Links mentioned in this episode:
- Apple reference manual: Share GarageBand files
- Apple article about third-party apps and GarageBand project files
- Showbie plan pricing details
- How to Record Your iPad Screen Music Tech Teacher podcast episode 75
- Apple article: How to record your iPad screen
- Katherine Miller’s blog post: Taking Control of Technology with Apple Classroom
- Learn more: The Music Teacher’s Guide to GarageBand on iPad
5 Ways to Collect Your Student GarageBand iPad Files For Assessment
One of the more complex aspects to using the app is how to access the student GarageBand projects so that you can assess them.
When assessing work done in GarageBand, as a teacher you will generally want:
- to be able to hear the work – the sound aspect
- to be able to see the work – the visual aspect – how many tracks were used, how were they arranged, whether the student has made an effort to adjust the levels of the tracks, which ones were created using software instruments (green regions) and which ones are audio (blue regions)
Having both the audio and visual information makes it much easier to assess student work.
Before we talk about the options, it’s important to understand that there are two different types of files that you can collect from students once they have completed their GarageBand project.
The student can either send you:
- an audio-only version of their work which you can listen to
- or a GarageBand project file which you can open up in the GarageBand app, playback and see and hear their work
This is the difference between these two files:
- the mixed down version of the song
- all tracks into one
- MP3 or WAV or AIFF
- sound only – can’t visually see the tracks
- You can open this file in any audio player app or software program that plays audio files – GB, Audacity, iTunes, VLC player etc
Garageband project file
- the actual GarageBand file itself
- can only be opened in GarageBand – not any other app
- all tracks still separate – see the file the way the student did when working on it
- file name ends with .band
- can open in GarageBand for iOS, or GarageBand on your Mac desktop/laptop, but easiest to open it in iOS version
Today’s episode will focus mostly on the ways to send the GarageBand project file itself since this is the harder job.
The reason it’s harder is that when you save a GarageBand project file, you are actually saving a bundle – a collection of audio files and other assets used in the project which are combined into a single file.
Many third-party services and apps – and this includes Dropbox, Google Drive, Box and Microsoft OneDrive do not support GarageBand projects that generate iOS bundles.
So that means it is not possible to have students create a project in GarageBand and then send you the project file – the GarageBand file – by uploading it to Google Classroom or Dropbox or many similar services.
When you are using GarageBand it’s very misleading, because you can see those options inside the GarageBand app. You can even tap Share and select those options in the Share menu.
When you do that though, you’ll just find that things grind to a halt – and even if you do manage to save the file into Drive or Dropbox you’ll find that you can’t open it in GarageBand in order to assess it.
So – what can you do if you want to receive the GarageBand project file from your students?
I’ll talk through some of the options that are available and that also make sense for teachers in a classroom situation where you are working with groups of students.
These are not the only way to send GarageBand files – there are a few other options, but not all are viable for the school situation.
Option 1: Airdrop – student sends GarageBand project file to the teacher via Airdrop
- Airdrop is a feature on iPads with lightning connector that allows you and your students to send files to one another automagically via a combination of bluetooth and wifi
- Student files can be sent to you in this way if you have an iPad or Mac
- Airdrop is super-fast and easy to use but you need to have the student and teacher devices near one another – so it’s only an option during class time
- When you receive files via Airdrop you can choose to open them straight away (you’ll be asked which app to use to open file – choose GarageBand) OR can choose Save To Files and look at it later
- When you open the file you’ve been sent, it will open up in your GarageBand app and you can play it and see all the details
- Level up by doing this with the Classroom app – little known option
- Classroom app is an Apple app that allows you to manage your students, their devices and the work they are doing
- Too much to talk through all the details of using Classroom app during this episode
- Briefly – with Classroom
- set up a class and invite students to join
- then – open an app on all student devices at once
- Lock iPads
- see which app student is using at any time
- distribute a GarageBand file to entire class at once
- gather student files on to your iPad
- When a student sends you a file via Classroom, you can open it straight away or save it to your Files app (if you open it, it’s saved anyway
- Many other benefits to Apple Classroom app
Option 2: Showbie – student sends GarageBand file to teacher via Showbie
- Showbie is a third-party app which allows you to distribute and gather assignments, provide feedback and share student work with parents
- Again, going into lots of detail about Showbie in this episode won’t be possible but it’s an app that’s definitely worth looking at
- As a teacher you can set up classes and add your students
- Then you can set assignments and collect student work via the app
- The reason I’m mentioning it as a good option for GarageBand is that it’s one of the only third-party apps that allows students to upload GarageBand project files in order to share them with the teacher
- Unlike Airdrop, you don’t need to be in close proximity to your students in order to upload or share files so it’s a good option if students need to send you files outside of class time
- Showbie also good app for sharing work that’s going on in the classroom with parents and others and it has lots of other useful features
- Showbie works on iPads, iPhones, any laptops – including Chrombooks and other devices
- There is a free version which has some limitations and you can pay for the full version with more features
The next three options don’t involve you receiving the GarageBand file from the student, but still allow you to see the student project in detail.
These techniques are really useful and you might use them in conjunction with one of the options already mentioned.
Option 3: Student saves an audio file version and takes a screenshot of the GarageBand screen
- Instead of trying to share the GarageBand file, can get students to go to Share menu, choose Song and then select file type and quality.
- Remember – this will give you an audio file which is sound only
- Because this is just the audio file and not the GarageBand project file, they can save it almost anywhere – Google Drive, Dropbox, Showbie, email it, save it to iCloud, send it to another iPad app and many other options
- They can then go back to GarageBand and take a screenshot of their project. Even though this will just be an image of the student’s GarageBand project, it can still tell you a lot of information about their work
- Then they can present both of those things – the audio file and the screenshot – to the teacher
- A simple way would be to save both items and submit them to the teacher but even better would be for them to create a PPT or Keynote presentation or Explain Everything file and put both image and audio file together on a slide. Showbie also works well for this purpose
Option 4: Record a screencast video
- A little-known feature of iPads with iOS11 and up is that you can hit a record button on your iPad and record whatever is going on on your iPad screen
- Fantastic feature – can record yourself showing someone a sequence of steps in an app for a tutorial video, but you can also use this feature to get students to make a video of their GarageBand project
- I won’t go into details about how to create these recordings – did a whole episode on this topic which I’ll link to – episode 75
- Basic process is – student opens GarageBand app, starts the screen recording. Can talk through what they have done in the project and then press play. Let the song play through and then stop the video recording. Video is saved to Camera Roll and they can then send that video to you
- They could even submit this video recording along with the audio file and screenshot image I mentioned in option 3
Option 5: Student presents work to class and teacher does on-the-spot assessment
- Final option is the most low-tech option and one that is often overlooked
- Instead of trying to gather files from students, consider just getting them to present their work to the class at the end of the lesson
- Hook their iPad up to the data projector so that you and the class can see the iPad screen and hear the sound through speakers
- Students can talk about their work and then play the song while you assess on the spot
- This works well for simple, short projects or ones where students have worked in groups
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Want more tech resources for music teachers?
Hello! I’m Katie Wardrobe – an Australian music technology trainer and consultant with a passion for helping music teachers through my business Midnight Music.
I’m a qualified teacher but no, I don’t currently teach in a school. I help teachers through my online professional development space – the Midnight Music Community – where there are tutorial videos, courses, links and downloadable resources.
I like to focus on easy ways to incorporate technology into what you are already doing in your music curriculum through a range of creative projects. I also run live workshops and have presented at countless conferences and other music education events.
If you want simple, effective ideas for using technology in music education, I would LOVE to help you inside the Midnight Music Community.