Today I met with colleague Stuart Collidge and filmed him talking about the educational applications of iPad music apps. Stuart gives an overview of what the iPad apps offer, particularly in terms of enhancement and creativity. There is an interest in what the iPad offers beyond what is already possible with other devices, and I think you’ll find Stuart’s demonstration enlightening if you teach music. Thankyou, Stuart, and I hope to be able to use your expertise to create further videos which focus more deeply on particular apps. Stuart did a great job talking off the top of his head so I’m looking forward to what he can show us with preparation.
Category Archives: technology
As I’ve already mentioned before, I’m in the process of investigating iPad apps for learning enhancement in the classroom. A few weeks ago a colleague and brilliant music educator, Stuart Collidge, joined me in a meeting with our Deputy Principal (Curriculum) and a few other leaders in the school, to put forward a case for the use of iPads in the school, specifically for learning enhancement. I asked Stuart to write up how he sees the use of the iPad in the music classroom.
Recently, Tania asked me to speak with some of the decision-making powers that be at school to pitch the use of iPads as learning tools. This was something that Tania and I had reflected on a little and saw some potential in so I was more than happy to make the pitch. After borrowing Tania’s iPad to have a play on (I am not yet one of the iPad collective L), I worked my way through a few possible applications and uses. It was also very useful to troll through Google and look at the ways that other music educators are using these beasts.
Being a laptop school, it was important to differentiate the potential of these units from the laptops that are already in the hands of the students. For a school with no laptop program, I imagine that a class set of these would be AWESOME for a whole raft of areas of study, but being outside my brief, I didn’t focus too much on it.
My impression initially (and once we are up and running with a program, I’ll report on the accuracy of those impressions) was that this device would be awesome for me on two levels: as a music/education professional, and as a performer. I can also see how students could use these devices in the same way.
As a performer, the iPad is now a very comprehensive musical instrument. In fact, several instruments all in one. There seem to be two different approaches to performance apps. The first way is to use the device as a synthesiser. There are several things that already do that, but the advantage of the iPad is in the interface which can encourage different approaches to composing and performing. If you sit down at a conventional keyboard, the notes are laid out in a particular way and we are trained to approach the keyboard in that particular way (unless you are into avant garde composition). A lot of music is constructed around melodies and chords that “fit under the fingers”. Take a look at a synth like Musix. The layout of the octaves and notes allows us a melodic freedom and an opportunity to audition sounds that are harder to achieve on a conventional piano. I imagine that you can find many other synths that encourage alternative approaches to melody making.
There is also a variety of apps that are much like a hardware synth allowing you access to oscillators, LFOs, filters, etc. You can also use the iPad to drive Digital Audio Workstations for tracks or DJing live. Ableton seems to be the best suited to creating and manipulating arrangements in a live situation. And for patching your iPad into your amp/PA/recording rig, try this: https://www.alesis.com/iodock.
All of this means that with a few apps and some time, students can generate performance material in a variety of different ways to suit a particular idea or project and allows for a greater degree of creativity and freedom.
As a music professional, I am most interested in using the iPad as music stand. I have spoken with people that do this and received mixed reviews, but I feel that this is where music reading should be going. An iPad could contain an entire library of sheet music in PDF format (solo music, ensemble parts, method books, scores, backing tracks) and would be fantastic to use in performance or rehearsal. No longer need to worry about losing original parts, remembering pencils (the software stores any annotations made), or sorting through libraries of stuff (although the logistics of scanning everything might be headache enough, until publishers are in selling more of their material in that format). Imagine being able to transpose a score instantly into a new key (to my way of thinking, the only way for us to be rid of the archaic institution of transposing instruments).
Of course, it already has a variety of apps that are useful (and which I use on my iPhone) like chromatic tuners, tone generators, metronomes, DMX dipswitch calculators, remote control for lighting desks, decibel meter, power load calculators, chord finders, etc.
All this in a device the size of a small text book!
I am very much looking forward to putting my hands on a unit that I can stock it up with goodies!
Image from Sophie Horwood’s blog
Catering for differentiation in the classroom can open up new possibilities if you combine alternative approach with technology. Some schools are skipping the one-on-one notebooks and thinking about the lighter iPads. Of course, this opens up a whole range of new issues which need to be addressed before the investment is made.
iPads in Education ning features a discussion about teacher control of iPads – one of the first issues to arise when considering the use of iPads in the classroom. Sam Gliksman, creator of this ning, has posted a question on the forum:
Is the relative lack of teacher control over student iPad use a relief or a recipe for disaster?
Unlike laptops, which can be monitored with purchased software, the lack of such control of iPads presents a problem for teachers. Or does it?
Commenters of this post express different opinions. Some see this as a significant obstacle to iPad use, and others are willing to overlook the issue considering advanced features of the iPad. I’ve pulled out some of the positive comments:
What I do know is that iPads can bring up web pages faster than any computer that I have ever used, their use is completely intuitive, apps are endless, their fun, and on and on.
I think that if students are really inspired by their lesson, what they are being asked to research or present – whatever, they will be engrossed and will not bother to stray from the requirements of the lesson.
I generally believe that if teachers are walking around the room and being engaged in the learning process, nothing horrible is going to happen. I prefer to give students more control and responsibility rather than less.
I would like to focus on the positive side of things. Yes, there are issues but if we focus on those then we won’t get to play with the iPads, and we won’t discover their use in the classroom. Before I bought my iPad people asked me what I would do with it. I honestly didn’t know because I needed to have one in order to find out. I’m hoping to do the same if I can convince teachers to purchase at least one per faculty. The lack of control here is no different to a lack of control over notebooks. If we’re worried that students will be able to purchase apps we don’t want, how is it different to students downloading things onto their notebook?
First things first. I’m researching apps for each faculty area, and I plan to show staff or at least faculty heads. My focus in on apps which provide the kind of learning you don’t find anywhere else. I think converting teachers is a necessary step in the the whole process.
Please share your favourite iPad apps for secondary school, and any experiences from which we could learn.
In my new role as coordinator of learning enhancement, I’ve been thinking about providing enhancement on several levels, and focusing on these in particular –
- the provision of resources to help teachers provide opportunities for learning enhancement in their classes
- the education of teachers to change their practice so that they realise the powerful potential of a personal learning network (PLN)
- creating opportunities for passion-driven projects within the school
There have been a couple of major shifts already which I’m really pleased about. The first is the shift in ownership of my blog, Fiction is a box of chocolates. This year I have offered students who love writing to become co-authors of the blog. For me, this means stepping back to support these students from the back row, allowing them to drive and initiate the direction of the blog (which will have to be renamed as it increases its scope).
The second shift involves a move to introduce iPads into the classroom as tools for those who fall into the category of ‘learning enhancement students’. Now, don’t get excited. We’ve only agreed on purchasing a couple of iPads for the music faculty, but to me this a big win. I was pleasantly surprised that a meeting with those who call the shots with regard to technology in the classroom agreed to trial the iPads. The fact that one of our music teachers (Stuart Collidge) was completely on the ball with the potential of iPad technology made all the difference. Even in his initial thinking in an early email, it was clear that the iPads would definitely be an enhancement and not just extra technology:
As a conductor, I would have all my scores in it and work with it on the podium. As a brass teacher, I would have all of my performance repertoire that I would use with students in the studio. As an audio tech I have a bunch of apps that give me info about the room, acoustics, sound levels, remote controls for lighting and audio equipment. The most use seems to be the iPad as an instrument. The best uses are synthesisers and then using them to teach boys about synthesising sounds. As they are so visually based and easy to manipulate, it would be a good way of involving students. Some of the performance instruments invoke compositional ideas in different ways, and there are possibly ways of having individuals use them for performance projects. Certainly some of the VET Tech Production students should be putting their hands on these and seeing how they can drive sounds, automate performance, run backing tracks, manipulate sound for performances. I guess my perspective is that for $1000 plus cost of apps, I can own 8 or 10 instruments that would be worth a grand each to buy.
I hope that if we start small but think deeply about the creative potential of the iPads, we can inspire teachers from other faculties. Meanwhile I will start purchasing and playing with apps from other areas of the curriculum – so far I’ve focused on music and art.
Listening to Ewan McIntosh’s interview with Gever Tulley confirms for me that the introduction of iPad technology is not gimmicky and that, as educators, we should get our hands on an iPad and play with it in order to understand its potential in class,and also put it into the hands of our students.
“Gever feels that we’re finally seeing the integration of technology to the learning fabric of the school. The best programmes seem to be those where there’s a hands-off approach, where students are trusted to bring in and use their own devices and ideas. The iPad has become the companion of choice for youngsters on their learning journeys in this corner of California, where ad hoc, on demand research enrichens the experience and conversation that Gever and his collaborators have with the learners.
In effecting change at my own school, two main obstacles come to mind:
- the discouragement of the use of students’ mobile technologies which would enhance their participation in and driving of their learning
- the need for teachers to book the internet for each class if they intend to use it
Cost has been quoted as the main reason for the internet connection restrictions. I can’t argue against this, but my problem with this setup is that teachers will book the internet primarily when students are doing a project. This divides learning into two – no internet access while teachers ‘teach’ and students listen passively, and internet only when the teacher steps back so that students can get the work done.
I would like to see students actively using the internet to clarify and research information while the teacher is teaching. We really need to give students the opportunity to think actively and drive their learning during class. I still see too much passivity in the classroom.
Some of the most interesting finds on the Web are found and shared by @brainpicker on Twitter. Soundcities is one of them.
Soundcities allows you to visit cities around the world and browse sound files. It’s open so anyone can upload sounds which is what makes it so interesting. I love the idea of something created and growing thanks to individuals on the ground sharing what they’re doing or seeing or, in this case, hearing. It’s a wonderful, collaborative and authentic result.
It’s possible to remix these sounds so creative possibilities abound, both for music students in composition or in any projects integrating sound.
Integrated with Google Maps and Google Earth with geo information, the sounds are tagged and allow you to open up the sound file, there is such a variety of common and uncommon (depending on where you come from) sounds, such as flags flapping in Beijing, traffic and trains, Christmas choir practice in Prague, applause at a concert and laughter in the street.
A few words from the creator of Soundcities:
The sounds of cities evoke memories. As globalization fractures the identity of the city experience we start to find things that appear the same the world over. A growing labyrinth, a community of aural cityscapes and collages is now evolving online. (more here) It was the first online open source database of found city sounds.
This makes me laugh; I think my eldest son may have left home because of this.
It’s true that many of the ‘parent’ generation are less than expert at tech. Embarrassing, yes, and something I can completely relate to. When I did my Master of Education online, I didn’t even (dare I say it) know where the ‘on’ switch on the computer was. So the line ‘have you tried switching it off and on?’ would have not helped me one little bit.
My son was about 12 then and helped me struggle through the whole thing so that I could complete the degree. It was painful for both of us. I used to think that, once I’d logged onto the Charles Sturt University site, if I made a mistake, the people at the other end would know, and it would be embarrassing. The same as when I was a very young and I thought the people on the TV could see me. I’m not very tech-savvy.
It’s ironic because, as my friends know, I’m connected a lot of the time (still don’t have the phone, but contemplating). My role as teacher librarian in finding and setting up the most interesting, relevant and engaging resources is made possible only by the enormous amount of time I spend online connecting with people and organisations, asking questions, joining discussions, saving it all to Diigo and Vodpod, sharing it with people.
It’s interesting to note the emerging learning styles of young people, on the whole, demonstrate an independence we never had. Connected, they find what they need to do what they want. We get on their nerves because we are helpless and think we need someone to tell us how to do something. They google, youtube, and whatever else, or even create videos to teach us, just to get us off their backs.
As educators, it would be nice if we let go of the traditional teaching/preaching approach, gave our students some credit, trust and space, and allowed them to learn actively by taking charge of the research/learning process. Instead of us teaching them, they could create teaching videos for each other. I hope to try and turn around some of the learning and teaching in the classroom this year.