Friday, May 3, 2013

Notes take Flight

I have been intrigued by Noteflight, a web-based tool for composition for about a year, but it was not until recently that I have had the chance to use it with students.

For those who have used Sibelius or Finale, working in Noteflight is very intuitive.  But let's be honest - Sibelius 2 offered me pretty much everything I needed as a teacher (when I first used Sibelius 2, I was a high school choral teacher arranging for show choir).  Over the years, there have been great upgrades to composition software, but they are expensive, even for the student versions.  It was only a matter of time until something simpler, less expensive, student-focused, and more collaborative came along.

So here are my experiences with Noteflight in the first few weeks of use with my 8th grade general music class:
Noteflight Classroom options

• Yes, you could try to go the "free" route, but that gives each person a limited number of scores and the Terms of Use say it is not for children under the age of 13.
Trust me - the features offered with the educational version are outstanding.  Ordering through a purchase order was incredibly fast and easy.  There is nothing I can find about age restrictions in the Classroom version.

• Setting up a classroom was very easy - you just enter user names and passwords for every student in your virtual classroom.  You can set each student to a simple password and have Noteflight prompt them to change it, but I put in each student's district username and password.  I also choose to not allow my students access to the Noteflight forums.

• When you purchase a classroom license, you set up a closed community just for your students.  If your district uses Google Apps, the sharing options of Noteflight Classroom feel very Google-ish to both teachers and students.  You get a web address that looks something like this:
Noteflight's teacher homescreen
Teachers can create and assign projects, and when students complete the assignment, it is automatically sent back to the teacher's account.  You can share scores with selected individuals or the entire class.  Students can choose to share with just selected people in the classroom or the entire class.  Editing, viewing, and commenting rights are very similar as well.

• One problem I see coming is when more teachers in my district start using Noteflight classroom, what will we do?  I hold the teacher account, but could have up to 250 students connected in one classroom at our license level.  If other teachers or classes wanted to start trying it, it could get quite messy.  Of course, Noteflight has options for multiple classes which cost more money.

• I am pretty sure Noteflight is supposed to work on mobile devices, but I have not been able to get it to work yet on iPads or iPhones.  I have not had any problem on laptops or desktops (both PC and Mac) and since Noteflight lives in the "cloud" students can work from home as well.

My next blog will be about what I have done with students so far using Noteflight.

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