Idahoans, you can get a free, one-hour introduction to app development March 27-29

A for-profit education company that operates online schools, and previously ran several institutions in places outside Idaho, has agreed to forgive debt for hundreds of Idaho students.
A for-profit education company that operates online schools, and previously ran several institutions in places outside Idaho, has agreed to forgive debt for hundreds of Idaho students.

Want to learn how to make an app? You can get a free one-hour introduction next week at any of 54 presentations in 20 Idaho cities.

A group called Innovation Collective has joined with the University of Idaho to use the introductions to promote a “rapid learning initiative” it will roll out later this year. Techies will demonstrate app development and programming to encourage young and old to find work in high-paying coding jobs.

“We are one of the lowest-average-wage states, and the shrinking need for humans in certain industries makes a case for us to attempt to connect as many citizens as possible to rapidly growing economies like app development,” said the group’s founder, Nick Smoot, a Coeur d’Alene tech-startup veteran and venture capitalist.

A report by an app analytics firm says app sales, in-app advertising and mobile commerce totaled $1.3 trillion worldwide in 2016 and could total nearly five times that much by 2021.

The tour leaders will give participants a taste of Apple’s Swift, an open-source programming language used to build apps for iOS, Mac, Apple TV and Apple Watch. They also will demonstrate Playgrounds, a tool for learning Swift on the iPad; and Xcode, a Macintosh computer app for building other Mac and iOS (iPhone and iPad) apps. Participants will use iPads to program Sphero robots, a brand of baseball-size toy robotic balls.

The presentation schedule is below. No preregistration is needed.

Nick Smoot mug
Nick Smoot

Innovation Collective and the U of I said they hope to launch a full, 180-hour app-development training program this spring, with classes offered at no cost in each Idaho county. The training will use Apple’s Everyone Can Code curriculum.

“The program is designed to help you make money, be a part of a new growing economy, and unlock the fullness of your potential,” Smoot said.

Former White House tech officer to speak

Innovation Collective also is sponsoring a free presentation Friday, March 30, in Boise, by Megan Smith, former chief technology officer for President Barack Obama. She will talk from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Lincoln Room of the Capitol.

A party will follow from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at Ventive, an app and website developer and user-experience design firm, at 121 N. 9th St., No. 101. The party is free, though $10 donations are suggested.

Innovation Collective’s goal

During a visit to Boise in January, Smoot said he founded Innovation Collective to help Americans prosper in an age of flat wages, increasing concentration of wealth, and degraded social ties.

Innovation Collective’s website says: “The danger is clear. America’s mix of social isolation, economic fragility and disruptive technologies could lead to increasing instability and inequality.”

The group hopes to foster skills training and to nurture the economic strengths of cities like Boise with the help of like-minded business people, philanthropists and civic leaders. It aims to host regular “fireside chats,” like Smith’s presentation, in those cities, along with regular coffees to discuss technology and a yearly festival to celebrate a city’s strengths.

David Staats: 208-377-6417, @DavidStaats

Try coding free

The schedule for one-hour sessions in Southwest Idaho:

Boise: 3 and 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 27; and 8 and 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 28, at the University of Idaho Boise, Legacy Pointe Room, 322 E. Front St.

Caldwell: 3 and 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 28, at the U of I’s Caldwell Education Center, 1902 E. Chicago St.

Mountain Home: 7:30 and 10 a.m. Tuesday, March 27, at the American Legion, 515 E. 2nd S St.

Weiser: 7:30 and 10 a.m. Thursday, March 29, at the Vendome Event Center, 309 State St.

Sessions also are scheduled Tuesday through Thursday, March 27-29, in Bonners Ferry, Kellogg, Coeur d’Alene, Plummer, Moscow, Lewiston, Grangeville, McCall, Hailey, Twin Falls, Rupert, Idaho Falls, Rexburg, Blackfoot, Pocatello and Preston. Click here for the days, times and places.