EdTechMason’s Top 5 Coding Apps  on the iPad 

We are in the midst of another exciting Computer Science Education Week (December 4-10, 2018), and I can not help but reflect on some of my favorite coding applications on one of my favorite mobile devices, the iPad. #CSEdweek helps remind educators around the world to foster computational, analytical, and critical thinking skills in students through Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) activities like coding.

One of the biggest pushes during this week is for students to try an #hourofcode. This hour can help introduce students to coding concepts, applications, and careers. It’s essential for us to remember that an hour of code should be the spark for further exploration and education in computer science. Coding is quickly becoming the language of the future, and even if students don’t go into STEM fields, the skills they learn will still serve them well no matter what path they decide to take.

There are a variety of apps available on the iPad that help scaffold the learning of code for students. Generally, before introducing students to a coding language, teachers can have students complete unplugged activities, learning tasks that involve coding concepts but no technology. Then with apps can further the learning with line coding, block coding, and then using actual coding language. Here are my top 5:

Scratch Jr.

Scratch Jr. is one of the easiest ways to introduce coding to students. Scratch Jr. uses block coding to allow students to manipulate characters, tell stories, and express themselves in other creative ways. This application is excellent for early grades and helps scaffold the learning of code in a fun, engaging, and non-threatening way.

codeSpark Academy

codeSpark Academy is another great introductory app for coding. What I like most is how they have mastered the gamification of learning and code. This coding experience is genuinely addictive, and the fact that this is the brainchild of the MIT Media Lab doesn’t hurt either. There is no better way to foster a love of learning and computer science in our youngest students.

Sphero Edu

Sphero Edu combines the analog with the digital. Students can not only learn code in a digital environment, but they can use their coding skills to code Sphero robots. Also, Sphere Edu allows students to code robots three ways: draw, block, or text. These are great for the beginner, intermediate, and advanced coders. I especially love creating labyrinths that require students to program the right code to help their bots escape the maze.

Tynker: Code and Mod Minecraft

Tynker is another good option with scaffolds built in for different levels of coding. Like the other apps, Tynker includes block coding but also allows coding using Apple’s coding language, Swift. With Tynker, students can code robots and drones or even add-ons and mods to Minecraft. Tynker is a great app to take students on the entire coding journey.

Swift Playgrounds

Swift Playgrounds is my favorite coding app on the iPad. Students can work through different levels of code advancing their skills and understanding of coding concepts and the Swift coding language. Lessons build on each other, and it reminds me of going through a math class. Apple also offers a free coding curriculum and other resources to help educators get started.

What are some of your favorite coding apps?

These are just a few of the many coding applications available on the iPad. I hope you and your students get a chance to try some of them out, and I’d love to know what your favorite coding applications on the iPad are.