It’s not about the device…

There has been a big movement in the last months in educational technology that is based on this concept:

“It's not about the device, it is what you do with the device that matters.”

Interestingly, one of the bloggers I have used as a source in the past, Richard Wells, is changing his blog (and Twitter handle) from iPad4Schools to Eduwells.

I find myself on both sides of the movement. My blog, from the start, has been about technology in music education, and my first book (which I am going to begin updating), Practical Technology for Music Education, looks at technology in a larger sense in music education. While I am an “iPad Apologist” in music education, I have always seen my role as helping any teacher (music or otherwise) with technology, but doing so from a persepective of what has worked for me. I have also spent a small amount of money making sure that I have at least one of each “major” platform at my fingertips so I can research problems and questions from readers. The one exception is StaffPad, which really only works with the Surface 3 (or newer) or any Surface Pro–and I find myself unwilling to buy a $1100 device for a single program, particularly when there are other devices I need or want.

I suppose that a education technology expert that has “cornered” themselves as a “single device” expert might find themselves at a point where they want to be seen more than as “just” an “iPad Expert.” I think that is where Richard Wells is at–and that's okay. I would guess, however, that he still believes in the iPad.

This movement also shows the dominance of Chromebooks in education. Sure, iPads are still in schools, and they are still selling in schools. However, if you are considered an “iPad Expert,” is a school/district going to hire you to offer professional development if they are a Chromebook school? Nope.

All that said, I think it is ludicrious to move to the “the device doesn't matter” side of the line. Devices are NOT created equal, and cannot be used equally in all subjects. The problem lies in a combination of hardware and software inequalities between devices. Even the newest devices (e.g. Chromebook Flip) fail to solve all the problems. This is why BYOD is a false solution. Sure, you can write a paper on any device (although it would be incredibly frustrating to do so on a phone without an external keyboard), but can you do everything else you need to do?

While my goal remains to help teachers regardless of the technology in their room, whether Windows PC, SmartBoard, Promethean, Chromebook, iPad, or anything in between), I still strongly feel the iPad offers the best solutions for music education for the teacher or the student. While there are still some tasks that are best handled on my MacBook, I can travel and teach for a long period of time without having to use a MacBook. I understand that people who own the iPad Pro are experiencing even more freedom from their notebooks computers than I do with my iPad Air 2.

The problem, is, of coruse, that most technology initiatives fail to take what is best for music education into account. Other criteria take control, such as cost, ease of IT management, and the existence of a physical keyboard.

In closing on this Thanksgiving Day, let me express thanks to everyone who reads this blog, is subscribed to the blog, or gets the blog in their e-mail. And if you have bought one of my books, or used a referral link–thank you. Your support is appreciated.

A neat story about the iPad Pro (link to a blog post)

Scott Dawson recently published a blog post that is a guest post from his daughter.  The post is about his daughter’s new iPad Pro. She talks about how she uses the device and her first impressions of the device.   There are unboxing photos and a video of her playing the piano.

It turns out that his daughter saved her money from piano teaching, babysitting, allowance (and some additional early birthday and Christmas presents) to buy an iPad Pro.

She used the 3rd Generation iPad previously, but wanted the larger screen of the iPad Pro.  She also uses an AirTurn controller to turn pages.

Check out the post here.

Blog Post Referral: Viola Jack on the Surface Pro and Music Reading

One of the joys of blogging has been getting to know people with similar interests across the country.  In truth, the number of people who consistently blog about technology and music, or technology and music education, can be counted on two hands, and I have had the pleasure of interacting with all of them and meeting a good number of them.

One of the bloggers I really enjoyed interacting with was ViolaJack, a blogger from California who is a string player/teacher.  She has used iPad in her playing and teaching, but has always been open to Microsoft tablets as well–and she eventually interned with PC Magazine.

She dropped off the blogging world for a few years (she writes about that here), and has recently started posting again.  I have missed her blogging voice, because we share some things in common (a love of music, a love of teaching music, and a desire to integrate technology in music) but we approach technology with different solutions.  It is important to listen to other opinions that do not always match your own!  Plus, she is a great writer (you wouldn’t intern at a technology magazine if you were not good at the craft).

Anyway–her latest blog post is about her use of the Surface Pro 3 for music versus the iPad (3rd Generation).  It is a great read…and I am looking forward to seeing a future post from her about using Xodo Docs as a sheet music reader (she used to favor One Note).

My New eBook – Chromebooks in Music Education

If you follow technology in education, it is clear that the Chromebook has become a primary device in our schools. Many schools are going 1:1 with Chromebooks, sometimes after a multi-device pilot, and sometimes after choosing not to update existing iPads to a newer version of the iPad.

After purchasing a new Chromebook this fall, I decided to write a book about how to integrate iPads in music education. I don't sugar coat the truth–there are better devices for music education, and it can be tricky to integrate Chromebooks into music education. The book includes a list of web apps that can be used in music education, as well as some broad technology integration strategies that can be used in music education. I also included discussions about the exciting developments in the Chromebook, as well as the recent news that might signal the end of the Chromebook as we know it (by Google) as soon as 2017.

At the moment, the book is short and a quick read (79 pages on Kindle). I plan on adding to the book in the future, as I have with my other books. If you buy the book, and you have additional web apps that you would like to see included–or strategies, please send me an e-mail. Additionally, if you see any glaring mistakes, please let me know, too.

Since the Chromebook is not an Apple device, I have published the book on both Amazon (Kindle edition that can be read on any device) and the iBooks Store. The links below are referral links. When you sell a digital book on Amazon or the iBooks Store, you earn 70% as an author. The referral links do not add to the cost of the item, but direct a further percentage of the sale from the company to the individual who refers the book.

Amazon Kindle Store: Chromebooks in Music Education ($4.99)

iBooks Store: Chromebooks in Music Education ($4.99)

And if you are interested in my existing books:

iBooks Store: Practical Technology for Music Education ($9.99)

iBooks Store: iPads in Music Education ($8.99)


iPad Pro Thoughts – On Location

I am currently at the Apple Store at the Mall of America. My boys like to play the demo games in the kids area (my wife and I take turns looking at things), so that gives me a chance to try new products.

 The iPad Pro is simply huge. The tech columns simply can’t make it possible to understand how big it really is.  You need to see it and hold it for yourself. forScore is a demo app on the device, and it looks GREAT on the iPad Pro.  The home screens need to be thought out more–there is simply too much space between the apps.   This will get figured out over time.   The device is fast (I would love to see audio rendering time with Notion).

The Apple Pencil feels great. I only used it for a few minutes, but it works perfectly on the screen, and it is angle aware.  It is a pencil as pen replacement. The only thing I worry about is losing a $100 stylus. 

The new iPad Pro keyboard cover is okay. It works, and you could certainly do real work on the device. I don’t know if I would buy it. With the keyboard cover, the device is bigger than most notebook computers. 

If Apple can put  missing productivity apps on this device (iBooks Author, XCode, Final Cut, and Logic Pro)–which is faster than the new MacBook–this really could become a notebook replacement. 

I think Notion on iPad Pro will be wonderful; you have the potential for much more workable space (compared to the iPad, the iPad Pro version could use less equivalent space for keys and stil have larger keys). 

For me, though, music reading is going to be my primary use for the iPad Pro–and that is why I will eventually buy one (although I would still like to see 3D Touch on the device). It is a good thing that I still need to wait a year. 


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