Our team is very excited about a new project that we’re undertaking: A magazine-style documentary on a wonderful education program called Rock Our World. Created by elementary school teacher Carol Anne McGuire, Rock Our World links schools from around the world to collaborate on the creation of music using technologies from Apple Computer. Far from a sales program, Rock Our World has far-reaching effects on communication, collaboration, and the entire education process.
I first met Carol Anne shortly after she was awarded the title of Apple Distinguished Educator. At the time, most ADEs were college professors, so this was a big deal, not only for Carol Anne, but for Apple as well. We produced some short videos for the Apple Education Team and working with Carol Anne was a joy. She is filled with energy, as is her husband Bobby – and together, they could take on (it seems) any project and take it from a glint of an idea, to a polished success story.
The idea behind Rock Our World is simple: Children work together to create original music using personal computers. As an example, let’s say you have ten schools from countries like the United States, United Kingdom, Isreal, Germany, Australia, Japan, etc. Each school begins the project by recording a drum track into an application called GarageBand. The drum track can be recorded using live instruments or sampled sounds.
The recorded percussion tracks are then sent to the “next” school. There, the students add a bass line to the music – and pass it on. By the time the tracks have circled the globe a few times, a complete series of songs will have been created. Along the way, students can speak to each other using iChat, a video conferencing system integrated into the Mac OS. The ability for these schools to see one another, share music, and communicate as they do breaks some important barriers to learning. In today’s world, the need for cross-collaboration between countries, never mind cities, is becoming of increasing importance. Carol Anne and her team are pioneers in this regard. Their program is more than four years old already, while many schools and districts are still in the, “Wouldn’t it be nice if one day…” category. Not only is Carol Anne an Apple ADE, she is also a Google Educator, Disney Educator Award Winner, and the list goes on…
We’re in the pre-production stage now, and expect to have a completed project in time for the CUE conference in March of 2009. We’ll keep you posted! You can also follow Rock Our World via Twitter.