When a student forgets a password a teacher may need to look up some information or the student needs to reset their password and wait for a response. Either way, this causes disruption to the class and the student's ability to complete the task. Applications that use a single sign on of Google or Microsoft Education Account or the school's Learning Management System (LMS) avoid this issue as students don't need to remember extra passwords. Also, class lists are not required, ensuring each student has access to this application.
When a student doesn't bring their laptop to class, they need to borrow one from IT. This can be an issue if the application needs to be installed as it may not be installed on the borrowed laptop. If the school has a policy of 'Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)' the borrowed laptop may not be familiar to the student who then has difficulty in running the application. Applications that are browser-based with nothing to install are best to ensure this issue causes the minimum of fuss in getting the student working quickly.
When a student is not familiar with computers (generally Primary-aged) it is best to be using an application that is simple to access. Most students will be familiar with accessing a web browser, so browser-based applications will be more easily accessed.
When a teacher is apprehensive about using technology it is best to be using an application that runs in the browser with nothing to install. If the application needs to be installed, the teacher may have a new laptop and this application has not been installed yet, or it is not compatible with this laptop or it has been installed incorrectly. Again, with single sign on it minimises the chance of teachers forgetting their password to access the application.
Applications that store work in an unsecure database means that students' work can be hacked or lost. By using a Google or Microsoft Education Account all work is stored in the cloud (Google/One Drive) and is private and secure, and can be accessed anytime, anywhere.
If the school policy is BYOD then the application needs to be compatible with the various platforms that the school policy allows. This normally means that the application must be available for PC, Mac and Chromebook and possibly tablets or iPads. Because Chromebooks generally don't allow installation of applications, those that work directly in the browser with nothing to install are best, as this makes them compatible with all devices.
Because music is quite diverse covering many different types of activities, it may be necessary to run several applications in order to cover the full curriculum. This may mean that the teacher needs to become familiar with multiple applications and these applications may not communicate with each other so student results may need to be consolidated at report time. Try to find an application that covers multiple topics to minimise the learning curve and consolidation of results.
If the application is just a tool, in order to deliver the music curriculum, the teacher needs to develop lessons that use the application. It is much better to be using an application that includes lessons, and preferably ones that align to the curriculum with suggested year levels so the preparation time for the teacher is minimised.
If a school is using Google Classroom or an LMS, it is best to find an application that is compatible with this environment to make the deploying of lessons easy.
If the assignments have only one correct answer such as aural or music theory activities, the software should automatically mark the assignments and store the results. If the assignments are creative such as a composition, the assigment should contain a rubric to guide the teacher and students on how this assignment will be marked.
MIDI is an acronym for Musical Instrument Digital Interface and is a universally accepted standard that electronic instruments such as synthesizers, drum machines and sound modules use to communicate with each other and with computers. Digital information such as music notes are transmitted and it is the receiving device that causes these notes to sound.
The MIDI Association (MIDI.org) in a recent article, recognized Mastering Music as being one of the leaders in the use of technology in the classroom to teach music. While the article focuses on the use of Chromebooks where installation is generally not allowed, Mastering Music, being a browser-based application means that teachers and students have immediate access to the lessons on all devices including cloud-based results, thus providing peace of mind in regard to privacy and security.
The MIDI Association also ran a webinar recently on this topic and the one hour recording is available here.