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Technology Education Plan

Sharing another paper from EDU 550.

Introduction

Educational trends have progressed over the past decade toward becoming more technology-oriented. Indeed, one author notes that student use of the internet on the collegiate level has continued to rise over the years, with an average 8 percent increase between 2006 and 2007 (Guess, 2007). These students have been seen using the internet for various purposes including online editions of coursework, interaction with classmates and instructors, research, social networking as well as for a multiplicity of entertainment purposes. With no end in sight to this trend abating, the wise educator will seek to integrate electronic resources as a part of a students’ regular learning.

Many issues and problems immediately arise with this thought. How do we actively engage students electronically and keep them engaged in the use of electronics outside of the school environment? How do we go about teaching students to properly research and use the internet as a resource? How do we go about merging older forms of education with the new technology? Should it be part of the primary instruction or simply a supplement? These questions and more will be addressed during the course of this paper. Additionally, I will point the reader to this authors’ own music resource website as an example of the philosophies contained within this paper. That said, let us begin.

Engaging Students Electronically

Most students below the age of twenty have almost never known a world without some sort of electronic visual interaction. A study released by Drs. Larry D. Rosen and Michelle M. Weil in 2001 demonstrated a link between a students’ lack of ability to pay attention and electronic stimulation (video games, television). They found that both students and adults were more able to stay ‘engaged’ in an electronic activity due to what they called “holding power” (Rosen & Weil, 2001). Numerous studies (including one from Christakis & Zimmerman, et al 2004) indicate that many traditional methods of teaching (which require extended student attention) will not hold student attention for an extended time period if the child has grown up exposed to multiple hours of television and/or video games per day. While it is true that children must learn personal discipline and responsibility, the teacher must also seek to meet the student at their point of engagement and gradually ‘reprogram them’. It then behooves the teacher who wishes to maximize class time to not only learn how to integrate technology into the classroom, but also how to use that technology to convey the same concepts as traditional teaching while causing students to have the least amount of ‘disengagement’ during the process of education.

As an instructor of general music/music survey and instrumental music, I have a twofold dilemma. While it is not difficult to implement electronics with many aspects of my general music classes, the instrumental music classes I teach demand that students sit still for extended periods of time, focus, concentrate and exercise personal discipline. As a result, my general approach to engaging students electronically is to provide supplemental and research-oriented material via the medium of the internet. I have previously discussed my methodology for students using the internet as a virtual library and how they can properly discern reputable resources from dubious ones (Gilliard, 2008). There are a wealth of music history and biographical materials available on the internet in the form of articles and streaming video which the student can be directed to in order to expand his/her understanding of a topic.

Creative and Interactive Software

The next issue in my general music classes is the use of the internet in relation to teaching music theory. Students would learn about rhythmic notation in class, for example. While we may clap and count and engage in other kinesthetic-based activities in the classroom, this needs to be continued at home. Thankfully, there are sites such as ABASoft’s Interactive Music Applications (http://ababasoft.com/music/) which are all available online for free. A virtual drum machine enables students to experiment independently while still applying the same concepts learned in class. In addition, localized free music notation software such as Finale® Music’s Notepad (http://finalemusic.com/notepad/default.aspx) enable students to engage in music composition without the use of pencil and staff paper. Assignments could be given to students for them to use the software as a homework assignment to create a song which would be played in class. This form of authentic assessment simultaneously demonstrates the students’ knowledge of the subject matter and engages them in being creative.

My instrumental music classes present more of a challenge. While they may share some of the same resources for music theory as the general music class, the instrumental students learn the instruments they play by doing. A few music companies such as Neil A. Kjos have met this challenge with the use of the iPas Interactive Practice and Assessment Software, included on CD with many of their instrumental music method books. The company makes a demonstration version (http://www.kjos.com/display.php?f=soe/ipas_software_corner.html) of the software available for free download and evaluation. The software ‘tests’ students by listening to them play and showing them their errors while they play, giving them the opportunity to correct themselves rather than have a teacher constantly remind them of their errors.

Streaming Audio and Video

The latest resource in the line of internet trends has been the advent of streaming audio and video technology. With my instrumental music students, I have been able to direct them to websites such as IMEEM (http://www.imeem.com) for audio versions of some of the music we play in class so that they can hear professional recordings of the songs. In addition, websites like YouTube (http://www.youtube.com), Google Video (http://video.google.com) and AOL Video (http://video.aol.com) have user-uploaded recordings of peers from other areas of the country and the world performing some of the same music they will be performing. Seeing and hearing peers play the same music they are currently working on can sometimes aid students in becoming more comfortable with playing unfamiliar music. The professional recording gives them a reference point and goal to work toward.

Music Resource Website

Directly germane to this discussion is the creation of my own music resource website, Mr. Gilliard’s Music Resource Website (http://www.mrgilliardmusic.com). I have sought to make this site a portal of information for both parents and students by including links to current assignments, classroom expectations and other things. In addition, I have sought to incorporate old methods of teaching (with the teacher as instructor) with some of the newer methods of instruction available (streaming video) by including summary videos of lessons and material taught in class (http://www.youtube.com/MrGilliardMusic). I make these things available to my students so they can use them alongside of review sheets and packets (also downloadable on the site) or listen to professional recordings of songs we are playing in class (also available on site for students to import to their MP3 players or other digital audio device). The site and the constantly growing set of links to other resources are designed to keep the student engaged outside of the classroom by using the very thing they will already spend varied amounts of time on.

Concluding Observations

Caution must still be observed when integrating electronic resources into the classroom. Human beings are social beings and many studies have shown (for example, a decade ago in Kraut, R., Patterson, M., Lundmark, V., Mukhopadhyay, et. al., 1998) that increased internet usage has a tendency to lead to less social and familial interactions, greater depression and lonliness and an increasing inability in people to operate in the ‘real world’. As an anecdote, I am reminded of a classmate once mentioning that she and some of her younger relatives (nieces and nephews, I believe) were in a car on the way to a sporting event. During the course of the drive, they barely spoke to each other, but instead spent time sending text messages to each other via their cell phones. In our quest to have students become more engaged electronically, we should wisely take into consideration exactly how far we push them into using technology and electronic resources. While the use of technology is good, we dare not let it strip us of the basic things which make us human beings. This is true whether one’s purpose for using the internet is education or simply for social interaction.

References
Guess, A. (September 17, 2007). Students’ Evolving Use of Technology. Retrieved February
15, 2008 from http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2007/09/17/it.

Rosen, L. & Weil, M. (2001). Are Computer, Video, and Arcade Games Affecting Children’s
Behavior? An Empirical Study. Retrieved February 15, 2008 from http://www.technostress.com/ADHDVideoGames3.htm.

Christakis, D., Zimmerman, F., DiGuiseppe, D., and McCarty, C. (April 4, 2004). Early
Television Exposure and Subsequent Attentional Problems in Children. Peadiatrics, 113. 708-713.

Gilliard, K. (February 2, 2008). Internet Usage in Research. Retrieved February 17, 2008
from http://theologicallycorrect.com/webmaster/blogs/?p=355.

Kraut, R., Patterson, M., Lundmark, V., (1998). Internet paradox: A social technology that
reduces social involvement and psychological well-being? American Psychologist, 53, 1017-1032.

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