Book your Kid’s Session Now: Autumn 2018 Learn to Code Classes Live

We’re live with the latest Learn to Code classes for Autumn 2018!

Book your session now!

The first session will run from September 4th to the 25th, and the second will run from the 2nd of October until the 23rd. The classes are at the Mounttown Community Centre in Dún Laoghaire and take place from 6-8pm.

I hope to see your young coders-in-training there!

Book now for September or book now for October.


Authoring Swift Playgrounds Subscription Feeds

WARNING: Technical content ahead. This one is for those people monkeying around with their own Swift Playgrounds for teaching or just for fun. 

If you, like me, author Swift Playgrounds, you might want to use Apple’s new subscription format to distribute your playgrounds to people. You can visit on an iPad and our first three playgrounds will show up on your device.

Subscribing to Playgrounds
Subscribing to Playgrounds

There are some great tutorials and tips for writing playgrounds out there (Andy Shep has some excellent advice on the subject). In the future I’ll go into how I made the Code Hub Swift Playgrounds, but for now, I have a tip for debugging the feed format.

Creating (and Debugging) a Swift Playground Subscription

With the latest version of Swift Playgrounds, you can create a feed so that your content shows up in the list of playgrounds available to run. That link will give you a bit of insight into the nitty gritty of how you need to format your feed, but for a really clear walk-through it’s worth watching the “Creating Your Own Swift Playground Subscription” session from WWDC this year.

All of which I did, but I really struggled with a feed that just wouldn’t work and presented me with a very generic failure message. So I filed a bug with and waited. In the latest version of Swift Playgrounds you can now go to the preferences for the app (through the System Preferences app) and toggle this little switch:

Authoring Debug Mode
Authoring Debug Mode!

Suddenly I was getting far more useful error messages like this:

Ah ha!
Ah ha!

And that was it! Now, you want to make sure you read through all the keys and acceptable values in the feed format closely. There are quite specific sizes for your thumbnail, preview, and banner images. The content identifier, version, and name in your Manifest.plist must match the values you put in the feed.

The Manifest.plist
The Manifest.plist

But once you’ve taken care of the details, it’ll be a piece of cake for people to install your playgrounds.


A Wrap on the Inaugural Learn to Code Classes, Spring 2018

Today’s the final day for our second session of Learn to Code this spring.

Parting thoughts: Learn to code
Parting thoughts

We’ve had two sessions of 10 kids each, with a variety of programming backgrounds, and ages from 7-12.

I’ll have a longer write-up on the class and the future of The Code Hub, but the quick take is that it’s been a blast. The combo of Apple’s Everyone Can Code curriculum with some of my own and a healthy dose of offline activities has worked well. The Mounttown Community Facility has been an amazing venue to host the classes.

More to come…

The Education Panel from the Digital Citizenship Summit Ireland

As I mentioned, I was at the Digital Citizenship Summit Ireland in April. The guys posted the video from the education panel, and if you have twenty minutes or so, you can watch us talk about digital citizenship in education.

My co-panelists and our moderator all had fascinating takes on the topic of being a digital citizen in the context of education and what it meant to each of them. I loved getting the perspective of a secondary school student, third level student (who ran that morning’s CoderDojo session), and a secondary school teacher who loves connecting schools from different locales, thanks to our digital connections.

DigCitSummit Ireland: Becoming a Digital Citizen in Education

It’s short notice, but if you’re in and around Dublin city center today I’ll be on a panel about Digital Citizenship in education at the Digital Citizenship Summit Ireland

Education Panel at the Digital Citizenship Summit Ireland
Education Panel at the Digital Citizenship Summit Ireland

We’ll be there in the Paccar Theatre at the Science Gallery Dublin from 12:15-12:40. See you there!

Learn to Code, the May Session — SOLD OUT

Sold out!
Sold out!

This is becoming a bit of a habit. Instead of being able to tout the brand new session of Learn to Code for May 2018, it turns out it, too, has sold out within a few minutes of me spreading the word.

Of course, I’m excited about the enthusiasm, but it seems like I’m going to have to start finding extra hours in the day to run some more classes to bring some of Apple’s Everyone Can Code curriculum as well as my own to the kids of South Dublin…

As before, if you or your kids, ideally aged 9-12, want to attend a future Learn to Code class with me, drop by the contact form to let me know and I can make sure you’re amongst the first to hear about any new sessions.

Ready and waiting for the students...
Ready and waiting for the students…

What is Computer Science?

You might think computer science is all about algorithms, arcane commands, and learning to think like a computer.

Learn to Code @ The Code Hub
Learn to Code @ The Code Hub

Doug Winnie touches on a lot of these points with his article “Why You Need to Know More Than Coding to Master Computer Science”; computer science is far more than just coding.

I agree with him. Computer science and the way I teach it at The Code Hub is all about opening up new possibilities for the students. This includes Doug’s touchstones of creativity, abstraction, data, algorithms, programming, devices, and even global impact.

One of my favorite moments in the class is when a student inevitably asks the question, “Hang on a sec, can I write a game like <name the game of the moment> with code like this?” That’s usually the moment the kid applies the stuff they’ve learned thus far to their own creative endeavors.

Digital Summit Ireland

Along those lines, Learning Tech Labs is hosting the Digital Citizen Summit at the beautiful Science Gallery Dublin on April 28th. It’s designed to explore the human connections we can build online and what that means for how we behave online.

So if you’re interested in the world in which our kids are growing up, it’s worth your while checking out the summit (it’s free!). I think it’ll be an interesting discussion for kids and adults alike.

Learn to Code Starting April 3rd 2018 in Dun Laoghaire — SOLD OUT!

I was all ready to post an article about the class I’m running at the Mounttown Community Facility in Dún Laoghaire, but it SOLD OUT IN TWO HOURS. Drop us a note if you want to get notified when the next class is scheduled.

The Launch of Learn to Code in Ireland

The Code Hub

The inaugural Learn to Code class starts on April 3rd and runs for five Tuesdays (until the 1st of May). It’s from 6pm-8pm in the evening at the Mounttown Community Facility and is for kids ages 8-12.
We start with offline activities to teach the kids language and logic they need to use to talk to computers. We’ll dissect a few devices (a Raspberry Pi, an Apple Watch) to see what makes them tick, what makes them the same, in some ways, under the hood.
After that basic introduction, we jump into coding on iPads, which are provided. We program in Swift, which is the same language app developers can use to make iPhone and iPad apps. We’ll use a thing called turtle graphics. I’ve brought a version of this tool to the iPad. The ideas behind turtle graphics came out of some interesting work Seymour Papert and Cynthia Solomon did, which they wrote about in a book called Mindstorms: Children, Computers, And Powerful Ideas. It lets kids relate geometric concepts to real life movement and coding at the same time. It’s done in a way that lets them quickly build and explore on their own.
Turtle Graphics on the iPad
Turtle Graphics in action on the iPad

We progress onto more complex computer programming concepts and go into stuff like programming robots (I have two of these very cool robots from Sphero called SPRK+). We explore augmented reality, where they can drop a 3D fox into a real life environment. And then we check out some really cool programming with material from a colleague of mine that plots the voyage of the Titanic, famous battles in Ireland, and an augmented reality challenge that uses characters from Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach.

So if that sounds interesting to your son or daughter, you can go sign up here:*
* Of course, the class is sold out, so you can’t sign up at the moment. Contact me and I’ll drop you a line when the next set of classes is scheduled.