CHICAGO – The Discovery Partners Institute, in partnership with Apple, is launching a training program for teachers in mobile app development using Swift, enabling participants to gain programming skills and bring computer science concepts into their K-12 classrooms.
The online, self-paced course consists of 10 learning modules, lasts approximately 180 hours, and requires no prior coding experience. Upon successful completion, teachers will be prepared to take Apple’s App Development with Swift Certified User exam and build foundational knowledge to teach coding and app development to the next generation of developers and designers. Apple’s Swift is a powerful and intuitive programming language for iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS, and is one of the fastest growing programming languages of all time.
The first cohort of 27 teachers launched on July 25, 2022, and will end in February 2023. The participants represent rural, urban and suburban schools throughout Illinois and teach a variety of subjects, including business, social studies, special education, math, art, and PE.
DPI’s Community Education Unit, which is part of the Pritzker Tech Talent Labs, provides instructional coaching for the duration of the program through the creation of a peer mentoring network and ongoing professional development to support teachers as they learn mobile app development concepts and implement pedagogical approaches in their classrooms.
“By gaining familiarity with Swift, Illinois teachers are better equipped to integrate technology into their respective content areas, launch coding clubs, engage students in hands-on learning, and design lesson plans that support multiple learning modalities,” said Charity Freeman, Associate Director of DPI’s Teacher Training Initiatives.
With 80% of current jobs requiring some level of computing knowledge, high school graduates in Illinois are entering a workforce dominated by technology, yet many of these young people are not receiving the computing education or skills they need to work and innovate in this new digital workforce.
A shortage of trained computer science teachers is the No. 1 reason why more of these courses are not offered in Illinois schools — a problem that is exacerbated in rural districts. This critical need was highlighted in June 2021 by UIUC’s College of Education in Illinois’ first statewide landscape report on K-12 computer science education [go.illinois.edu/csed-landscape-report].
Through its Community Education Initiative, Apple has supplied its standard Swift programming curriculum, a MacBook Air device, and a stipend for each teacher-participant of DPI’s first Swift cohort, as well as tuition scholarships for educators who are simultaneously enrolled in UIUC’s Teaching Endorsement in Computer Science [dpi.uillinois.edu/csted].
“At Apple, we believe all students should have the opportunity to learn the skills necessary for the jobs of today and tomorrow, and we recognize the important role teachers play in fostering those opportunities,” said Stacy Erb, Apple’s Director of Community Education Initiatives. “We are proud to partner with Discovery Partners Institute to provide training and ongoing support to these incredible educators who see the value of these skills, and are eager to see their students succeed.”
This partnership also includes cross-institutional collaboration and support from The Ohio State University’s Office of Distance Education and eLearning through its Digital Flagship initiative. Interested K-12 teachers and staff are encouraged to learn more at our website [dpi.uillinois.edu/swift-pd], complete an Interest Form [dpi.uillinois.edu/csted-interest], or contact DPI’s Community Education Unit (CommunityEd@uillinois.edu) for more information.
The Discovery Partners Institute empowers people to jumpstart their tech careers or companies in Chicago. Led by the University of Illinois System in partnership with top research universities, it does three things: Train people for high-demand tech jobs; conduct applied R&D; and support business building. With state investment and a new innovation district in development, DPI has the resources to attract, develop, and leverage the most ambitious people and companies the region has to offer — and keep them here.