How I’ve been using tablets in my classroom

imageIt’s been a year since I started using iPads in my classroom. Then Android wasn’t an option because there weren’t any good music-making apps.  Now there’s  FL Studio and Audio Evolution Mobile to name just two, so I recommend investigating particularly as they are so much cheaper. However I think iPads still have the edge. 

How I started…

I borrowed 15 iPads from my LEA, the idea was that if I could demonstrate how they could be used to enhance musical learning then perhaps we could buy a set of our own sometime in the future (it worked).



First thing I did was to set them all up on one iTunes account and download GarageBand. If you haven’t tried GarageBand on the iPad it’s awesome, designed for portable music making and it has some very different features to the desktop version. Then I used a feature called ‘Guided Access, this can lock the iPad to one app, so if you open GarageBand and start ‘guided access’ then that’s the only thing that your students can use. So my students weren’t using an iPad they were using just GarageBand, cutting out all the distractions.

Now we have our own set of iPads, I’ve setup a school iTunes account which allows us to buy apps in bulk at about a 50% discount through the Volume Purchase Program. All of our iPads are synced using a Mobile Device Manager (MDM) called Meraki, it’s completely free and worth trying out. I still find managing the iPads complicated and kids will always find ways of changing settings, until Apple allow more control over their devices (perhaps a reason to try Android?).


I’d been piloting the Musical Futures Find Your Voice approach with my classes and they had started to create four chord mashups in groups. So I started experimenting using iPads in different ways to see what would happen.

Group performance…

Sequencing & Multitrack Recording…

My thinking now…

Tablets, they’re just a tool. 

I don’t see why you would want to do an iPad or tablet scheme? The iPad has some great musical apps and synth emulators e.g. the Minimoog, they look & sound great but if a child only has 90hrs of music lessons at KS3 surely there are more important things to be doing with that time?

Now I have a set of iPads I can look at what schemes I’m doing and how the students can use them to enhance/improve their music making. The diagram below is from a great blogpost by Mark Anderson (@ICTevangelist). I’m hoping I’m somewhere near point 3.

A tablet is a musical sketchpad…

At GCSE or beyond I don’t like students to begin composing on a computer,  it gives them too many options to mess around with timbres and effects before they have even come up with the musical ideas. Having a tablet allows you to compose and record ideas anywhere. So instead of going to the computer to come up with your musical ideas you take the computer to where you are developing your ideas.

At KS3 we only have one dedicated practical classroom so if we want to do group work, then we have to use the cupboard, corridor and stairwell too. GarageBand on the iPad is amazing for quickly and easily developing musical ideas. It also allows students to remember/continue their work from last lesson which makes them a lot more efficient and improves their musical outcomes.

Feedback & Assessment…

I’ve just started using the Showbie app in most of my KS3 lessons. It allows students to upload audio/video recordings of their groupwork/performances and send them to me. I can then play them back to the class and give written/verbal feedback. Students can then listen back to their performances, read/listen to my feedback and use that to improve their work.

For more info on Showbie and other ways of using tech for feedback and reflection check out another one of @ICTevangelist’s blog posts- DiRTy Technology



5 thoughts on “How I’ve been using tablets in my classroom

  1. Love that you’ve incorporated tech into music learning – kudos to you. We developed dlp music books to reach today’s learners. The tech is already in place for musiceds to use, now it’s up to all of us to take advantage of the opportunity to reach out and create more music makers of all levels and across all demographics. Cool post! Kudos from dlp in Dallas.

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