This week's assignment for “The Place of Music in 21st Century Education” is to write a "provocation" on media-rich content for the music classroom. Goodness, isn't there enough provoking on the Internet right now? Well, I'll do it, but I'm certainly not aiming to push anybody's buttons here.
Disclaimer: I teach college courses in music technology, so I'm a staunch advocate of implementing tech for, not only music production students, but for all music majors, regardless of speciality. Our program aims to maximize their "bag of tricks" so that they have the opportunity to enhance their teaching methods, and to expand opportunities for their personal expression and potential for income. We expose them to technology both as a create means of expression and as a utilitarian component to their toolset as future music professionals.
Now, as far as the effectiveness of technology in the elementary and secondary music classroom, I can't comment from personal experience. I think recorders (the ones you blow through) is as high-tech as it got when I was a kid (although I did first begin composing pieces using a handheld game with a crude 32-step sequencer called Merlin).
I'm very curious about recent trends in these classrooms, of course, and that's my primary motivation for taking this class. I'd assume that it would be chockfull of the same awesomeness that occurs in my college classroom, but I'll rely on the firsthand testimonies of the research and that of my peers in the course.
I thought that most of the material presented this week was pretty supportive of using tech tools to engage students and reach out to those who might be less interested in the traditional path to music study. I was, however, pretty stunned and concerned about the recommendation by several health organizations that there should be no screen time for children under 3 years old. I don't have (human) children myself. But I see relatives and friends plopping their kids down in front of electronic "babysitters" all the time. I'm definately relaying the Christakis mouse studies to them at the next holiday gathering ("How dare you tell me how to raise my kid(s)!!").
For more about tech in the primary and secondary music classroom, I uncovered some information in the form of Internet's perfect summation format, optimized for the limited attention span in us all: the infographic. What? It's a great way to concisely present information from a number of otherwise wordy resources. Look, Dr. Humberstone specifically said this wasn't to be a piece of academic writing. I make no apologies.
So the National Association for Music Education (NAME) posted and further summarized an infographic that apparently was commissioned or designed by californiastudios.com, which is a rehearsal/teaching space in…er…Chicago(?) that has some pretty atrocious Yelp reviews. Nonetheless, the data in the graphic, based on a PBS survey, is rather interesting.
In summary, a large number of teachers in surveys feel that technology supports and expands the curriculum, and that it motivates students to learn. The most commonly-used device is the interactive whiteboard (a really lame piece of overpriced technology in my personal opinion…students are just as happy to take a picture of my whiteboard notes with their phones). Other tools include tablets and e-readers. Notable is the use of web-based games, something mentioned in this week's videos.
Other benefits include easy access to connect with other teachers and musicians (also addressed in the Afghanistan school in this week's videos), access to new resources and concepts, and a means to creativity, specifically composition, rehearsal, recording, editing, and so on.
If the surveys on which this infographic are to believed, then it seems like a good percentage of classroom music teachers embrace technology. I'm certainly convinced in my own experiences that it's beneficial, and I'm happy to hear that tech is being implemented in the music education of younger students.
As far as being in too big of a rush to embrace new tech, I don't think early adoption is a bad thing. Unless it's a case of the tech being forced on teachers by I.T. or administrators, I would think that music teachers, being creative people, would enjoy trying new things to increase student engagement and interest. If it works…great. If not, it won't catch on. It's testing in the field that determines what is going to make it into the mainstream of tech. The crests and troughs presented in the chart on early adoption in this week's videos makes for an interesting snapshot of trends, but I don't think it's alarming in any way.