Teachers all understand the importance of saving even a few keystrokes, a few seconds, in front of a class of middle students! The more that technology takes a back seat in a lesson plan the better off we all are. If the tech isn't bringing attention to itself but the students learning is front and center then the tech is in the right place.
That means that we must become very comfortable with the tech we are using, we can not be stumbling and fumbling to make things happen. It also means that any shortcut we can use to get technology working faster and smoother is a good idea.
Launch Center Pro for iPad and iPhone has a simple mission statement that fits the above criteria…. “Launch actions, not just apps!” Think about it…. Why do we launch an app in the first place? We launch apps to do things. That means that once the app launches we then start tapping more buttons to do that “thing”.
I message parents frequently but I usually wait until after class…. What if I could speed that task up and send a message faster? Would I communicate even more?
I like to tweet about exciting learning taking place in class but opening the camera, then taking a picture, then opening Twitter to send the tweet is quite a few steps. What if I could do all of that in one step? Would I spread more news about the learning going on in class?
What about taking attendance…. Open Safari, open bookmarks then finally tap the website for school attendance. How about jumping right there?
There have been some outstanding new developments in the world of music for iOS users this past few months!
First has been the actual release of AudioBus for iOS. As they say on the iTunes Store… This is a revolutionary new inter-app audio routing system allowing you to connect your AudioBus compatible apps together with virtual cables. In other words…. I can be playing a synth on my iPad, like Magellan, and record it into my MultiTrack DAW on the same iPad! This opens up very different possibilities of being able to record from a long list of currently compatable apps into other apps on one iPad instead of having to have two devices or using audio copy/paste. Check out their website for currently compatible apps as the list is changing almost daily!
In the late 80‘s I remember spending many hours programming keyboards for the ministry team at college that I was involved in. It was great fun to get inside of a synth patch and make all sorts of tweaks to it to come up with a new patch that was my own. Little did I imagine then, that I would be able to do this on an iPad with a color, touch screen! Check out the list of apps othe AudioBus page. I think there are some outstanding apps there that will make some outstanding music! Imagine if we could get these apps into the hands of our students in a non-traditional music class!
Another major development is the development of apps that allow your creativity to fly to new heights! One of those apps that blew me away today is Audiolus. Audulud is a modular synthesis app that is available for the iPad as well as the Mac. This app allows you to create synth sounds from scratch, one step at a time! I can not begin to imagine the possibilities of this app in a music class combined with science concepts being integrated all in one mega fun unit! Your science teacher and you, the music teacher, could have a hay day with this app! You have got to watch the tutorials on their tutorial page! This tutorial in particular floored me when I started to get a grasp on what this app is capable of…. I love how it starts with a demonstration of the outcome and then it takes you back step by step to build the patch starting from absolutely nothing! (Wait…. isn’t that the model for a great lesson plan?)
Lastly, I would like to leave you with a couple of great examples of amazing performances from people who are truly creating amazing music using iOS and iPads/iPhones. Both of these groups have active YouTube channels that I would suggest you subscribing to
The first person is Rheyne – Rheyne uses live looping with analog keyboards, USB controllers and iOS devices. The videos on his channel are all performed live! The integration he has between all the apps and devices is stunning! His music is digital and does not attempt to re-create an acoustic instrument performance!
The second group is the DigiEnsemble Berlin – This is a group of professional musicians trying to turn mobile devices into instruments. This group has music of both the electronic nature as well as classical and everything in between. You can see them recreating a classical string ensmeble using iphones and ipads for instance or performing Starlight (from the alternative rock band Muse) and then performing a magical, musical interpretation of Silent Night.
This sort of musical creativity needs to be taught in our schools alongside the traditional Band, Choir and General Music classes. Of course that means new classes need to be created and staffed! The biggest reason we need these sort of classes is that our students would be forced to become the innovators, the ones creating and designing the final product. There are not many programs like these in place yet so the development of this type of course is going to muddy water and the learning process will be messy. Let’s wade in and get dirty!
For those of you like me who work in a school where there are Windows computer all around you but you have an iPad you are using in the classroom there is now another tool available to make the use of that iPad more effective!
The ReflectionApp has now been updated to work with Windows XP! For those of you that are not quite sure what I am talking about let me fill you in. How often have you had something on your iPad that you wanted to show your entire class or maybe you had a Keynote you wanted to show the Board of Education? Of course if you have a projector in the room you can use Apple’s little dongle to hook the iPad directly to the projector. Believe me, back when this capability came out there was much rejoicing! The problem is that meant you had to take time to walk up front of your classroom, hook the cord up, and then you had to pray that the adaptor did not come out! The better solution has been to use an Apple TV hooked up to the projector. That meant you could wirelessly show whatever was on your iPad to the classroom, instantly from wherever in the room you wanted to be. The problem with the Apple TV was that you had to have a projector with an HDMI plugin or buy an adaptor.
This past spring two other options became available. Both are software solutions. AirServerApp and ReflectionApp. When the software came out there was only Mac versions, which did those of us living in a PC school no options. Then AirServer came out with a Windows version that mirrored (no audio yet) but you had to have Windows 7 or Vista. OF course my school is still running Windows XP. Now though the ReflectionApp has been updated with the ability to run on Windows XP or higher! You can buy one license for $15 or 5 licenses for $50. The app on a Mac is very efficient and very easy to install and use. I have used it in class for the past few months as well at home and I love it! I have not been able to try it on the Windows machines at school yet so I can not tell you how well it works. If someone out there HAS tried it please leave a comment below and let us know how it works.
Being able to show your entire class what is on your iPad opens a whole new world of possibilities for the one iPad classroom. Being able to do that wirelessly and quickly makes it very useable.