game, design levels, set timers, detect collisions, along with everything else that programming a platformer game entails. Girls will also learn graphic design, storyboarding, audio design, and much more. The result is a curriculum designed to foster imagination and creativity in a fun way that teaches new skills.

The project’s campaign has just 3 days left to reach its goal of $25,000. As of publication, pledges are just over 50% of that goal. If Marshmallow Run is funded, backers will receive a variety of rewards depending on their pledge levels including stickers and t-shirts, but the reward that’s most interesting is a programming starter pack for backers who pledge just $25. The starter pack includes character sprites and other game elements for building Marshmallow Run in Scratch. At higher pledge levels backers receive beta access to the web and mobile versions of the game. The starter pack and access to the betas are a terrific way that Design Code Build and Girl Scouts San Diego are sharing what they hope to create beyond their local community.

I have three boys and have experienced the frustration of trying to find opportunities for them when they wanted to learn to program. There just aren’t enough good programs available for kids in general, and even fewer for girls. Marshmallow Run is a chance to start fixing that, foster the next generation of programmers and designers, and make a difference in addressing the gender imbalance in tech fields.

If you want to make a pledge, you can do so on the Marshmallow Run Kickstarter page.


Creating Robots on an iPad

Great story by Christina Warren at Mashable on how the iPad is being used to teach interactive problem solving in a fun, new way:

I’m sitting on the floor at The Academy of Talented Scholars (PS 682) in Bensonhurst, watching kindergarteners create robots on an iPad.

It’s one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen, and I don’t even like children.

The exercise is part of the curriculum led by co-teachers Stacy Butsikares and Allison Bookbinder, focused on helping the 5- and 6-year-old students come up with ways to solve problems.

I often wish I had an iPad when I was in elementary school 20 years ago.

In the same story, Christina focuses on the Hopscotch programming app and kids who grow up using it:

So what happens after kids master Hopscotch? Do they continue coding? Conrad says that the team receives fan mail all the time (something she calls “really gratifying”) from kids who have parlayed their experience with Hopscotch into learning other languages too.

I wonder what Apple thinks of teaching Swift to a new generation of programmers on an iPad.

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Apple Classroom First Impressions

Fraser Speirs:

Yesterday, I got Apple Classroom up and running at school thanks to the release of Casper 9.9, which supports the new features of iOS 9.3. Here are some early impressions. I'll mostly focus on the technology and how well it works, rather than how effective it is for teaching since I've only had a day or so to play with it.

There are some missing features and issues in this first release (low frame rate for screen monitoring or the use of Bluetooth, for instance), but it sounds like Apple shipped a solid foundation for Classroom on iOS 9.3.

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