Apple is bringing its Hour of Code initiative back, and extending the learning to its new Swift Playgrounds app.
From December 5 through 11 (Computer Science education week, naturally), Apple stores across the world will host a free hour-long introduction to coding. The company is again partnering with code.org for the initiative.
“Hour of Code embodies our vision for Apple stores as a place for the community to gather, learn and be entertained,” said Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s senior vice president of Retail. “We’re proud to introduce the Swift Playgrounds app into the workshops and honored to again work side-by-side with Code.org on this incredibly important initiative. Hour of Code is one of the absolute highlights of the year for both our teams and the families that visit our stores.”
Apple’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi added: “Coding is just like any language, the earlier you’re exposed the more successful you’ll be. Whether at an Apple Store, in a classroom, or at home with an iPad, Swift Playgrounds brings real coding concepts to life and empowers the next generation with the skills they need to express their creativity.”
The company also says it has tools for those who want to extend the learning into community centers or elsewhere kids may gather, such as schools. The Swift Playgrounds app has a customizable ‘Hour of Code challenge’ for those efforts, a new ‘Learn to Code 3’ area in the Swift Playgrounds for educators and a companion teacher’s guide available via the Apple Teacher platform.
Apple is only one facet of the program, though. Spearheaded by Code.org, Hour of Code has events all over the globe during the week of December 5 (typically hosted at schools and libraries). It claims the programs reaches “tens of millions of students” in 180 countries, and has tools and tips for those interested in hosting an event.
Code.org hosts its lessons in perpetuity on its site so you can continue learning after the 60 minutes are up. To keep kids engaged on their level, there are themed lessons. You can program new creatures in a “Minecraft” environment, for example, or a digital droid for “Star Wars.” Disney lends its “Frozen” franchise to the cause as well, or kids can learn to create their own “Flappy Bird” clone (please don’t, kids).
Aimed at kids, Hour of Code is open to all. What used to be plopping kids down in front of a terminal to hack out some basic code is now morphing into a full-fledged mobile experience. It’s a smart move, too; the Swift Playgrounds app is a much better way to learn the concepts of coding, and will likely help demystify things that may confuse kids about writing code.
Apple hasn’t yet mentioned any Featured Events, but 2015 brought some lectures from known developers to Apple Stores at various metro locations. We’d expect that to be the case this year, as well, but we’ll have to wait and see where (and when) those events may happen.
If you’re interested in an Hour of Code near you, it’s best to check with your local Apple Store for details on when it plans to host one.