Apple's sleek new iPad app teaches kids to code
By Dana Villamagna
Common Sense Media
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Tap on "Learn
to Code 1 Fundamentals of Swift" to download the first lesson on Swift Playgrounds. Then tap "Open" and start the lesson, which begins with some veryday questions and discussion about the purpose of coding. Follow the onscreen instructions to tap already-written lines of code in the proper order to move the character, Byte, and make him collect a gem. Once complete, tap "Run My Code" to see if it works. If not, you can return to the code and re-do it, or tap on "Hint" to find out more.
Tap Next Page to go onto the next coding challenge.
Download more lessons and challenges, as desired.
Multiple users can keep their own progress in the app.
Also, there are customization options, recording, and
sharing for more advanced users.
IS IT ANY GOOD?
This play-to-learn app is an engaging, eye-pleasing, and easy way for tweens, teens, and adults to learn the programming language Swift. There's lots of help through clear instructions and hints that are available when a user gets stuck on a puzzle. The glossary of common coding terms gets kids up to speed on the lingo. Also, the ability to tap on snippets of real code cuts down on typing. For kids who can read well (the vocabulary ramps up as lessons progress), Swift Playgrounds will feel much more like free-flow fun than coding lessons. The only downside is that you need a new-ish iPad to use it, which may be a dealbreaker for those who can't afford to upgrade. Going beyond coding blocks, Swift Playgrounds is an exploratory, low-pressure way to learn Swift that feels like, well, a playground.
Device: iPad | Price: Free
Release date: 9/13/16
Category: Education | Publisher: Apple
Software requirements: iOS 10.0 or later
Rating: Recommended for ages 10 and older