Beginning this January, Anderson University students are gaining the opportunity to learn the principles of coding and iOS app design through a new minor, helping them build the fundamental skills they need to pursue careers in the growing app economy.
Developed by AU’s College of Arts and Sciences and Center for Innovation and Digital Learning (CIDL) in collaboration with Apple, the minor will include App Development with Swift Curriculum, a course designed by Apple engineers and educators to teach coding and app design, including the basics of Xcode, the software environment used to make apps on Mac. What makes the minor unique is how it extends the coding experience to two years and incorporates app creation as a basic component of a liberal arts education.
“We believe this opportunity will allow us to do something truly unique in liberal arts education and demonstrates Anderson University’s commitment to integrating the newest technologies with 21st century disciplines,” AU President Dr. Evans Whitaker said. “This minor epitomizes how we approach teaching and learning at AU. Our goal is to fully prepare our students for their careers, and having them learn a marketable and highly sought-after skill like coding will help them in whatever field they choose.”
That's because the demand for coding skills is high. More than 500,000 programming and coding positions were available in the U.S. as of August 2017. These are well-paying jobs that lack qualified applicants. Since the launch of the App Store in 2008, U.S. app developers have earned more than $16 billion in App Store sales worldwide.
The new minor, which is open to all students and majors, includes courses and activities aligned with design thinking, web management and product development to provide students with knowledge and skills critical for jobs in software development and information technology. Anderson students will complete 18 credit hours, including two introductory coding courses and other classes in web development and visual design for iOS app development. Their work culminates with two capstone courses where students collaborate and put their knowledge to work producing apps that address real-world needs, challenges and problems.
Faculty members across three AU colleges will teach the basics of coding, design and product development using free coding curriculum and teaching and learning resources available through Everyone Can Code, Apple’s popular education initiative that helps give everyone the power to learn, write and teach coding. Development workshops for Anderson faculty will help teachers learn how to teach in Swift and Xcode, including how to utilize Swift Playgrounds, an educational app for iPad that makes learning Swift interactive and fun.
The initiative isn’t just for AU students. AU officials have plans to share this opportunity with the community as well. Building on the belief that “Everyone Can Code,” the Coding and App Development program will offer summer programs for K12 teachers and students. The Center for Innovation and Digital Learning and AU’s College of Education are developing opportunities to provide Coding Academies for K12 teachers and Coding Camps for K12 students.
“Students in any field will be able to bring the thinking skills and disciplinary expertise they learn from their major to this minor,” said Wayne Cox, Dean of AU’s College of Arts and Sciences. “Then they can tailor the strengths gained from the coding minor in a way that enhances their marketability and gives them coding and development experience. And they’ll have a finished product that illustrates their abilities.”
“This minor offers a unique environment for students in the liberal arts to apply their creativity and reasoning skills in additional ways that can enhance and articulate their employment opportunities,” Cox said. “They will be ready to find their place and flourish in the new economy where apps, connectivity and productivity go hand in hand.”
“At Anderson University, we believe that every student in every major can code and work with others in creative, interdisciplinary ways,” Cox said. “We believe that all of our students should have the opportunity to learn not only how to code, but also how to conceive, design, create and market a product that will benefit society.”
“At AU, with our unique mission and emphasis on servant leadership, and as a two-time recipient of Apple's Distinguished School recognition, we are uniquely prepared to offer such a learning experience to the students, and this will soon translate into a distinct advantage for our graduates," he said. Cox also pointed out AU’s US News & World Report ranking as one of the top regional universities in the south, and its rank as the No. 7 most innovative school in the country.
The addition of this interdisciplinary minor is closely aligned with AU’s strategic plan and its Mobile Learning Initiative (MLI). Since the launch of the Mobile Learning Initiative in 2011, AU has been a national leader in the use of mobile devices and digital learning. One most recent example of this is how the MLI provided all undergraduate students and faculty members with iPad Pros as the common technology platform.
“The Coding and App Development minor reflects the efforts we’ve placed on the thoughtful integration and use of technology that have been in place since the beginning of the MLI,” said Dr. Benjamin Deaton, Assistant Provost for Academic Innovation and Digital Learning and the Executive Director of the Center for Innovation and Digital Learning. “This minor shows our commitment and direction: rather than being bystanders, we want our students to engage in coding so they can better understand and participate in the language that is shaping their digital lives.”
The first course in the minor will be taught in Spring 2018, and the minor will be fully launched in the fall semester of 2018. In addition to the minor, one of AU’s Digital Media Labs will be renovated and transformed into the App and Media Development Studio.