As we draw near to the end of 2016, everyone is posting their “year in review” summaries.
While 2016 has been a terrible year for many, and while some bad things happened to my family and I in 2016, generally it was a pretty good year, and we end the year counting our many blessings.
The big story of 2016 in educational technology has been the dominance–or the reported dominance of the Chromebook in education. Chromebooks sessions are the topics people are attending these days, and schools are buying a bunch of them.
If you have Chromebooks, the best solutions are going to cost money in the form of annual subscriptions. The best Chromebook applications are generally the same applications that have been web-based on Windows and Mac for the past years. Look at all of the products that are carried by MusicFirst, along with Flat.io, The New SmartMusic, and SoundTrap.
The best device isn’t a device from 2016–it remains the 12.9″ iPad Pro. We are awaiting a refresh of this model, but the new large iPad is ideal for music educators, particularly when paired with an Apple Pencil and AirPlay wireless mirroring in the classroom.
The two apps that I would recommend as “apps of the year” would be newcomers to the scene: Newzik and Sheet Music Scanner. I have not made the shift to Newzik yet, but they are positioned well as a company that can read PDF files OR MusicXML files. In other words, Newzik is ready for the next generation of digital sheet music. Sheet Music Scanner is a game changer, as it is a relatively small app that is being aggressively updated, and does an incredible job scanning music (although it doesn’t scan everything). As I have mentioned previously, if I have to choose one app for app of the year, it would be Sheet Music Scanner. Sheet Music Scanner completes the ability for me to scan, edit, and export music all from my iPad without having to touch my computer.
In terms of hardware, there haven’t been many new products for music education. I am glad to see the growth (albeit slow) of devices like the CME XKey Air, wonderful bluetooth MIDI keyboards, and the Yamaha bluetooth MIDI adapters. For bluetooth foot pedals and iPad stands, I would recommend AirTurn…although there are a few products from IK Multimedia.
In terms of full-blown notation programs, it has been a big year with a new product (Dorico), major updates (Finale 25 and Notion 6), and regular updates (Sibelius, StaffPad, and MuseScore).
And in classroom music, we have seen the introduction of Music First, Jr., and well as the continued growth and support from Quaver Music.
As we close out of 2016, I think we are fortunate to have the devices, accessories, and applications that are on the market. For the most part, there is very little that I want to do with technology that I cannot do with solutions that are on the market. It hasn’t always been that way.
I hope 2016 has been a good year for you (even if there have been challenges), and I wish you the best in 2017. Thanks, as always, for stopping by (or subscribing to) and reading this blog.