I briefly mentioned Apple’s Swift Playgrounds app when I talked about Scratch Jr. a few posts. Swift Playgrounds in an iPad app designed as an introduction to learning how to code with Swift. Swift is a programming language used to design a variety of apps that are currently on the market. Their website advertises the app as a great entry point for students since it requires no prior coding knowledge to get started, and it’s free!
Students can choose to jump in anywhere they feel comfortable if they already have prior experience coding or with the app. The app will then take you through a series of mini-lessons to teach you how to use the Swift code to accomplish a specific type of task. You’ll learn how to move your monster character, including walking, turning, jumping and toggling switches. Following this, you will use the skills you have learned thus far to try to get your monster to solve the puzzles present in the level to progress to the next. In the image above, you can see pieces of code on the bar at the bottom so beginners can start by confidently selecting the piece of code they think will get the job done, however, this feature can be distracting for advanced users or encourage passive learning. I am not sure if there is a way to turn this off yet, but if there is, I would strongly encourage removing the feature for a more actively engaging experience.
I had a ton of fun playing through the tutorials, though I did find the beginning levels to be a bit tedious since I’m not a beginner. Swift Playgrounds is for everyone, though, and isn’t limited to just the basics. After getting through the fundamentals, the app offers more advanced lessons as well as a variety of other challenges that users can move on to. In addition to these extra challenges, users can also play around with templates allowing users to code for the iPad’s gyroscope and Multi-Touch functionality. When you’re satisfied with what you’ve created, or you want to put it out there for feedback, the app allows you to share your creations with the world, or maybe just that one friend, as well.