By Chand Bellur
July 12, 2020 at 5:45 p.m. PT
- Educational programs, such as Develop in Swift and Everyone Can Code, enable students to learn software development online and in the classroom.
- Apple now offers training for educators interested in teaching software development.
- Providing free educational resources helps promote Apple products and breeds a whole new generation of loyal software developers.
Apple Expands Coding Education for Students
Apple has long fostered ties between educators, students, and their technology. I learned LOGO on an Apple III computer back in third grade. Indeed, most people of my generation’s primary exposure to Apple products was through educational institutions. Steve Jobs correctly realized that teaching the Apple way to students would produce loyal customers and developers.
Apple’s Swift programming language, now over six years old, allows both novice and experienced developers to create apps for the entire Apple ecosystem. Like Java and other newer programming languages, Swift doesn’t require the developer to manage memory explicitly. This, and other advancements make Swift one of the easiest programming languages to master. Unlike Java, Swift applications compile to machine language, for fast performance. They don’t run in a virtual machine.
Doubling down on Swift, Apple recently enhanced two of its educational programs — Develop in Swift and Everyone Can Code. Develop in Swift is aimed at high school and college students, while Everyone Can Code focuses on fourth through eighth-graders.
Apple introduced three new electronic textbooks for its Develop in Swift program. The books tackle simple to somewhat complex subjects in computer science. They’ve even published a book for AP Computer Science classes. Apple will launch another new book about data collections in the fall.
Everyone Can Code also benefits from new textbooks. Apple recently published two new textbooks designed for primary and middle school students — Everyone Can Code Adventures and Everyone Can Code Puzzles. The latter book is for beginners, while the former caters to those who have completed the first title.
In addition to new textbooks, Apple recently launched a new Learning From Home website. The site offers more coding challenges to improve software engineering skills.
Apple Develops Training Program for Computer Science Teachers
There’s a shortage of computer science educators in the United States. Less than 50% of K-12 schools offer computer science education. Furthermore, many colleges don’t have enough professors and lecturers to accommodate computer science students.
Apple relies on computer science, electrical engineering, and applied math graduates to develop apps. Without adequately trained educators, the future of software development is bleak.
For these reasons, Apple has taken on the duty of training the educators. The Cupertino tech company recently published a teachers’ guide for their Develop in Swift program. They have also developed a free, online training course for computer science educators.
The reality is, most people who know how to code prefer to make money developing apps. Teachers don’t receive adequate compensation for their work. Perhaps the next step for Apple, although extreme, may be to offer stipends for Apple-certified computer science educators. Otherwise, the best developers will almost always choose to reap the rewards of their education, rather than teach.
Apple’s Educational Initiative is a Clever Strategy
One of the best ways to gain market share is to educate students on products. Swift is a programming language, but it’s also a suite of products. By familiarizing students and teachers with Swift, they’re more likely to buy Apple products and develop software for the ecosystem.
Apple isn’t the only company that does this; however, they seem to do it better than others. Some coding sessions take place at brick and mortar Apple stores throughout the world. Other tech companies simply don’t have the infrastructure to compete with Apple.
Apple’s relationship with educators spans over 40 years. As this partnership grows, Apple becomes more of a fixture in classrooms and homes throughout the world. It’s a clever strategy, leveraging both virtual instruction and their network of retail outlets across the globe. This winning strategy should maintain both Apple’s bottom line and relevance for decades to come.