What is Swift Playgrounds?
Swift Playgrounds is a free app that runs on iPad, as long as that iPad is running iOS 10 or later. It’s such a large and powerful programming app that it needs the power of an iPad to run. This is why you can’t get it on a Chromebook and why it is not web-based.
What makes Swift Playgrounds special?
- It will help your students bridge the gap from block based coding to real programming. Working with block based programming tools like Blockly and Scratch is a great way to get started, but how do kids learn to write actual lines of code? Swift Playgrounds is designed to solve that problem. Users can tap on lines of code and drop them into the project or use a keyboard to actually type out commands.
- Swift Playgrounds is a modern programming language designed to be simple and intuitive yet powerful. You can develop an app completely on iPad using Swift Playground except for the final step of preparing the app for the app store using XCode.
- Swift Playgrounds works on both an iPad and Mac. With Swift Playgrounds, you can start a project on iPad and transition to using a Mac.
How to get Started
In Swift Playgrounds you can develop your own Playgrounds from a template (I found this too hard for me at this stage) or you can interact with pre-made Playbooks. Start by downloading Learn to Code 1, 2 and 3. Each one is a series of puzzles that you need to solve using lines of Swift code. The objective is to get Byte or one of the other avatars to move through a 3D world to collect gems, toggle switches and more.
You and your students will learn:
“the fundamentals of Swift, the programming language used to create apps for Apple products.”
Fun fact: I’m working through Learn to Code 1 and I have completed all the puzzles for the following computer science concepts: Commands, Functions, and For Loops. Next up: Conditional Code.
Are there lessons and resources?
Puzzles are grouped by computer science (CS) concepts such as Commands, Logical Operators and Conditionals. At the beginning of each set of puzzles there is a mini lesson explaining to the user the CS concept. In addition, there are free Teacher Guides and an iTunes Course that include complete lessons, videos and Keynote slides to help teachers guide students through learning computer science concepts in Swift Playgrounds. The Teacher Guides also include all the solutions to the puzzles.
The Learn to Code 3 Teacher Guide has just been released too:
Hour of Code
There is also a Facilitator’s Guide for the Hour of Code:
What do students say?
I ran a Swift Playgrounds coding club for 8 weeks and here is what some of my students had to say about learning with Swift Playgrounds:
What else can you do in Swift Playgrounds?
If you know about Tickle then you already know that you can use other apps to program robots and smart-toys. Just like Tickle, Swift Playgrounds can be used to interact and program robots. Wonder Workshop, the makers of Dash, have created a Playbook that works with Dash called Dashbook. Read about and download the Playbook here. Below is a screen shot of what the Dashbook looks like:
This is one of the activities I will be doing this week with my class to celebrate Computer Science week which is December 5-9 2016.
Going even Deeper with Swift