NC3 has some impressive Master Instructors in our ranks and this Instructor Spotlight series aims to highlight the incredibly talented individuals who work with us. We’ll be featuring a new interview in our monthly newsletters, here on our website, and on our social media pages each month.
NC3 Master Instructor | App Development with Swift
Brian is an Apple Distinguished Educator. For more than 25 years, the Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) program has recognized educators from around the world using Apple technology to transform teaching and learning. As pioneers in education, Apple Distinguished Educators are advisors, authors, ambassadors, and advocates looking to change the world. They’re active leaders helping other educators rethink what’s possible with iPad and Mac to make learning deeply personal for every student.
NC3’s Swift Program Manager, Jeramiah Pauly sat down with NC3 Master Instructor, Brian Foutty to talk all about Swift, a programming language from Apple that’s easy to learn and simple to use, which makes it great for first time coders and full-time developers. Apple also makes available free educational content through a program called Develop in Swift, to prepare learners for college or a career in app development.
Thank you for sharing your story with the NC3 network, Brian! What is your title and what do you do at Trumbull Career & Technical Center in Ohio?
I am the Innovative Learning Specialist at the Trumbull Career and Technical Center which means that I manage my school district’s iPad and Mac 1:1 deployment by providing just-in-time support to students and staff to maximize student engagement in the classroom. Additionally, I teach the app development part to the students in the Web and App Development program.
You operate a great resource for educators, SwiftTeacher.org and on your website you describe yourself as a “recovering math teacher”. How did you come to work in education, over 20 years ago and what did you do before you joined TCTC?
I graduated from Kent State University (go Flashes!) in May 1994. After graduation, I worked for a year as a student aid in the Revere Local School district and in the family business (the grocery store business). I knew that I did not want to do either of those two things for the rest of my working life. I eventually found a posting for a math instructor position at TCTC and the rest is history. I have now been at TCTC for twenty-eight years and it was one of the best things that could have ever happened to me. Career-Tech/industry specific education and certification is often overlooked in the greater education discussion amongst education leaders and policy makers. However, I firmly believe that we in CTE are some of the most successful and impactful educators in the US because of the difference we make in our students’ lives and providing them an education that will enable them to become successful and contributing members of our society.
Apple announced Swift in 2014, their very own programming language to build super powerful and intuitive apps for iPhone, iPad, Mac & more. When did you become interested in app development with Swift and how did you get started learning the programming language?
I attended an Objective-C (Apple’s previous coding language) coding Boot Camp in April 2014. So, when Swift was announced at the 2014 WWDC I recognized how much more approachable it is as a language for new coders. So, I dove right in with Apple’s learning materials, YouTube videos, and an online learning portal which at the time was called Ray Wenderlich (raywenderlich.com). That same year I started teaching small Swift snippets to my math students. In 2015 Apple launched its first coding curriculum on swifteducation.github.io which was a collaborative effort between Apple and a computer science instructor Yong Bakos. Apple released its own in-house curriculum in 2016 called App Development with Swift. Then, in 2019 Develop in Swift was launched to support learners in high school and higher education. So, this is the third Apple curriculum I have used in my classroom.
For the third time, TCTC received the Apple Distinguished School award – congratulations! That is an outstanding achievement Brian. TCTC director, Paula Baco, said that during her 21 years at the center, she has seen the technology expand from iPads on carts to students each having their own laptops. “Our teachers and the use of technology in their classrooms is the reason we get this recognition,” Paula said. How might other schools work towards this achievement and can you share your pathway to becoming an Apple Distinguished Educator?
You have to get investment from your colleagues on staff and create a professional environment of life-long learning, innovation, failure, and then success. You cannot innovate without failing forward so that the educators know that they can try something in their respective classrooms, fail, learn, and then try other educational strategies and tools until they and their students have success. Programming is a profession where failure is expected. Nobody builds software without bugs… nobody. Failure is one of the best ways to learn and then innovate. Educators cannot be hesitant or worried about failing and they must be supported by administration to allow for failure so that they can then learn and succeed.
At NC3, we believe in the value of industry-recognized certifications for students as they prepare for future careers. What motivates you as an educator to issue Apple’s App Development with Swift certifications administered by Certiport?
I have found that my students who have earned their Swift certifications are having the most success in post-secondary schooling and professionally. The exams place a sense of urgency and importance in learning and retaining the knowledge they have acquired. The certifications tell employers and clients that they have a command of making apps in Swift and they are successful people.
As one of the first NC3 Swift Master Instructors and collaborators in building our training course, how has NC3’s Train-The-Trainer process assisted you in your work as an educator?
It has required me to take a long look at the entire curriculum and evaluate it to find the most essential and required elements from the perspective of an educator leading new coding learners. This has given me a fresh perspective of what are the topics and skills I need to teach and stress in my own teaching to my students.
Lastly, if you could give a piece of advice to aspiring educators that are interested in app development with Swift for their students – what would that be?
Build apps, build apps, build apps. Attend the NC3 Swift Train-The-Trainer training to work through Apple’s free Develop in Swift resources with experienced instructor’s so that you do not become overwhelmed and help you avoid the “gotchas” of developing for Apple hardware. Then, build apps for yourself and your personal devices. This will enable you to practice both the Swift language and the developer tools.
For information on Trumbull Career and Technical Center, please visit www.tctchome.com
For information on TCTC’s Apple Distinguished School award, please visit www.tribtoday.com
For information on NC3’s Train-the-Trainer program, please visit www.nc3.net/training
For information on Apple’s app development resources: www.apple.com/education