This week I journeyed coast to coast from Washington, D.C. to San Francisco driven by the belief that everyone can learn to code well.
Culturally Responsive Humanoid Robotics for Girls
This week I presented our culturally responsive humanoid robotics research at the 5th Anniversary of the National Robotics Initiative for the Congressional Robotics Caucus. Then I traveled to attend Apple’s World Wide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco. PBS News Hour interviewed me (see 6:20 mark) on their Facebook Live stream to hear how we are using culturally responsive pedagogy to teach underrepresented girls collaborative humanoid robot (, or co-robot), programming. This week we began a series of seven one-week workshops for Latina and African American middle school girls in Phoenix and Milwaukee to teach them how to program humanoid robots and to use this technology to address issues important to them in their communities. I believe everyone can learn to code and design well.
WWDC and Swift Playgrounds on the iPad
This morning I saw Tim Cook lead the Apple WWDC Keynote at the Bill Graham Civic Center. There was plenty of new technology announced but hearing about Swift Playgrounds got me the most excited. Last year, we heard how Apple was going to make Swift Open Source. I thought that move would help to make programming iOS and other Apple platform applications (watchOS, tvOS, macOS) more accessible since it would not require an Apple computer to write Swift software and apps. But today’s announcement that programming Swift on iPads will be allowed for K-12 student learning purposes was phenomenal. The Swift Playground in Xcode allows interactive coding that instantaneously show the results of a student’s code. The new Swift Playgrounds for the iPad make a less expensive alternative to a MacBook or iMac and many schools offer access to iPads, even on a one-to-one iPad to student ratio. It is difficult to explain the richness of Swift Playgrounds until you have tried it. I have taught programming for many years in several languages and by far Swift, along with the Playgrounds, is not only my favorite but possibly the most powerful and has the most potential of new programming languages. With Swift Playgrounds for the iPad, Apple believes, and I believe as well, that anyone and everyone can learn to program well.