Event introduced teachers and school managers to Apple's Swift Playgrounds
School managers and coordinators from the South of Brazil took part in the event Everyone Can Code Road Show, on Aug 25, at the School of Computer Science of PUCRS (Facin). The event introduced the public to Everyone Can code, a coding app run by Apple at no charge, for Elementary, Middle and High School students. The meeting was intended to disseminate the programming concepts so that they can be incorporated into teaching practices in class.
Swift Playgrounds, a student-friendly tool used for teaching, is available for download at no charge. The workshop delivered at PUCRS was headed by Facin professor, Afonso Sales, who has been awarded with the prize Apple Distinguished Educator, a recognition granted to processors employing Apple solutions in their class. “There is a strong trend that children will be learning programming since the very beginning in their schools, in the near future”, claims Sales.
Interaction with teachers
In addition to showing the new programming solutions, accessible to teachers with different levels of proficiency in information technology, the event brought the participants together as they could put the things they learned in practice. Some Marist Network teachers had the chance to attend the event. Josy Rocha, Mathematics teacher at Colégio Marista Ipanema, deemed it as “a wonderful experience since it brings students’ iPhones and iPads to class. To use free apps and make use of programming to teach Mathematics in a different way is very productive”, says she.
Saulo Caetano, Robotics teacher at Colégio Marista Rosário, said there are ongoing projects underway. “We’re trying to put together a computational thinking workshop, which is something totally different from Robotics, to be offered to students at no charge after school hours. It began 3 months ago and there have been 73 applicants for 20 seats. The program is open to 9th year Middle school students and 1st year High school students. Students are very interested in it so much so that even 5th graders wanted to know more about it. The training session we were offered on Friday complemented the actions we were working on. We rely on an iPad park in school which we could use by employing [Everyone Can Code]”, says he.
For professor Silvio Langer, coordinator of the Department for Planning and Control of the Marist Network, the technology presented is in line with the pedagogical plan in effect at the school. “Our schools are somehow equipped with this form of technology, either in the form of robotics projects or computational thinking ones. The support provided for teacher training may make it look like something other than technology, as we need to get them engaged and, most importantly, develop abilities and competences in line with our pedagogical plan, for which this program may make a difference for learning”, claims he.
The training program
A native of the Northeast of Brazil, Antônio Ferro, is an Apple Distinguished Educator and was responsible for delivering the training session for teachers from the South of Brazil, at PUCRS, in Porto Alegre. He gives more details about Everyone Can Code and its purposes.
What is it like to teach programming to teachers and make them understand that it is not difficult?
It has been fantastic because coding is today a skill needed for the 21st century. Including it in regular schools will lead to a high quality education in the coming future. We are aware of how involved the teachers are and we believe that it can grow.
Is it possible to bring together both the pedagogical and teaching ideas into the proposal presented in this roadshow?
Everyone Can Code includes both pedagogical and teaching practices. Teachers will receive all kind of support to develop it in their classrooms. Those teachers who never thought about working with coding will also have the chance, although they might not know how to program. This is what makes it different. Apple technologies have made things a lot easier.
What are the minimum requirements for teachers to take part in the program?
There are no requirements established for Everyone Can Code and Swift Playground for Elementary and Middle School teachers. The only thing a teacher will need is an iPad. On the other hand, users of Xcode, which is a Swift project for High School, need to know the basics of programming. But let’s imagine that a teacher starts working on Swift Playground today. Soon we will see that they will be able to use Xcode very easily.
What are these training sessions, this roadshow in Brazil, intended for?
The idea is to implement Everyone Can Code in Brazilian schools. This is now a successful reality in the USA and Mexico. Brazil is the third country to be offered the program. School actions are very important so that Apple can give them the necessary support to put them in practice.
What about the results in Mexico, since its reality is very similar to that of Brazil?
Mexico has shown fantastic results. In Mexico City, as many as 80% of schools that make use of iPads are using Everyone Can Code. It has been very successful although it was initially released in English, just like here in Brazil. Despite that, the project took off. Now, it is going to be released in Spanish and, in the future, the Portuguese version will arrive in Brazil. We believe it will produce very positive results in the near future.