Wednesday, July 27, 2011

iPad for Music Education - Part 2

Mixeroo Lite - This is a great little app that has the potential to show young school children the different elements that go into a song and a basic level of understanding and skill in mixing. With the Lite Version you get "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" performed by a piano, harp, glockenspiel and oboe while with the full version ($1.99) you get 4 songs (Wheels on the Bus, Itsy Bitsy Spider and Ode to Joy).

As I said, this app has potential but would ultimately fall short on young ears. Teaching mixing to a 2-7 year old I would imagine wouldn't go very far. Also, the sounds used (at least on Twinkle) kind of meld into each other and you have to really do some drastic changes to hear what you're doing.

I would love to see an app like this aimed at 14-16 years olds with rock/pop songs with really basic introductions to compression, noise gates, reverb and delay explained and implemented (that would be fantastic!) but I couldn't find anything like that in my iPad travels. Garageband and ShapeMix scratch the surface but not nearly enough.

I recently mused that people not knowing the behind the scenes of music is part
of the factor for people not caring about music piracy. Think about how many movie behind the scenes featurettes you've seen compared to music behind the scenes. But maybe it's just too long and boring to be made interesting to the casual music lover. ...maybe a thread for another blog...

Miso Music - Potential might be the word of the day. This app turns your iPad into a working guitar with Rock Band style tabs cascading down the frets, sounds good right? Well yes and no. Try holding your iPad like a guitar and do a G chord, not too easy is it?

The pros of this app is the great guitar sounds and the strumming/plucking would give Garageband a run for it's money. The music you can download is surprisingly extensive from The Beatles to Miley Cyrus, you can even get traditional songs like Amazing Grace for free (but not too many) and the store is reminiscent of iTunes and are usually $0.99 each. The instruments you can use are also quite extensive (ukulele, mandolin, banjo, etc).

The cons of this app is the prices of those songs could run up a really hefty bill in the matter of moments, I would've liked to see packages or something. And of course the playing on the iPad issue.

Although! And it's a big although, this app can hear notes you're playing with a real guitar via the microphone or an adapter (either Woodees or iRig or I'm sure you could get a cheapy from eBay by now) and just play like that. Now I haven't been able to do this being without the right equipment but reviews are pretty solid which puts this app in the realm of brilliant. Imagine having a class full of kids practicing to a song or lessons on their own at their own pace.

There is a lot going on in this app so here's a video for all you visual people (although the video reckons this guy learnt Freebird from this app, no professional guitarist doesn't know Freebird already!):

How2Play - Again this is a free app that gives you a taste and then to get more you have to sign up on their website and buy more. Lesson packages being $4.99 each, this gets you about 12 lessons each with backing tracks, video for specific techniques and tabs although this can get pretty steep very quickly (maybe I'm cheap...) with the full beginner package with 6 lesson packages in that making it $30!

In saying that though, they've done a really good job with this app. The free lessons you get show you it's potential and ease of use with the audio being separated into 3 tracks: just guitar, guitar and backing track and just backing track. I could see kids having a lot of fun and learning a lot from this sort of medium and how it's laid out.

Ear For Life - (also lite version) So this app is very similar to the Karajan app in Part 1 of iPad for Music Education and a little bit cheaper, although you can see why straight away. The almost Microsoft Paint style is so exceedingly dull you're amazed that the app even works, but work it does. And it works very well truth be told.

The amount of different options for what you have to choose from in either Chord, Interval and Scale recognition is top notch and it would get extremely difficult for even the most astute of ears. The piano sounds good as well as having choices for arpeggiating the chords but the guitar can sound horrendous at times.

Although it's a little bit cheaper than Karajan it's not worth it. Coming from Karajan to Ear For Life there's just no comparison.

Verdict: Buy Karajan. It's really the best music app from my iPad app whole travels.

Friday, July 22, 2011

iPad Storage/ Trolley Options

The following list of various iPad storage and trolley options was compiled by Jeremy Lane at Patrician Brothers' College Blacktown. He has kindly allowed Learning Exchange to share this information.

While the information has been compiled on the basis of the needs of the Patrician Brothers' College, it will be a useful resource for all schools looking for storage options for their iPads.

Click on the image to be taken to the full document.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Ebooks on iPads - second instalment

Yesterday we attended the Paul, Pearls and iPads workshop at the Childrens Bookshop, Beecroft organised by Julie Walter from Our Lady of the Rosary Primary, Kellyville. 50 teacher librarians discussed, among other other topics, the future of the book.

Paul MacDonald, educator and owner of the Children's Bookshop discussed the range of fantastic print books available, noting that "The Book is not Dead" and instead people are reading for pleasure across a range of media. With Apps like 'The Elements' enticing people to purchase the print version as well.

Kristen McLean, Publishing Perspectives also notes " the book is still highly valued, and that experimentation with digital content will actually expand the market for books". As humans we find something deeply satisfying in the reading of a physical book.... However this is the age of consumer choice, which means accommodating an infinitely variable range of customer behavior, which in turn means serving content in many ways to many people.

Reading in iPad Transmedia universe: five real-world issues notes " we need to expand the types of texts students are exposed to and engaged with at school by turning attention to electronic books, or e-books. Today's readers are immersed in multimodal experiences and, consequently, have a keen awareness of the possibility of combining modes and media to receive and communicate messages." This article has some good ideas on how to incorporate digital media such as ebook apps in reading.

It is hard to find a site devoted to reviewing ebook Apps, however a good site is Kirkus Reviews which have good reviews of the top childrens ebook apps.

Our presentation at the Pauls, Pearls and iPads workshop yesterday about iPad ebook Apps

Engaging students in music with an iPad band

Watch as these students perform an original piece with the iPad through various music Apps like Garage Band. Neil Johnston from demonstrates how you can have a 24 piece band playing music via iPads.

iBand HD | Amazing 24 Piece iPad Performance In School

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Ebooks on iPads: fad or future?

Mindful Learning Mindful Teaching Ning have put together a very good post on using ebook apps in learning: 'Digital Reading on the iPad: Fad or Books in transition'.

They quote Kristen McLean (online, 2009) who suggests that ebooks are potentially highly effective literacy learning tools allowing young readers to : control the story, absorb information visually, immerse themselves in an alternate world, scroll back and forth, touch and point, anticipate developments, and ask thoughtful questions. This creates great analytical skills and an empowered reader, the kind of reader that will hopefully go on to ask better questions of all media, and make thoughtful decisions about what is worthy of their attention.

However they point out that just like traditional print books 'quality matters' for ebook apps.
They suggest you look for books which have engaging narratives, with well developed story lines, strong characterization, contemporary themes as well as rich use of language.

Read more at the Mindful Learning Mindful Teaching Ning. If you are not a member of this Ning you can ask to join when you go to the site.

Some ebooks we can recommend are:

Bartelby's book of buttons (uses the interactive features of the ipad to make this a highly engaging experience)

A Christmas Carol by Padworx - an abridged version of Charles Dickens Classic (steam punk animation brings this beautiful classic alive to a new generation)

Wonkey Donkey (engaging, fun, repetition of words reinforces learning)

Animalia (the beautiful artwork is replicated in this app as well as search for hidden objects.

Rockfords Rock Opera (a unique musical story around the topic of ecology, ecosystems and extinction)

Angelina Ballerina's New Ballet Teacher (includes read to, read by myself, video, a puzzle.)

Cozmo's Day Off (great animations, includes activities)

Managing ipad account use in school

As schools deploy ipads in larger quantities it is even more important to manage the use and access of the apps that are being made available to students on the iPad. Each school needs to make their own decisions about how the control and manage iPad use by students. However, there are a few optioms school may want to consider:

The first thing you can do is set a Passcode Lock on your school iPads via Settings General, to protect your information and data.

Each time you turn on or wake up the device, you will be prompted for the passcode* before you can access applications or information on the device.

Secondly, again in Settings - General - Restrictions you can enable a range of restrictions. Again you will have to enter a 4 digit passcode*.

*Make sure you note down the passcode in case you need to change the settings at any time. If you do forget you only have a certain number of chances to input before you become locked out of your ipad and the only way to get back in is to sync to the computer you have linked as your main account.

You can see step by step instruction at 'How To Setup Parental Controls on iPad (iOS 4.2 Edition)'.

iTunes Accounts
without a credit card
When you first setup an account with iTunes there seems to be no choice but to link your credit card. However, you can select to have no credit card. You can find the instructions here at the Apple Support page: Create an iTunes App Store account without a credit card.

What about if you have already set up an account and you want to remove your crdit card link. You can change your account information to remove your credit card. iTunes Store: Changing Account Information.