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School of Rock harmonizes with new students thanks to a mix of tablets

by Michael Singer

April 22 2013

Evan Trent says tablets add to the school's music education program for all ages and for a lifetime of music education and appreciation.
Evan Trent says tablets add to the school's music education program for all ages and for a lifetime of music education and appreciation.

While guitars, drums and microphones are the standard tools for School of Rock students, tablets are helping the organization’s after-school program keep up with the times, reach a new generation of musicians and turn up the volume to 11.

Evan Trent can’t help but hum a few bars of of the classic Jimi Hendrix ballad “Little Wing,” these days. The senior vice president of corporate development is spending his time talking about a new early music education program the school just launched that reaches out to preschool aged children.

The program, launched in January, introduces young minds to basic music concepts through a playful interactive music game for iPad with an animated bird named “Little Wing.” Kids using the game will learn about music notes by interacting with the sights and sounds on the tablet. School of Rock, which operates more than 100 schools in 26 states, Brazil, Canada and Mexico, says it is working with preschools in the areas it operates to bring the music to the students.

“Tablets lend themselves better to audio-visual playback, and to "show and tell" in a classroom environment, they really are a superior choice for us vs. laptops,” Trent told Tabtimes. “To be clear we use laptops extensively, and actually are a big proponent and early adopter of Google Chromebooks as well so it's not a binary choice here. But specifically for Little Wing, and also for instructors in the core School of Rock program, the tablet is a better fit.”

Teaching with iPads and other Android-based tablets allows students to touch and drag images on the screen to illustrate concepts such as the "melodic curve" (changes in song pitch). Using tablets are also just easier to tuck it under your arm and walk around the classroom, especially with a smaller 7-inch tablet, Trend added.

Campus-wide adoption

School of Rock’s position on tablets extends throughout its campuses. The School operates in a BYOD hybrid situation. Some tablets are company owned, some are owned by the franchise schools and there are others that students bring from home. The devices are a mix of corporate apps and documents as well as BYOD

“At the moment we are pretty heavily dominated by iOS because we haven't developed any proprietary Android or Windows 8 apps,” Trent says. “However we are technically agnostic in that our infrastructure supports any tablet and OS, and we allow people to use whatever device they like.”

To best manage its corporate networks, School of Rock uses AirWatch for mobile device management (MDM) and mobile app management. The Little Wing app is provisioned only to authorized School of Rock personnel for instructional purposes, Trent says.

“Teachers must DocuSign an IT non-disclosure agreement/code of conduct, and be onboarded into our systems, and then we enroll their device in MDM and push the app to their device along with a profile with some settings,” he says. “If there is a breach or an HR issue, or if the person departs the org, we do an enterprise wipe and peel back any apps or data associated with the AirWatch instance, leaving personal data/apps intact.”

In this way Trent says the school is able to preserve its intellectual property and ensure that it does not leave the organization.

In the meantime, Trent says he’s looking forward to the impact the iPads in the Little Wing program will have in build a fun learning experience by employing strong teamwork and cooperative learning.

(Evan Trent is speaking at the upcoming TabTimes TABLET STRATEGY conference taking place in New York at the Dream Downtown hotel on April 30. Other speakers include execs from American Airlines and Aetna Health. You only have one week to register. if you are involved in managing or deploying tablets for your organization, you should request one of the precious few remaining free passes.)

Michael Singer is the Business Editor for TabTimes

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