Presentations at the Minnesota ACDA Summer Dialogue

I had the privilege to present two sessions at the Minnesota ACDA Summer Dialogue.  I had a great time presenting and later visiting with my colleagues.  Both sessions, very iPad-centric, were well attended and well received.  A number of directors had iPads in their hands, a few more are going to buy them, and two directors were fortunate enough to teach in 1:1 iPad schools.  As a person that lives at that famous “intersection of the arts and technology,” it is exciting to see the colleagues in my profession be so willing to consider and acquire this technology.  As I mentioned in my sessions, the iPad represents the first device that actually makes sense for all uses in the choral rehearsal, and it is flexible enough to be used in any number of ways (teacher only, small set of iPad, classroom iPads, or 1:1 environments).

If you attended the session and have questions, please feel free to e-mail me at the address to the right (sorry about spacing out gmail, but this reduces spam mail).  I will always do my best to get back to you.  I should also reiterate that these presentations and this blog represent my opinions.  I am convinced that of all the current technology on the market, the iPad is the way to go.  But you (or your colleagues) may have another plan or approach–or your administration or IT staff may simply ban this technology from your music program.  If you are in the former situation, I always encourage you to use what works for you.  It you are in the latter situation, you’re going to need to educate your administration and IT staff (our district IT director laughed at my iPad in April 2010).  As I mentioned in the first session I presented, the first step of adoption technology is exposure–the next step is procurement, which can be a very difficult step.

The first session was an exposure to the iPad in choir, entitled: “The iChoir: Are you ready for it?”

The second session was a how-to, focusing on general iPad use, forScore, Scanning, and just a bit about mirroring, Noteshelf, and Keynote.  I use forScore as a representative program for all the PDF music readers that are available.

I was wirelessly mirroring to my MacBook using the app called Reflection.  I wasn’t sure of the bandwidth at the University, as well as whether the network would support Apple services, so I created an Ad Hoc network on my MacBook which allowed me to mirror from my iPad to the MacBook to the projector in the auditorium.

I was asked a couple of questions after (or during) the sessions that I wanted to address again.

1) Wireless mirroring: If you want to mirror, you will need an iPad 2 or newer.  You will either need to mirror to an AppleTV or to a notebook (PC or Mac) using Reflection or Airserver.  If you have an older projector, you will need a dongle (look up the Kanex ATV Pro) to convert HDMI to VGA.  And you will need to check with your IT department in your school to make sure that the wireless network and wired networks (if attempting to stream to a computer “wired” to a network) share the same core IP address, that the wireless network is open to the Apple wireless protocols, and that your network has the bandwidth (N) that you would need.  If that sounds like a foreign language to you, copy and paste it to your IT person, and they’ll be able to decipher that.

2. I was asked about the sustainability and affordability of iPad initiatives if iPads only last 1 year.  First, only the iPad 1 is being phased out this year with the new iOS update this year, and my guess is that most apps will continue to work on iOS 5 and the iPad 1.  The iPad 1 lacks a number of features of later iPads (camera, wireless mirroring, graphics processors), and the iPad 2 was enough of a revolutionary update that the iPad 1 should be left behind that this point.  I can’t guarantee anything, but because the newest iPad was a evolutionary update (in fact, the new iPad can actually run slightly slower than the iPad 2…the main update was an incredible display and better camera), my guess is that the iPad 2 will be eligible for iOS 7 in a year, and maybe even iOS 8 in two.  We’ll have to see.

At any rate, I think the idea of schools providing iPads is going to fade away quickly…the cost is too prohibitive.  Think about it: if spending $600 per student was sustainable, wouldn’t we have purchased cheap notebooks for all students over the past 10 years?  It’s more complicated than that, but it’s a starting point to consider.  There will always be a market for used iPads (I plan on letting my IT department know that I will take any and all iPad 1s that administrators in our district no longer want) unlike some used computers.  My feeling is that students will be asked to provide iPads in place of paper, pens, pencils, notebooks, folders, graphing calculators, and schools will provide the content for those devices.  And we’ll always find ways to provide for students that cannot afford those items.

3. One director shared that their school installed wi-fi and are banning students from bringing technology to the school.  That’s hilarious, because if their network has a public access point, they’re going to find out that kids have technology anyway.  At our school of 1900 people (students and staff), we regularly have over 2000 devices on our network.  Truthfully–if you think your kids aren’t texting or twittering during your choir rehearsals, you’re fooling yourself.  They just hide it well.  I wish that director the best as they fight this one out with their administration.

4.  iPads are highly personal devices that work best (in education) in 1:1 settings, but as a director you can make great use out of having one iPad while your class does not.  If you school allows it, I encourage you to let students bring in their own iPads.  You can also look at getting a small number of iPad that can be used for sectionals, solo preparation (put all of your vocal literature books on them), eventually for assessment (whenever SmartMusic for iPad is released, and with Chromatik this fall), and perhaps even in rehearsals as a reward for proper behavior (kids get to use the iPad in class for a week or two).

It was a pleasure to present at Dialogue and to be able to spend time with my colleagues.  I wish you the best as you attempt to transform tradition in choral music.  Your questions are always welcome.

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