Are you familiar with the three apples that changed the world?

First, the forbidden fruit from Adam & Eve’s story, then the apple that gave Newton a concussion (and later, gravity), and lastly Steve Jobs’ half-bitten apple.

Although in retrospect, the people wielding the fate of these apples were more responsible for the changes than mere fruit.

For optimists, it’s apparent that we hold the reins of our own future — albeit unknown — and technology is just a tool we need to navigate through this unknown future. Therefore, immersing it into our education system is vital and urgent.

Recently, e27 sat in for Apple’s Edtech talk centred around how education policies, institutes and new collaborative initiatives could help Singaporean students develop the digital skills they needed to succeed in the future workforce.

Apple was represented by Lisa Jackson, the VP of environment, policy and social initiatives. Guests included Professor Chong Tow Chong from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), Helen Souness from RMIT online, Denise Phua from Pathlight School and Ong Ye Kung, Singapore’s Minister for Education.

Here’s what we gathered from the event.

Autism and coding

It’s clear that the world is rapidly changing, but the fact that it’s still a ‘world’ remains constant.

A ‘world’ encompasses all the people and societies of the earth — including the special needs community. And, the future does not discriminate. Everyone, regardless of background, will need to be prepared for it.

Pathlight School recognises this and seeks to future-ready its autistic students for the demands of an ever electrifying, ever ‘technifying’ world.

Arm-in-arm with Apple certified trainers, the school will run the Swift Accelerator programme for a selected group of students aged 13-18. The 144-hour coding programme will help deepen the skills and competencies of these interested and talented students.

Pathlight also has its six-year-old IT & Design Academy that was launched to stimulate students’ natural interest and aptitude for IT. The programme exposes students, as young as seven, to ICT skills via a slew of engaging techniques like learning to code with angry birds or expressing creativity through design and digital media.

Denise Phua said that Pathlight strongly advocates for the “nobody left behind” rule and that they are very heartened by this thoughtful and inclusive collaboration with Apple.

“Not just to survive, but to thrive” were Denise’s passionate parting words that fully encapsulated Pathlight’s strong conviction and commitment to upskilling its students for the digital age.

Advancing the curriculum

Education-meets-technology has to be the greatest crossover since The Jeffersons met The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

Tech is woven so intricately into the fabric of our lives that not being able to comprehend it would mean missing out on a major part of the esteemed human experience.

Mr Ong Ye Kung compared the digital language to English, explaining that digital literacy was a growingly significant mode of communication. He stressed that in order to enjoy a pleasant co-existence with technology, we had to “demystify it” first — and we all know that impressionable young minds are the perfect busting grounds for myths.

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Echoing his sentiments was Ms Lisa Jackson as she described coding as the “language of the future” and a skill that should be accessible to everyone.

Coupling the thought of accessibility with the pressing need for technological intervention, the Ministry of Education has partnered with Apple to see through programs like Everyone Can Code, Swift, Swift Playgrounds and even Teacher Guides. These programmes are all engineered to ease coding into the classroom setting for the benefit of both student and teacher.

In particular, App Development with Swift has been newly expanded across more schools in Singapore for students to build iOS apps from scratch. This presents a huge opportunity for budding app designers to cash in on a market that virtually enables their ideas to reach millions.

Everyone should have the opportunity to change everything and Edtech provides just that.

Adapting to the world

“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it”. This is a communal principle that Einstein and the many adults who are avidly interested in app design and development share.

Fortunately, SUTD has joined up with Apple and Skillsfuture Singapore to design two short courses that will cater to the pool of keen adult learners.

Just how short are they?

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In five days, the Swift App Development Fundamentals course can turn rookies to basic app designers. Also, the Augmented Reality with ARKit programme can take app designs to a whole new level in half a week.

SUTD looks forward to humanising advanced technology and helping working adults embrace digital transformation for enhanced employability under this collaborative move.

In tandem with SUTD’s mission to enhance employability, RMIT online will be expanding its successful iOS App Development with Swift course to Singapore. The course, jointly spearheaded by Tigerspike and Accenture, will offer self-paced opportunities for mid-career professionals to learn coding.

Speaking eagerly on the subject, Helen Souness said that “the future of work will be governed by emerging technologies and data” and that such industry-relevant training would be key in pioneering the upskilling of a nation.

Digital literacy isn’t reserved for the creme de la creme of our population. With these initiatives, all anyone needs is a spoonful of enthusiasm and a dash of hard work to enjoy greater relevancy and employability.

The people of the future are the students of the now. Edtech is here to be endorsed, embraced and most of all — to empower.

Have fun kids!