A prevailing view in computer science (CS) education today is that everyone can and should learn to code. Coding is identified as a new, universal literacy, essential for living and working in contemporary society and economy, especially as our world becomes increasingly, highly mediated and networked through mobile and ubiquitous technologies (Brennan & Resnick, 2012).
In Ireland, once the world’s largest exporter of software, CS education in schools has arrived at a critical juncture in its history and development. While Computer Studies/ICT (information and communications technology) has been included as an official subject in Irish schools since 1993, it has always been a ‘subject without a syllabus’, remaining unexamined in the formal, points-based Irish school assessment system for entry into college, further and higher education. Such ‘non-assessment’ typically relegates a subject to a low/peripheral status in the cramped, diverse Irish national curriculum. However, at the time of writing, the Irish Government and Department of Education and Skills have just completed an extensive consultation on the first-ever formal school curriculum and state assessment design for CS education in Irish schools. Although the CS curriculum has been conceptualised and developed, and while the view is that all learners and teachers need to engage with coding and digital literacy as essential new lifelong skills, much less consideration has been afforded CS education for teachers, and how this should be designed and supported, in order to optimise the effectiveness and impact of the new curriculum innovation for CS in schools. Also, while the view is that everyone can and should code, less thought is being given to who will, or can teach code. It is a crucially important that CS education for teachers is undertaken effectively, in order to optimise the impact of the new CS curriculum in schools.
We aim to explore the fundamental question that if everyone can and should code, who can and should teach code? Alongside the historic development of coding and CS education internationally, whole new environments, resources, apps and tools have emerged to support CS education and creativity through coding. Part of the focus of our paper is to look at Apple’s Swift Playgrounds ecosystem for CS education. We offer insights into using the Swift Playground and coding API for education and – through this bespoke design for CS education – highlight the potential created and challenges faced in advancing and augmenting CS education for teacher professional learning.