More Thoughts On Teaching Swift

I wrote previously about how my semester has gone teaching Apple’s “Intro to App Development with Swift” curriculum. It’s been a success, and the students really seemed to enjoy the class, but there are a few things more I’d like to say about it.

Since this was my first semester teaching a high school class, I didn’t really know what to expect time management-wise. I figured the forty-five minutes a day, five days a week, would be plenty of time to cover these topics in the textbook. I even worried about what we’d do after we finished the book since it looked like it’d get over so quickly. I was wrong.

It turns out a forty-five minute class isn’t as long as it sounds. I found my self wishing the class was closer to 1.5 hours or so. Getting into a topic and explaining it and then doing the exercises and then discussing the exercises always took multiple days. When you’re battling the attention span of an adolescent, this wasn’t always the easiest thing.

But that’s ok, right? Welcome to the joy of teaching high schoolers, right? Well, yeah, I get that what I’m complaining about isn’t really new to being a teacher.

So that brings me to my next point – I think this needs to be a year long course rather than the semester that Apple suggests. My students learned a lot of the basic concepts of Swift and Xcode, but we never really got to dive into what it felt like to create an app from concept to completion. They can follow instructions to build an app, and they did with the final project, but I couldn’t give them a concept and them go make it from nothing. I feel like with a year they could have done that.

Since the class isn’t really geared towards a whole year, I’m toying with the idea of offering a more advanced class that students could take after this one. I think the students would like to go deeper into Swift and app development, so maybe offering this Intro class and then a second Advanced class to take next would be a good solution. It’s too late to add a second class for this upcoming school year, but maybe we could do it the next.