Apple, ConnectED Combine on Coding Education

(Photo: Wikimedia, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Wikimedia, Creative Commons)

Apple recently announced the Everyone Can Code initiative, which provides curriculum so that kids can learn how to code — and the program also aligns with the White House’s ConnectED initiative.

According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, the company is donating an iPad and Mac to more than 4,500 teachers, giving iPads to more than 50,000 students, and giving an Apple TV to each of the 114 ConnectED schools.

Cook said:

“We’ve always believed that education is a great equalizer. It’s a powerful force of change for good and we’ve always believed that our products could have a tremendous positive impact on teachers and students. But we are keenly aware that not every school can have this impact. And that’s why we are so deeply committed to ConnectED.”

The ConnectED donations are already making a difference. Michele Dawson, the Senior Director of Instructional Technology for the Compton school district, said:

“I’ve seen special ed students that weren’t able to write or speak very well making videos and using iPads to express themselves.”

According to Chantel McGee of the Daily Dot, she witnessed other students benefit as well.

We have seen attendance shoot up. We’ve seen kids who weren’t very interested in school become fully engaged, and now those same kids want to go to our Saturday program to use iPads.”

In one school, Walton Middle School, the principal created a policy wherein students can only sign out iPads for the day if they are present for first period, thereby increasing attendance. Principal RoseMarie Hickman’s goal is 98% attendance.

The program will use Apple’s own coding language, called Swift, and use the Swift Playgrounds app that was released in June. The Swift Playgrounds app combines real-world coding scenarios to teach students how to code. Beginning September 13th, Swift Playgrounds became free for all iPad users that have iOS 10.

More than 100 schools will be teaching Swift this school year, reports Sri Ravipati of THE Journal. Universities are also offering Swift-based coursework.

The company also launched a program for teachers to learn how to effectively use Apple products. Educators who sign up for the program can receive product tips, stories, educational apps, and other materials. If they complete quizzes, they can receive an official Apple Teacher logo.

Apple, with its announcement of involvement with the ConnectED initiative, pledged $100 million to 114 schools in underserved areas.

The ConnectED national initiative brings the government and tech companies together to bring technology to underserved schools. The aim of the program is to bring high-speed broadband to 99% of classrooms by 2018.

The Swift programming language has been gaining popularity in the development community because of its small learning curve and easy syntax, reports Cory Bohon of Tech Republic.

To learn more about Apple and ConnectED, visit the program’s website.