Recent Thoughts…

I have a few thoughts I wanted to share, each which doesn’t justify a post of its own (at least, not yet)

  • I’ve read about a few schools going MacBook 1-to-1 versus iPad lately. Any technology initiative can be made to work, and MacBooks are wonderful machines. However, any notebook initiative automatically guarantees that the initiative will not impact all subject areas. Notebooks are probably ideal for “core” subjects, where as the iPad can be adapted for every subject. So if IT, administration, and school boards decide that notebooks are the way to go, I’m fine with that as long as they are also willing to say that their focus is mainly the integration of technology for “core” subjects (and I do not mean the 21st Century Core, which includes the arts).
  • Another thought about going MacBook, in particular, over iPad. Entry level MacBook Airs for education are $899. There might be a slight discount, but in truth, Apple doesn’t offer much of a discount to educational institutions, as some other vendors might. By the time that you add licensed software to each MacBook, your starting price per computer will probably be in the $1000 (or more, depending on the exact MacBook). I’ve been reading some studies, and it appears that the iPad 2 is just as fast (sometimes faster) than the new iPad. Don’t get me wrong, I’d like a new iPad…but in terms of performance, the new iPad was about graphics. The next jump in speed will come with the 4th Generation iPad in March of 2013 (if release dates stay consistent). You can purchase a refurbished iPad for $319, and outfit that iPad with a full compliment of apps (at full price, not at educational discounts) for $50 each. That means that you could outfit twice as many iPads for your school as you could with MacBooks. You could contact Zagg and purchase Zaggfolios for each of those iPads (I’m sure at a discount) and STILL be under the 2-for-1 dollar value. The bigger question is “What programs does a traditional notebook run than an iPad cannot, which would cause a school district to go with a 1-to-1 notebook initiative over an iPad initiative?” Yes, there are specialized classes with specific needs (Project Lead the Way Biomedical and Engineering, for example), but with the saved dollars on an iPad initiative, you could outfit those special classes with labs. There might be a question about the longevity of iPads, but older devices could certainly be passed down the educational chain or sold (to students, parents, or via auction) to continue to fund newer devices. I’m still convinced that the best model is to have parents/families provide iPads and for schools to provide required apps and iBooks.
  • In just a couple of days, I’ll be giving my mother her mother’s day present of a 16GB iPad 2. I’m also giving my dad an HP TouchPad for father’s day. The TouchPad was my stepson’s to use, but he never used it, even with Android on the device. He always opts for his iPod Touch, and would opt for an iPad over the iPod Touch (we’re not going there–yet). I’m looking forward to giving my mom an iPad, as my dad bought her a netbook that she can’t even figure out how to use (it was more of a gift for my dad, even though he bought it for my mom). Dad is getting the TouchPad because he’s a traditional PC tinkerer that will enjoy putting Android on the device. We bought my Dad an iPhone in the past, so he has a general idea of how to use iOS. But Apple isn’t his thing. The iPad will become my mom’s thing. The iPad will be lighter than her Bible! We even bought her an iPad 2 case from Monoprice so the device is protected. We also bought my mother-in-law a new iPad (she had an iPad 1), and now my father-in-law has an iPad to use, too.
  • In reverting my stepson’s TouchPad to stock HP WebOS, I updated my own TouchPad to the latest version of Android ICS via Rootzwiki. I continue to believe that iOS is winning. Android works, and you can’t deny it, but it isn’t as intuitive as the iPad, and although it has most of the same games as the iPad, the Android lacks decent options for “productivity” that the iPad has–both for music and for other areas of education. I still contend that the only reason you should buy an Android tablet over a refurbished $319 iPad 2 is if you hate Apple products, or you specifically want a seven inch screen (i.e. Kindle Fire). If you find yourself in either of those two camps, I don’t blame you for not choosing the iPad.
  • I have a student who brought in an anthology of musical theater selections for Heroes and Villains. In dealing with that book, I’m reminded what a joy it is to use the iPad as a sheet music reader without dealing with new books, page turns, or the weight of a large book! Once you start using the iPad for this purpose, you take it for granted!
  • The Kanex ATV Pro continues to work wonderfully, converting the Apple TV HDMI output to VGA. In my opinion, it is a highly recommended accessory if you need to project an Apple TV to a non-HDMI projector.
  • Last week I had the privilege to attend a planning meeting for music technology offerings for a summer session at the Perpich Center for the Arts. I very much enjoy getting together with colleagues that share the same passion for technology and music education that I do. It was also great to visit a bit with Roger Whaley, author of the Band Ed Tool Shed and middle school band director/technology person. I said this at the meeting, but I find that the music educators that are the most interested in technology are also the most collegial teachers I have ever met.
  • MakeMusic has created a survey on Facebook to gather feedback about what features should be considered for an iPad version of SmartMusic. Although I’m not a huge fan of using Facebook for the survey (ultimately, I’m distrustful of Facebook as a whole), if you are on Facebook, log in and make your opinions known!
  • Finally…for those of you who are elementary music educators or have smaller children, At Play Music released their first app, focusing on the recorder ($3.99). I first saw their product last summer, where they were designing computer based “cartoons” to teach students how to play music. Since that time, they have changed gears and moved their approach to the iPad–VERY smart. Sadly, the app is a little beyond my four year old, so I can’t report on how it works, but I will say that my four year old has been captivated by the app and we bought some recorders at Target ($2.99 in the toy area). I still need to spend more time with the app, but I will say that if you combine this app with the JoyTunes Recorder Master app (Free), you will walk away with a great instructional package for the recorder. Yes, get both apps. Last year, At Play Music was looking at making interactive cartoons for many instruments, so I think the recorder is just a start. It’s $3.99–if you teach recorder or have small children with recorders, buy the app today. I’ll be writing a review in the future, most likely after the next busy week of school (concert and graduation in the works).



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