PC Vs Mac: Music Technology in Schools

PC & Mac

Action: please forward this post to any music teachers who have classroom experience of using compositional software such as Logic or CuBase with pupils? Please invite them to comment and build the evidence. The opinion of those that have used both environments would be invaluable.


At my school we have received an IT bid for the music technology room to be replenished with Macs rather than PCs. The machines need updating anyway, and the added cost would be circa £5.5k, including Logic music composition software. I’ve dealt with this issue before. The influence on the decision at that time was to go with the *PR* factor and purchase Macs, theoretically making the school more inviting to prospective pupils, parents and teachers, but, in part I felt I was caving in to pressure from music teachers evangelising this option without them having any significant experience actually using the targeted software. My questions at the time were:

  1. Does the different machine actually make any difference to the intended learning outcomes – what the pupils can produce with the software?
  2. Do we have Mac expertise in the department already, specifically in the music composition software as oppose to CuBase, which they had been using for a few years?
  3. Are we going to be able to handle the introduction of OSX onto the school network?
  4. What are the hidden costs of this transition, including technician time (which, in theory, would mean a technician or two attending training on bringing Macs onto the network)?

I do not wish to discuss school business openly on the web, so I will aim to keep this generic.

My real problem is I do not know the software well enough to provide informed comment: for me, the unknown unknowns are… unknown. So, I asked on twitter and facebook, and here I will collate the answers and possibly seek out some more advice from those who do know.


Twitter replies

Responses from various teachers and a former pupil

Twitter summary: Mostly those with experience of the software in a classroom environment are saying that Macs are better. There is also a note about neither offering anything in particular above the other.


Facebook replies

[NB: I have anonymised these because my Facebook wall is private, and, therefore, those that post on it do not necessarily do so as though it is public.]

Former colleague: Necessary as better programmes. I was head of creative arts in a school and music was one of the subjects I line managed and I had to fight for funding to get macs and lap tops. It all depends on which programmes your music dept want to use. I do remember having lots of problems with the Macs on the network. [Didn’t actually use the software, but worked directly with those who did and positive]

A teacher friend: We had them, and would really recommend them. Great software, and while not completely industry standard, we argued that it was worth providing that experience for our students, especially those on the music technology course. It’s worth looking at getting a macmini server to act as a backup system and, maybe, as a link back to your school network as well. Give me a holler if I can help any more. [Didn’t actually use the software, but worked directly with those who did and positive]

Agreeing with teacher above, IT technical expertI’m with [teacher above] on this and they don’t have to be too much of a nightmare. Your tech team have enough contacts in Northants who use Macs in schools if you need to chat to anyone locally. [Helpful if we go ahead]

Another teacher friend: To qualify – Sibelius is best used as standalone software. GarageBand on the other hand doesn’t require macs. Our biggest issues are with macs on our network. As standalone devices – they win – but this is not ideal in a school environment. I suspect you really want to know if the software and tasks in music means that using macs are better than PCs. We’ve had both, and I’d say that with what the musos wanted to achieve- the software, midi keyboards and just general user misuse (unplugging devices and swapping them around and then not plugging them back) meant that neither platform edged out the other. [Someone in similar position to me. Didn’t actually use the software, but worked directly with those who did and remains positive]

Musician/peripatetic teacher friend: Personally I’d say that unless you want to run Logic then get PCs and spend the difference on putting SSDs in them. You still have Cubase, Pro Tools, Ableton, Sibelius, Finale, etc, etc etc to choose from and if you really want a picture of some half eaten fruit on your computers I’m sure the art department can put something together. [Interpreting this to mean if you actively *want* Logic. PCs are better choice. This man records music as part of his living]

Maths teacher friend, who has a recording studio at home: Pure PR. U can only run Logic on Mac, but good though it is, it is not necessarily ‘the best’. There are so many pc alternatives that are different to Logic, but in there own way, just as good. I use Ableton Live. [I have had the pleasure of recording in this studio (no, you can’t hear it!) PC fan. Ableton is really good but learning curve is steep]

Another teacher friendCubase does not support network installations – support from the company is non-existent. Plenty of windows alternatives to Logic but they require testing to ensure they don’t follow same rubbish model as Cubase. As for macs – admittedly they are harder to manage via a windows network but that’s no different from running Linux clients over a windows core network. Just set them up properly, learn a few tricks like checking the time hasn’t changed, which prevents AD logins for example and you will be fine. We have two Mac rooms – 1 with iMacs that has been moved around and faffed about with by me for two years and is still going strong. The other has Mac minis and big screens for A Level programming. The iMacs are all dual boot, look great and most importantly for me – minimal physical footprint from desk space and cabling. More than happy to help/ photo room if you want. We have some custom build windows PCs as well that we throw on the laptop desks in the middle of the room for hackdays etc. when buying iMacs go as high as you can in specs as upgrading parts is not worth the hassle. [Someone in similar position to me. Didn’t actually use the software, but worked directly with those who did and remains positive]


Conclusion

Every practising school music teacher who uses Macs in the classroom supports the use of Macs. Although the fact that they actually use them for the purpose in question is strong evidence, it must be noted that they have probably gone through this process themselves and requested Macs be installed, leading to a possible bias.

For reference, I am not a Mac fanboy. I use a Mac at home, PCs in the classroom, Linux in the classroom and at home, an iOS tablet and an Android phone; it is my responsibility to have an overview of all mainstream operating systems and tools. My personal experience of this specialist software is GarageBand on the iPad, CuBase on Windows, and Ableton Live on Windows, but nearly all of it for solo/band recording rather than running on a school network.

More evidence is required. I would very much like to hear from teachers who have used Macs and PCs for composition activities. Sibelius is the same on both, so it comes down to the larger software that affords input from MIDI devices. Your help is very much appreciated, thank you.

Image credit

PC Vs Mac: Music Technology in Schools

Jigsaw24 Apple iPad Conference December 2013

Today I went to Prior Park College in Bath to attend the Jigsaw24 Apple Conference. They do iPads rather than tablets. And have some pretty cool ideas, offer schools excellent support, do great insurance that covers the gap when pupils don’t pay and sell iPad at the lowest cost I have seen. They genuinely seem to be a friendly and effective bunch of people. We have a contract with them, but I am not sure exactly what for as I write – they deal with our ICT Services Department.

It was few in number but interesting. There was no hashtag. These are just my notes lifted from evernote and edited a little. Please forgive the lack of detail in places and haphazard formatting. My thought on the matters arising will come later following an enlightening walk and a coffee with this lovely man I met there (but cannot remember his name; burning moment of shame) and I need to think about it all a bit more.

Source: http://eyedzard.deviantart.com/art/Need-To-Think-Outside-The-Box-202783112 (labelled for re-use on search)
Source: http://eyedzard.deviantart.com/art/Need-To-Think-Outside-The-Box-202783112 (labelled for re-use on search)

Lara Havord

  • Education manager, apple UK (now a team of 6 people – only 6??).
  • iPad can ignite hunger for learning.
  • Apple committed and passionate about education.
  • All about the teaching and learning and the good learning outcomes.
  • Lara ran (still runs??) Regional Training Centres.
  • They are there to provide advice and support to any school that wants it.
  • Close link to schools.
  • Always happy to talk.
  • Use resellers like jigsaw but can contact directly.
  • All about individuals. Learners. Solve problems. Create.
  • Apple Distinguished Educator programme.
  • Research. Looking at impact of tech in schools.
  • Apple.com uk site has evidence on it. (? https://www.apple.com/uk/education/)
  • Hull uni report on research in Scottish schools.
  • And Longfield iPad research report listed by NAACE.
  • ItunesU. Fantastic free resource. Rich store of material created by top educators in the globe.
  • iBooks Author.
  • Referencd SAMR & TPACK.
  • Free apps now include gband and iMovie.
  • But iCloud is the online access winner.
  • Apple TV. AirPlay.
  • Accessibility. Tools and features.
  • Why iPad in education? Lists apps listed above more or less. 95000+ educational apps.
  • But, identify key apps to realise your educational vision.
  • However, education collections exist to help you browse edu apps. iWork stuff.
  • Really about what you do with them and who supports you. RTCs. Apple Professional Development ADP. Resellers.
  • Encouraged to make the most of our apple technology. Get fee training from RTC. Consider ADP.
  • It is all about excellent teaching and learning.

Film. Apple promo for education. ContacT: havord.lara@apple.com

Mike and Paul

  • Flagship trainers. ADEs.
  • Certified APD specialists.Importance of vision and plan course in the apple catalogue.
  • SLT course.
  • Looking for transformational activities going on in case studies? In the evidence?
  • The course looks at how we are going to reach goals, what the goals are and how we might adapt existing plans.
  • Planning how to present those ideas to key stakeholders. Staff. Governors. Parents.

The plan:

  • The goal/aim is the third stage. Recommend 1-2-1 deployment. Evidence supports this.First stage. Where to start. (Class sets, cited as the most difficult way to use iPads in school – oh dear). Often felt to be deemed successful mainly because of novelty shiny value – everyone’s excited. There will be struggle. Mike and Paul are here to support us.The second stage can be hard. Difficult second album analogy overused.Discussion points:
  • Deployment model. Nigel (teacher presenting later) has done this. Splitting them into smaller groups might be better.
  • Technical support demands for class sets that aren’t there for 1-2-1.
  • Esafety.
  • Digital leaders. Staff – cascade existing skills. Largely experiential collaborative learning process. Access on personal basis and in school preferably before using in school.
  • Apps. Paid? Which ones and why? Training plan targeting specific departments and apps.
  • Road ahead vision. Strategy. Tablets around for a while. We can/should plan their use.

Paul

  • Course provides opportunities to get hands on devices.
  • ItunesU. Looks like nice content for classics dept on there.
  • Also interesting resources on iPad in classroom. Subscribed to a couple.

Sarah Paddock. Teacher.

  • On twitter.
  • From prior Park Prep school. Trial for two months. 1-2-1.
  • Made sure infrastructure was good allowing movement between rooms etc.
  • Meraki with MDMA and light speed through jigsaw.
  • VPP.
  • Card free apple IDs for pupils and staff.
  • Apps made via requests.
  • Student workflow solution achieved via google apps.
  • Padagogy wheel mapped to blooms.
  • Pupil, teacher and parent surveys before and after trial.
  • Parent and pupil meeting before and after.
  • Updates throughout the trial.
  • Staff twilight training once a week. Including troubleshooting.
  • Pupil digital leaders meet once a week.

Ian Barker. Latin teacher

  • On twitter.
  • Socrative. Loves it for vocab testing.Digital leaders presenting. Helps with dyslexia because of changing text size. Mind maps like popplet. Apps: book creator. Send to iBooks. Showed his books. Signed contract beforehand. No games 12+. Teacher can look at iPad any time. Pic collage. Next DL. Y7. 2 month trial. Very happy at first. Teaching same material in a different way. Socrative again. Latin. Maths.Explain everything in art. Book creator. Complete topics quicker. Own pace. Prep fun.
  • The trial has been more successful than they had hoped. Jigsaw were a great support. Buying iPads for all staff in Jan 2014. And then think about pupils for next academic year.
  • Questions about Google Drive.sharing folders for each class with subjects in them. Student shares work with teacher which triggers email and prompts marking.Showbie for sharing. Edmodo do as well. Or paid for solutions that give access to network drives on iPads.

Notes from lunch

  • BYOD issues because range of devices meant that intimidation for teachers. Not knowing how to get things going/working. Not same apps etc.
  • Casper MDM. Great means of authentication. Meraki free but bought by Cisco for cloud security tools. MDM might not be sustained.
  • Parental purchase. Parents expect usage of device.
  • iOS7 seems to create issues with lag when streaming video. Jigsaw said this had never happened on previous OS.
  • Also an issue with Apple TVs requiring schools to group these dynamically via Bonjour so you only see those in immediate vicinity.

Lightspeed Systems

  • Est. 1999. In Europe since 2005. Protecting over one million students in UK.
  • Work with all the big players from technical side.
  • Three solutions make up mobile learning essentials…
  • Manage devices
  • Keep safe on internet on school owned devices at home
  • Collaborate with MyBigCampus

Selling points:

  • Commitment to education
  • Educational rich features
  • Comprehensive reporting
  • Focus on mobility, 1:1 or class sets
  • Easy admin, delegate admin down to classroom level.

Mobile device management:

  • Hierarchical design. Delegate admin to teachers in classroom to open or close access to resources, e.g. Turn off cameras.

My Big Campus

  • Learning platform. VLE but new generation.
  • Social networking approach. shared storage. Device apps for access. Public resources, once used on MBC, is categorised and made available through their search engine. Build community of users. Teachers can communicate on EduTalk feature. Linked with web filtering solution so that web access used on site applies. Teacher uses a resource and it’s auto unblocked on school network. Filter works at home as well. Policies granular. Redirects YouTube and Google to education versions. Strict safe search enforced, images blocked are blocked on websites as well. Lockouts for repeat offenders. Email notifications triggered. Overrides is a soft block e.g. Nudity in art will auto trigger reauthentication. Web zones controls what students do on internet in your classroom. White and black list sites possible.
  • Video. Samuel Lister Academy. On youtube.

Paul and Mike again

  • Accessibility features on iPad. Lots of great things for Progress Centre.
  • iBooks. Text book store. Hands on usage of all related features.

 

Nigel. Teacher.

  • Learning spaces. iPad trolley. Vision tables (flat projection). Idea paint on walls.
  • Showed iPad as chopping board video.
  • Class set in music.
  • Learning. Looking at other schools. Trial. Change perceptions.
  • Students. Enjoyed collaboration with google drive and calendar. Independence to get unstuck through web. Find info in seconds when I want it. No incidents of theft or damage, staff embraced project.
  • BYOD mainly web based research. Parental concerns around device liability. Teachers did not use them regularly. Not as well liked as iPads.
  • Geography stand out subject. More academic progress made compared to control group and Geography used the iPads the most.
  • Giving parents iPad options. iPad mini. Ipad2 and iPad air. Bought for FSM pupils.
  • Change team. Group of staff tasked with making his happen. Help to launch to parents and helping to develop pedagogy across subject areas. SAMR model wheel.
  • Video. Book as new technology.
Jigsaw24 Apple iPad Conference December 2013

Tablets 4 Schools 2013 Twitter notes on Storify

I didn’t attend this event. I was lucky enough to receive a personal invite but had already committed myself to another tablet event (much smaller scale) with a company called Jigsaw24 who have some innovative ideas on how to roll out iPad in schools. On the train home I read through the tweets and found Tony Parkin had impartially documented the gist of what was presented. I was going to write up the notes (they’re in my notebook) but time is against me, so here is a storify of the key tweets. All are worth reading from beginning to end, but it is long so I’ll say goodbye here… comments at the bottom should you feel the need!

PS: remember to click *Read next page* link at bottom of storify embed.

 

Tablets 4 Schools 2013 Twitter notes on Storify

Twitter for teachers: CPD

I just sent the text below as an email to all teachers at my school. I feel rather stupid doing it, like I’m blowing my own trumpet or whatever. I wonder if anyone will want to attend? May the farce be with me…

#cleareyesfullheartscan’tlose

tweet tweet

————————————————

Dear all,

I write a little nervously… #bearwith

During the year some of you have expressed an interest in how I use twitter and blogging. Those of you who have had the misfortune to endure my ICT induction session when you arrived at the school will have first-hand knowledge of my unshakable belief that twitter is the best CPD any teacher can have at any level. Why? From my experience it can connect you to teachers all over the world specialising in your subject or discussing teaching and learning and sharing their experiences. I have developed a genuinely valuable network of educators from all over the place. From headteachers to NQTs, professors to consultants, multinationals to entrepreneurs. Twitter is the great levelling playing field upon which many educators, just like you and me, can share and learn.

So, here I take my timid nature in hand, and, on Monday at 16:20, I will be presenting twitter for teachers as I see it (NB: this is not the definitive way because there are many mystical methods to this madness). Venue is ICT2 unless numbers require an alternative, which I very much doubt, but one or two of you might be interested. Please reply to let me know you are coming.

The aim of the session will be to give an overview of what I have done with twitter, answer your questions about twitter, and to try to unveil how you might get started with a twitter account. It is not compulsory. In fact I think we shall call it an unmeeting (I just made that up – it means you can say whatever you like whenever you like and decorum will be maintained by mutual trust).

#suchfun

#nocelebritymediarubbish

Dai

Update: it seems unmeeting is not my creation… http://torchtech.law.nyu.edu/events/it-unmeeting/

Twitter for teachers: CPD

FrogOS at Frog13

Frog13
Frog13

Last Tuesday I attended the Frog Conference for 2013. Frog are a modern and agile company and this event was exceptionally well organised with attention to the wider picture and the detail of delegate needs. Having been invited to join a panel in the afternoon discussing whether or not the ‘traditional’ learning platform is dead, I was treated to a hotel room and a lovely meal with staff and fellow contributors on the Monday evening. Thank you very much to Frog for being such generous and friendly hosts.

All talks and presentations will be available soon here I believe.

So, what are my thoughts on Frog and the announcements that were made? Well, first of all it is important to note that Frog made a great effort to place teaching and learning at the heart of the conference and any delegate would be able to attend presentations on classroom practice or on Frog features being used. I wanted to attend more presentations than I was able to. This is a good thing! Should there be any factual inaccuracies in this post, please let me know and I will correct them.

The good

  • Frog Moments App; text, images and video straight from the app to your frog drive. Could be useful.
  • Frog Drive App; think Google Drive or dropbox style cloud file storage. Potentially an excellent solution for managing files from iOS (Android was not mentioned) onto web.
  • Frog Play; visual grade book that records progress. Couldn’t quite see the detail but it looked to be pretty useful.
  • FrogOS sites look great.
  • Frog Store; a place where all Frog material can be shared. I think it is the intention that this will be like the app store or google play in that some stuff will be free and others at a cost. Quite how this will take shape is not clear.
  • PinPoint; this is a search engine that trawls specific services, e.g. Google images. Interestingly, Google require a payment for inclusion of the image search results because it bypasses their advertising system. Frog will pay this levy, which indicates how highly they value incorporating the rest of the web into their learning platform. Also, because everything is still linked to the web rather than downloaded as an image and re-uploaded into your Frog, Frog are able to track the usage of each resource. This will form part of a rating engine that will ultimately help teachers locate well-used (and therefore better quality?) resources to incorporate into their learning material.

The bad

  • I did not see Frog3 and FrogOS being integrated. For all current Frog schools using Frog3, the major concern is how will all the current Frog work be married with the new Frog? The platforms are written in an entirely different code. The former is not supported on anything other than Windows and Internet Explorer. I was a little disappointed not to see this but when I asked the question on twitter earlier today, the very charming Frogger, Lucy Evans, replied.
Lucy's response to me on twitter
Lucy’s response to me on twitter

 Followed by a further response from the ever-helpful Frogger James Shackley:

James' reply (tweets in reverse order)
James’ reply (tweets in reverse order)

So, it looks like it’s coming – watch this space!

UPDATE 28/6/13, James sent me this video link for Frog3 and FrogOS: http://vimeo.com/69091946

The ugly

  • Other than the two apps demoed on the day, I believe (please correct me if I am wrong) Frog does not work on smartphones despite being HTML5-based. It doesn’t quite render on the screen size as I documented here. Tablets are fine. This could be a deal breaker for BYOD schools that allow the smaller devices to be used in class. Although the two mobile apps do deliver some workflow functionality that will connect to Frog Drive, which have significant potential in incorporating smart phones into your Frog workflow.
  • I’m not concerned about this with one condition: I want there to be a notifications app that delivers your notifications feed from FrogOS onto your handset. Pop-up notifications, with the user able to switch certain ones on and off. For example, if a pupil submits a piece of work or contributes to a forum on one of my courses, I’m not sure I want to be pinged on my phone. However, if they send me a message of some sort, I want to know about it ASAP so my intervention can unblock their progress.

There was a lot of very positive chatter about Frog OS. It looks very impressive because of the simple means of creating content and contacting groups and curating learning. Should you be starting fresh with Frog, FrogOS is definitely worth considering.

The Traditional VLE is dead

I was also invited to be part of a panel discussion questioning whether or not the traditional VLE (as defined by Becta back in the day) is dead. The good news is Frog seem to have a clear understanding that trying to be all things to all users is not the way forward. Learning platforms need to be agile and provide a hub to help all users find what they are looking for in reference to the group of people they are working with. Be that, for example, a class, a year group, or a sports team. There are many ways of doing this but each school will need a hub of some sort where their users will first look for support. Equally, if you would like all your teachers to provide an online element in their work, you need to provide a platform which is set up for them to use. Also, the pupil population need an online presence: school council, student voice, eco-council, sports teams, clubs and societies. All these different groupings, in my experience, want a place where their audience will expect to find their content and communique. A learning platform, such as Frog, delivers this in a simple format to suit a broad range of users. Another reason for having a learning platform is that a teacher who has never used online tools before might well need a school-provided service to get started with. One of the Year Heads at my school was never a big ICT user but has used the launch of Frog in our school as a lever to design pages and update them weekly with news and events and advice for her year group. If the school did not employ a platform of some sort, this would never have happened. The welcome knock-on effect is her increased usage with her classes.

As Gareth Davies mentioned in his opening keynote, other learning platforms are stopping development. It might be they are falling by the wayside. Frog are not; they are growing. You can no longer pretend that the technology is working. You cannot keep telling teachers that this is what must be done. You must provide as flexible a platform as possible to enable your community to build and share and navigate their way through school and through learning. I am in no doubt that Frog are working hard to achieve this with FrogOS. I am anxious to see the integration with Frog 3 but they are working with urgency to get this sorted. I suspect it will not be a perfect solution but a transitional vehicle from the old to the new.

For each school, I think it is important to identify your core purpose for online provision and decide what is right for you. I anticipate we will be sticking with Frog in their mission to be the best learning platform. There are many ways to skin a cat. The traditional VLE is dead in as much as it has evolved into something lighter, faster, and inclusive of all internet-based things. However, this journey of evolution is not a smooth process and it will not have a destination. Right now, the best you may hope for is some stability whilst we teachers continue to develop effective methods of using the internet as part of the staple learning diet.

I have tried to include the most important things from my experience of the day but I will have probably missed a few. If you have any questions I am happy to answer them via the comments.

FrogOS at Frog13