NASHVILLE – Technology giant Apple, Inc. has partnered with Tennessee State University to give minorities and underserved communities greater access to the field. TSU has been charged with strengthening the collaboration by offering the company’s coding curriculum to new audiences.
That expansion includes providing TSU alums the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of app design and app development for free. Computer Applications for Educational Leaders is being offered through the TSU School of Graduate and Professional Studies, and is accepting applications now.
The course supports the university’s mission to provide life-long learning opportunities to the TSU alumni.
“This course is the first of its kind to address an individual’s working and learning style where they can take the course on-ground, online, hybrid or at the Apple Store,” said Dr. Robbie K. Melton, Tennessee State University’s dean of Graduate and Professional Studies and program director for the coding initiative.
Dr. Melton also says the curriculum is structured to provide onsite instruction for groups of 10 or more wherever they are located.
That scheduling flexibility is what attracted Dr. Jeffery Norfleet, associate dean of Academic Services at Trevecca Nazarene University.
“I like to learn virtually because it just works with my time and my schedule,” said Norfleet, who received his undergraduate degree from TSU in Humanities in 2008 and his master’s in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus in educational technology in 2010.
“There are apps out their for everyone. Apps out there that will help you with your personal life, your professional life, and your spiritual journey,” he said. “We may not be coding experts as far as the ‘IT’ side is concerned, but from your basic line of work and employment, you can utilize this skill set to benefit the community in which you live.”
Norfleet, a Clarksville-native who served as saxophone section leader with the Aristocrat of Bands while at TSU, said he believes efforts like this one will strengthen the university’s relationship with its alumni.
“I think this will begin to open up doors where students can see that they may have walked away with one major or one type of master’s, but the resources that the school wants to pour back into them will give them the opportunity to continue to develop their professional skill set as well as their personal skill set,” he said.
“It also encourages them to give back to the university, because these opportunities don’t come free at most places.”
Sheron B. Doss, who secured a bachelors degree in Social Welfare from TSU in 1976, is proving you’re never too old to learn, and said courses like this one are important for seniors.
“At our age, we assume we are too old to learn, but why shouldn’t we learn now,” said Doss, who was recently accepted into the doctoral program for Administration Management in Pre-K and Higher Education at TSU.
“We are living longer, and we have got to be there rather than depend on our children and grandchildren. It makes communicating and living so much easier.”
Melton said the HBCU C2 initiative puts TSU on the forefront of embracing STEM, and she credits the university’s partnership with Apple with being key to its success. She said TSU employees as well as Tennessee high school students are also eligible to take the free course.
“Apple provides an approach to introduce coding and creativity in a nonthreatening manner,” she said. “You have children coding. You have seniors coding, and the fact that we have over 200 people from high school to senior citizen centers wanting to code and create is phenomenal.”
The push comes on the heels of the university’s July launch of HBCU C2 “Everyone Can Code and Everyone Can Create”, a national initiative supported by Apple, Inc., which seeks to bring coding experiences to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and underserved communities.
“Apple is encouraging us to offer more academies because of the result from the academy this summer in which five of the apps that were designed are now being tested on campuses,” said Melton.
“We got a call from the Department of Labor because they received word from other constituents about the excitement, not just in Tennessee, but throughout all HBCUs regarding our transformation attitude regarding STEM careers,” she added.
Doss, who found out about the class during registration, said she took Melton’s Microcomputer Technology in Primary and Elementary Schools course in 2017. She encourages all alums to take advantage of the free learning opportunity.
“I don’t care who you are. I don’t care what level or what age, just start,” she said. “Just look at it, and I guarantee you that something in the course during the duration of the class will make you happy, will make you glad, and if you are like me, it will excite you.”
TSU hosted the inaugural HBCU C2 Presidential Academy July 14-19 through its newly established National Center for Smart Technology Innovations. Leaders of 14 historically black colleges and universities – including Tennessee State – from across the country came away from the Academy with knowledge and skills in coding and app development from Apple’s comprehensive coding curriculum, which utilizes its popular Swift programming language.
For more information about enrolling in EDAD 6100: Computer Applications for Educational Leaders course, contact Deborah Chisom at [email protected] or call (615) 963-7390.