WWDC21 Dates Announced!

Update: Due to the due date for submissions for the Swift Student Challenge, the live sessions will likely be the week of the 12th of April. See you then!

It looks like you’ll have another set of dates to block off on your calendar in June, in addition to the ones I told you about last time!

Apple has just announced that WWDC, their Worldwide Developer Conference, will be held online from the 7th to the 11th of June this year!

Details are scarce right now, other than the dates, as per usual, but there’s plenty of info about the Swift Student Challenge!

If you’re 16 years of age, here in Europe, 13 in the States, you can submit your playground to show off your skills with Swift. Last year we ran a lot of sessions talking about the Swift Student Challenge. If you’re curious, you’ll find it in the AR sessions.

#SwiftStudentChallenge

It’s just the nugget of an idea, but in late April and May I’m planning on returning to the live stream. We’ll work on some ideas for Swift Playgrounds that you (or your students) could use.

As I’ve only just had the idea of kicking it off, I’m still thinking through the content and format, but we can certainly show off some of the fun stuff you can do with Playgrounds.

If you’re a teacher, feel free to join the Teaching Swift Slack and drop me a note and maybe we can have your class on to talk about ideas for the Swift Student Challenge.

If you’re a student or you don’t want to join yet another discussion board, shoot me a note. I’d love to hear what people have planned or help you get started!

I’m always inspired by the work put in by these students, and would love to help more people strut their stuff.

Watch this space for more news and when we’ll be broadcasting, but it should be a lot of fun!

Develop All Around – Get Active!

Develop in Swift, all week, every day next week!

I’m busy putting the finishing touches on our Teaching Develop in Swift Online class for next week. It promises to be a week full of Swift coding and app prototyping that you’ll be able to use in your classroom to teach people how to code.

I’m so excited, and if you’re joining us, I hope you are, too.

All Around Skills

But I was reminded this week of how much we’re all sitting in front of these screens, all day, nearly every day. I have two teenagers in secondary school here in Ireland. Their schools are doing an amazing job keeping them learning during these difficult times, but it is a looooooong day in front of an iPad or laptop.

We’ll have the same scenario next week, with our instructors: it’s a lot of hours in front of a screen.

Now, in addition to coding, I love working out, whether it’s playing a sport or exercising to feel more fit.

And during lockdown and before, I work out with a trainer in Ireland named Dominic Munnelly.

If you’re looking to make sure you’re developing all your skills, physical as well as mental, you could do a lot worse than working out with him every Monday and Wednesday at 7pm, Irish time. Catch him on his Instagram channel live or watch it back later at your leisure.

Dom’s not paying me to say this, and his sessions on Instagram are free. Even though they say they’re for kids they’re challenging enough for any of us who have been sitting down all day at a computer or device.

You’ll find a good mix of moving your body, a little bit of strength work, and some mobility, to make sure you’re flexible and fit for life, not just for today.

Others

Of course, you might have your favorite workout routine. There’s Joe Wicks and his video series, Swim Ireland are holding live online workouts, Sport Ireland have some awesome family workouts, too.

Just getting away from the screen for a little bit each day will help you clear your mind, shake out the cobwebs, and hopefully improve your mood. The thing I love about all the people I’ve linked above is that they don’t push you past your limits. They all have a sensible approach to getting and keeping fit.

This is just a public service announcement to make sure you’re taking care of yourself both mentally as well as physically.

And we’ll see you out there, coding!

Teaching Develop in Swift – March 2021 Edition

Are you a teacher who is trying to figure out how to teach coding, and app development in particular?

Are you a coder who feels like you could help people learn how to develop apps?

Does this feel like I’m leading you somewhere with all these questions?

Develop in Swift

Well, I am!

I’ll be running a week of intensive training in Teaching Develop in Swift Online with Apple in the first week of March.

Register (for free!) here: http://s.apple.com/dE5i4p0g8b

We’ll give you a pretty good look at the Develop in Swift curriculum, which is aimed at secondary school to university level students.

They’re a series of free e-books Apple has produced to introduce you to the world of coding using their programming language, Swift. It’s the same coding language folks use to write wildly popular apps for your iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and AppleTV.

Develop in Swift Explorations introduces coding in a broader context. It’s designed to reveal coding to those people who might have never considered all the places we experience code someone else has written. We’ll build some of the projects in this book each day, including the really fun QuestionBot. This will form the basis for a project you can run with your own class.

Develop in Swift Fundamentals is aimed at computer science students (though it’s not limited to them!). It’s like a traditional programming class with 3 more projects to build. We’ll also build these in class during the week. I love that this material teaches you Swift and how to build an app. It’s not just a matter of putting code in the right places, it’s about working with others, coming up with a plan for delivering something.

Develop in Swift Data Collections is the last in the series and covers even more advanced stuff to make your apps look amazing and do incredible stuff.

The Week

We’ll have lectures each day from the material, hands-on workshops on projects from the books in the morning. Some time in the middle to work on projects and get food. Then showcases and group discussions in the afternoon. Each day we’ve got special guests coming to talk to us about design, technical topics, or the books themselves.

It should be a ball, and we’ve got some fun, interactive elements planned for it.

So if you’re a coding teacher, a developer who wants to teach, or a teacher who wants to teach coding, come along with us!

Register (for free!) here: http://s.apple.com/dE5i4p0g8b

There’s still space, but not for much longer…

Middle Schoolers Exploring Coding

For those who aren’t as interested, they’re still going to be learning determination, perseverance and trial and error.

from the ReMarker, February 2021, “In a Growing Industry” by William Fitzpatrick Junior of St. Mark’s School of Texas
What is coding?

Issu had an interesting article from a middle school in Texas about the success of their coding program, which runs from fifth to eight grade. They equip their students with designated computer science teachers in all the grades, which is a huge leg up.

I think it’s a brilliant program they have for the kids, but my favorite piece of the article was the quote above. “For those who aren’t as interested.”

That’s a huge segment of the population. Those people who don’t know that much about coding, or maybe they do, and they find it’s just not for them (or don’t know if it’s for them or not).

In the Beginning

In the beginning of your coding career, whatever form that takes, you will likely find some use for coding that suits your needs. It’s how I started.

Where some people might thrill to solving puzzles for the sake of solving them, others may need a specific need met. This is why I love seeing the cross-curricular work that folks like Michael O’Kane, Giovanna Busconi, and Daniel Budd (and more) have put out there to teach coding under the auspices of history, or literature, or math. Maybe that’s how you started: you saw an application this skill in a field completely separate from computer science itself.

Explorations

Apple has an excellent curriculum designed for these sorts of folks: they might not fully get what coding is all about, but they use technology in their daily life, as most of us do, and could potentially benefit from another tool in their tool belt.

Develop in Swift Explorations: https://apple.co/developinswiftexplorations

It’s called Develop in Swift Explorations.

You need a Mac and Xcode 11 (at least), but this course will introduce you to coding in the context of your daily life: how the device you use, like your phone, uses coding and how much of our daily interactions rely on coding and processes we might not have even thought of!

Like Everyone Can Code and the other Develop in Swift books, it’s a self guided book with student resources to download which include labs. At the end of each lesson you have a lab to complete that will help you practice your new found skills.

Explorations for Teachers

If you’re a teacher who wants to try using this material with your students (it’s aimed at high school or university students), I’m running a free week-long session in March that might help.

We’ll cover the Explorations curriculum, as well as the Develop in Swift Fundamentals course. Fundamentals is more of a computer science course, but still a great introduction to coding. We take you through the books and get you familiar with the material and ways you can teach it.

You can register here: http://s.apple.com/dE5i4p0g8b

This is a golden opportunity to meet some amazing teachers and coders. We’ve had some incredibly diverse audiences in the past, and this time should be no different. But it’s also a chance to ask questions about the material, and how we teach perseverance and determination. It’s going to be intense, with lectures and workshops in the morning. Then we’ll have a bit of homework and some showcases, group discussions in the afternoon. You’ll get the chance to meet the instructors in smaller groups to ask pointed questions or just have a chat. And each evening we have a special guest of some stripe scheduled.

So if you’re a teacher, you’re more than welcome to come along with us! Sign up at the registration link above, make sure you have a Mac handy, and we’ll start you on your coding adventure.

If you have any questions, feel free to join our Teaching Swift Slack instance, where you can drop me a note.

I hope to see you the first week of March!

Quick Start to Coding at Home

We held some live coding sessions during EU Code Week 2020. They included unplugged activities, away from the iPad, and then a follow-along session of coding in various Swift Playgrounds.

Now, these sessions were a ton of fun in the classroom, but if you find yourself schooling at home again, like we are in Ireland, these sessions are great breaks from the regular school day. (Not to toot our own horn or anything!)

A bit of structure

There are ten sessions in the Quick Start to Code with Swift and we have ten pages that explain each day.

We have a short explanation of the day’s lesson, followed by an embedded video of that day’s recording. After the video we have an explanation (including what materials you need) for the unplugged session. The next section give you ideas about how to extend the lesson, if you found it really easy, or really enjoyed the coding. And the final section has code samples to help you solve that day’s puzzles. There’s even a handy copy link to copy the code and paste it into your Swift Playground, if you’re browsing the web pages on your iPad.

At Home

So if you’re a teacher, or a parent, or a student, the site will guide you through Apple’s excellent Quick Start to Code with Swift.

It’s not ideal, to be remote learning again, when I know our secondary school kids were loving being back in the classroom and back in some semblance of normality. But hopefully our EU Code Week content will keep you going and help change the pace a bit.

Maybe try jumping on a Zoom or WebEx call with your friends and work on your dance moves in the unplugged segments. Or arrange to all try the puzzles from a particular day. Sometimes it helps to talk through and work on the code for a shared problem.

What Comes Next

We have some ideas about where you can go next, once you’ve completed the quick start.

And we’ll be back, very soon, here, to guide you through some more coding. So have those iPads ready, brush up on your Swift, if you want, and we’ll see you again, really soon!

Diversity in Swift

Just recently, the Swift team announced a new effort to promote diversity in Swift.

As someone who tries to make sure people who want to learn how to code get the best introduction they can, I love this effort. We, as a software engineering community in general, can always use more voices and perspectives.

They have a great group of inspirational folks on the working group helping showcase diversity and bring aspects of coding to light that you might not otherwise consider.

Swan’s Quest and Accessibility

A great example of this is the Swan’s Quest session at the Worldwide Developer Conference this year: https://developer.apple.com/wwdc20/10681.

In that session they introduced us to a puzzle we solved by implementing accessibility for those folks who use the screen reader technology built into their iPads. We covered this session during our Coding at Home series.

It’s a nice reminder to us that we’re building software for more than just ourselves; there’s a whole raft of people out there who might benefit from the code we write.

Diversity in Thought

The other aspect I love about this effort is that it makes us aware of our different backgrounds and how much that can contribute to really interesting problems and solutions.

Where you’re coming from is not 100% the same as anyone else, so you always have something to contribute to the conversation… and can always learn from someone else’s experience.

This includes the great groups like Women in Swift and Black in Swift, but also other diverse voices.

Heck, I’m personally not super diverse, myself, but as a guy with an English degree in an engineering field I bring another perspective to the party (it’s not always useful, but I can tell you a story, anyway 😊).

Some of the best engineers I’ve ever worked with didn’t study computer science at university or college, but were art history majors, or geology Ph.Ds, or didn’t even go to university.

So I can’t wait to welcome you to our coding sessions, no matter your background, race, gender, or any other variation you can throw at us!

EU Code Week 2020: That’s a Wrap!

It has been a wild and woolly ride, but you can now watch all TEN days of A Quick Start to Code with Swift follow-along sessions!

Steve and I recorded the last few extra days and posted them a little earlier.

Follow-Along Coding Sessions

If you’re just coming to the party, the sessions run around 40 minutes or so and are designed to fit into a classroom period.

We wrote up some instructions and tips for holding a code-along session in your own classroom. Or maybe you want to trial this on your own kids at home. Well, we have instructions for running these sessions at home, too!

Structure

The extra sessions follow the same formula as the first five. We start off with a brief intro to the day’s topic. Then we show you a very cool ‘unplugged’ activity where we exercise the concepts for that day’s lesson. Once we’ve gotten everyone up out of their seats and moving, we gather back around the iPads and Swift Playgrounds for some coding.

On some days we had special guests, which always added an extra bit of excitement to the sessions, and I can’t thank the schools from Scotland, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, and Ireland enough for joining us!

Recap

You can view the entire series of videos on their own here: https://www.thecodehub.ie/eu-code-week-2020/playlist.html

And you can always prepare for each class by referring to our handy site, which contains added context, descriptions of what you need for the unplugged portion, and things you can do to challenge students who are blazing ahead.

I really had a blast coding along with you for ten days. Hopefully this has ignited a little spark for you. Coding is just another way of expressing ourselves, and we found an number of ways of doing that in these ten days. If you keep going, keep practicing, you’ll find all sorts of new ways to solve problems. And then who knows where it can take you?

The Ten

These are the ten sessions, for easy clicking:

A Quick Start to Code: Find Patterns

Steve and I are back with Earlston Primary School in Scotland to talk about finding patterns, from the Quick Start to Code with Swift PDF from Apple.

We talk a lot about finding patterns and turning those patterns we use repeatedly into functions. Find out more on our mini-site for our extended EU Code Week sessions.

What’s in a Function?

A function is a way to group a set of commands you’ve deemed useful enough that you want to re-use. So to write a function we need to think about what problem we’re trying to solve.

Your first pass may also not be your last! Often we’ll revisit code after solving a problem to see if we can improve on our original solution.

Unplugged

With Steve we work on turning left to turn right in the real world and we also play a game of “Dots.”

Come check out our session and get back to Swift Playgrounds with us!

https://www.thecodehub.ie/eu-code-week-2020/day2.html

EU Code Week: Going Further

So you’ve started your coding career, or maybe just progressed it a little. Now you’re looking for where else to go to learn coding.

Well, we have good news! We’ve taken a look at the other days in the Quick Start to Code with Swift PDF and are busy recording the next five days.

Five More Days!

You can check out newly beefed up mini-site for the focus of the new days.

We’ll be adding more details, especially around the unplugged segments, as the next few days go by. In the meantime, you can try your hand at the code for each day, as we have sample code, ideas for extending the material if you or your class is flying ahead, or you can learn more about the ideas behind the lesson.

When we’ve recorded the session we’ll post the video on the corresponding page so you can use it in class, just like our other days.

Going Even Further

But what if you’ve done all the extended ideas for the coding, all the unplugged sessions. You’re danced out and your brain is electrified with possibilities of coding!

Well, we have a Going Further page on the mini-site that will give you places to go, material to explore. From more Swift Playgrounds to other realms of coding, like Augmented Reality, to Xcode and building apps for iPhones and iPads and Macs, on Macs.

You’ve taken the first, very exciting steps in your coding career: where are you going to take it from here?