Apple Launches App Development Curriculum for U.S. High School and College Students

Apple today announced a new app development curriculum designed for students who want to pursue careers in the fast-growing app economy. The curriculum comes as a free download from the iBooks Store.

Called "App Development with Swift", the full-year course aims to teach students the elements of app design using Swift, Apple's increasingly popular programming languages. Apple said students who undertake the course will learn to code and design fully functioning apps, gaining critical job skills in software development and information technology in the process.


Beginning in the fall, six community college systems serving nearly 500,000 students across the United States will be among the first to offer the curriculum, according to Apple. Participating colleges include the Alabama Community College System, Columbus State Community College, Harrisburg Area Community College, Houston Community College, Mesa Community College, and San Mateo Community College District.
"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."
Since its launch in 2014, Swift has been consistently promoted by Apple as ideal for kids who are keen to code, with its gentle learning curve demonstrated in Swift Playgrounds, an app that teaches children how to use the language. The new curriculum includes a comprehensive student guide with playground exercises, mini projects and quizzes, as well as a teachers guide with grading rubrics, solutions code and Keynote presentations.

Swift has become one of the most sought-after skills for freelance developers, experiencing more than 200 percent year-on-year growth, according to one study.

Earlier this month, Apple announced the creation of a $1 billion Advanced Manufacturing Fund focused on creating jobs in the US throughout its supply chain. Apple said the new Swift coding curriculum is another example of its commitment to economic development and will help create even more career opportunities for students across the country.


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iTunes U App Gains Image Annotation Tools, Video Message Sharing Support

Apple yesterday updated its iTunes U education app with some notable new annotation and media sharing features.

In an extension of iTunes U's markup support, which was previously limited to PDF documents, version 3.5 of the app now enables users to apply visual notes to image files using the same annotation toolset.


Elsewhere, video messages can now be shared between teachers and students, while the ability to open audio and video files in other apps has also been included.

The update comes on the heels of changes earlier this week to Apple's Classroom app, which lets teachers set up iPads for educational settings. That update gave educators the ability to create classes manually and send invitation codes to students for them to join, as well as extending classroom file sharing options with AirDrop support.

iTunes U is a free download for iPad and iPhone available on the App Store. [Direct Link]


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Apple Losing Out to Microsoft and Google in U.S. Classrooms

Use of iPads and MacBooks in U.S. schools hit a new low last year, with Apple struggling to make further inroads into the education sector, according to new figures (via The New York Times).

According to research company Futuresource Consulting, in 2016 the number of devices in American classrooms that run iOS and macOS fell to third place behind both Google-powered laptops and Windows devices.


Out of 12.6 million mobile devices shipped to primary and secondary schools in the U.S., Chromebooks accounted for 58 percent of the market, up from 50 percent in 2015. Meanwhile, school shipments of iPads and Mac laptops fell to 19 percent, from about 25 percent, over the same period, while Microsoft Windows laptops and tablets stayed relatively stable at about 22 percent.
At an operating system level, Chromebooks continue to gain market share, reaching 58% in 2016, up from 50% in 2015. The strong combination of affordable devices, productivity tools via G-Suite, easy integration with third party platforms/tools, task management/distribution via Google Classroom and easy device management remains extremely popular with US teachers and IT buyers alike. The rise of Chromebooks has also set new industry benchmarks with regards to average device pricing, with prices reaching as low as $120 on certain projects.
Apple attempted to outmaneuver its education rivals in 2016, announcing its Classroom app, Swift Playgrounds, and a number of other major education-focused feature updates in iOS 9.3, including the ability to share iPads. Microsoft also made significant developments in 2016, including the launch of Microsoft Classroom, 'School Data sSync', and several integrations with popular third party solutions.

This surge in competition has dented Apple's education revenue stream, according to research firm IDC. Of the $7.35 billion that schools, colleges and universities spent on mobile and desktop computers in 2016, sales of Apple devices fell to $2.8 billion, down from $3.2 billion in 2015.

Apple's iPad first lost its lead over Google's line of Chromebook laptops in 2014. Analysts at the time said the swing in fortunes for Google's Chromebooks could be attributed to their low cost, which starts at $199 for some models.

"At the end of the day, I can get three Chromebooks for each of the Mac devices I would have purchased," said Steve Splichal, the superintendent of Eudora Public Schools, speaking to The New York Times. He added that Eudora students continued to use MacBooks for certain creative courses and that first graders and younger students still used iPads.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has previously made light of Chromebooks' increased popularity in the classroom by calling them "test machines", referring to schools' need for cheap devices for mass computerized testing purposes.

However, Cupertino is not interested in advancing testing. Cook said in 2015 that Apple is interested in "helping students learn and teachers teach, but tests, no."

Tag: education

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School district removes ‘Huckleberry Finn’ after complaint over racial slurs

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To Kill a Mockingbird and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn have been temporarily removed from some Virginia schools for racial slurs — a decision some are condemning as censorship.

Copies of the classic American novels have been lifted from the shelves of classrooms and libraries across a school district in Accomack County, Virginia, according to The Washington Post. While the books are already gone, the school district still has to decide whether it’s going to permanently ban them.

“We have a committee looking at all of this,” Chris Holland, district superintendent, told Delmarva Now. “There’s been no recommendation right now.” Read more…

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Trump’s victory is driving the youth of America to fight back

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Protesters have continuously marched and shouted in streets across the United States since the election of Donald Trump on Nov. 8, and, if you look closely at the faces of many of these protesters, you’ll realize just how young some of them are. 

Demonstrations have popped up at colleges and high schools across the country. Pick a school — Rutgers University, the University of Southern California, New York University, and many others — or pick a city with high school students — Miami, Des Moines, Washington, D.C., and many more — and you’ll find a recent demonstration against what the United States may look like under Trump.  Read more…

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