Reflecting for Growth

The journey

Attribution: Bob Jenkins

The road to publishing a blended Music 9 course has been a long, and fulfilling one. First, I had to choose an online or blended approach. Then, I wrote my course profile, which changed slightly over time after we had conversations in the Zoom Room on Tuesday nights, others shared new ideas on Twitter and in the Google classroom, I experimented with some tools, and researched the way others had developed blended learning classes in their schools. When I was deciding which mode of instruction to use in my lesson, I referred back to Bates’s ideas, and decided on a combination of video with audio, and text. I also had to consider how to make the course interactive and authentic. Finally, I had to publish the course, polish everything, make sure links were working and ensure that my peers could access the course easily. Even after carefully considering so many big and small picture details, there are definitely areas of improvement in my course shell, lesson, and profile.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to my EC&I 834 peers who reviewed my Music 9 module for my course prototype and gave such thorough feedback on both what they appreciated, and what could be done differently. You have provided me with an excellent opportunity for reflection, which will result in growth. Another crucial part of the journey.

Reponse to Feedback

Reviewers Appreciated:
  • the organization and simplicity of modules and instructions
  • that the course profile was well-written and explained purpose of choosing blended approach
  • that the links worked
  • opportunities for interaction with each other and me (and appropriate questions to guide interactions in discussion forum)
  • that videos were informative, clear and polished

I felt that these were my strengths, and appreciated that my reviewers noticed these things as well. However, like Elizabeth comments, the course still has a few “kinks” to work out.

Reviewers said I could have:
  •  made it easier to log in to the Canvas course

UGH! I’m so sorry! *facepalm* Would you believe it if I told you that I had my friend sign into the module using the exact instructions provided to the reviewers, and it worked perfectly? I figured out that this was the best way after I had my husband sign in another way, which didn’t work, so I eliminated that option. After investigating and responding with further instructions, I have decided that I would do a screencast showing peers/students how to sign in to the course to clarify the written instructions. (If you watched my Summary of Learning video, you’ll know that (cue the rapping) “video is great for complexity.”) This was the most frustrating part of the feedback for me because I was so confident that it would be a breeze for people to sign in to the course.

  • made the LMS more attractive (like a music classroom with posters etc…)

Unfortunately, this is a huge limitation of Canvas. I figured out how to include a music image for the “Balfour Music Program” course, but otherwise, there is no way to include pictures with assignments, other than in the instructions. 😦

  • eliminated the second set of Music 9/10/20/30 modules

Weird. Not sure how this happened, but I’ve deleted the second set of modules for Music 9, 10, 20 and 30. Thanks for pointing that out!

  • corrected assignment feed order

I wonder if this is a glitch in the student view, as I don’t see this problem from my end.

  • provided an educator profile

Although it is not easy to find, if you click on the “people” link, you can click on my name, or the name of others students in the course and find a profile for that person. Mine is up to date and discusses a little bit of my personal and professional interests. I included instructions as to how to find this profile in the welcome announcement to make it easier to find.

  • included a checklist or rubric for evaluating Sampulator examples

Good point. Although I explain the expectations in the video, that is not enough. There is a rubric for this attached to the assignment now.

  • made outcomes easier to find in the course profile, not just the syllabus

The outcomes for the lesson/artifact/module are included in the course profile, but you can find a link to the syllabus with all of the outcomes addressed in the unit in the course profile now. I felt that the course profile and syllabus had different purposes with unique elements, so I hadn’t thought of including some common elements in both places, just where they fit best. I was trying not to be redundant, but if it comes off as unclear, then that isn’t what I want either! This is the benefit of having multiple people try the course before asking students and parents to use it. Angela thinks so too.

  • Shown overall evaluation of the course

This was/is in the syllabus.

  • made a more organized way for students to submit assignments by assignment/student

This is a VERY IMPORTANT consideration for me to make before asking students to take part in this course. In Canvas, the options for students are to share GoogleDocs through “Conversations,” or by sharing links, which all students can see, to a discussion forum. What I would do to ease these limitations, is create a folder for each student within a larger folder for the whole class in GoogleDrive in which they would be taught to organize all assignments based on the title of the assignment as it appears in Canvas. It is unfortunate that Canvas doesn’t have such an option built in.

  • more thoughtful solutions to barriers of implementing blended learning

This comment surprised me, because I thought I had done this, but when I looked back at the course profile, I had only ACKNOWLEDGED the problems. I guess that in my head I had solutions for most of these concerns, but I hadn’t communicated any of these. So here is what I was thinking: Low bandwidth, poor Wi-Fi connectivity and limited devices, all require back up plans. Luckily, on the few days when students would encounter these issues, I could easily do the lesson in person using music notation paper, or they could have a practice period. Another concern I had was the time it would take to get kids using Canvas, and wondering if it would be worthwhile to have them try. Now, I think that I could get all students on Canvas within an hour, and ultimately, they would save time because they would be able to work at their own pace and outside of school. Finally, I was concerned that some students would have access to better apps and devices than others, which could be discouraging. Since I presented this concern, I think that it would be possible to use the student fees that we already collect for the music classes to go towards the purchase of apps on shared devices at school, making access more readily available to everyone. I’ve also been paying closer attention to the number of students in my classes who don’t have a device. I only have two, which means that we could easily find an iPad or ChromeBook for them to use instead.

Final thoughts

CC BY-SA 3.0 NY

I am now more prepared to tackle the creation of a blended course than I ever have been. As I’ve said before, taking on this challenging is overwhelming if you want to do it well, but the results are so worthwhile. And a big part of the reason why the results are so good, is because of the collaborative learning effort of the ECI 834 class and the constant reflection that we were asked to do throughout the semester.

I think that I will tackle another blended class in the future, but I’ll be sure not to try to do it alone!

Like Megan, I want to thank everyone for following my journey throughout the semester, and for all of your help!

In the Spotlight: Open Education

What happens before you have to stand on stage with a blinding spotlight trained on you, following your every move? A crowded audience lies before you, the heat of their eyes piercing your skin.

Photo by marfis75 via flickr

You practice. A lot.

This is the effect of asking students to do work in open online spaces like forums, blogs, or Twitter. When I am asked to post a blog it means that I spend extra time trying to perfect syntax to convey appropriate tone; I double-check and cite sources; I try to inform or persuade in a somewhat entertaining way. I also want to write things that are enjoyable, unlike in traditional closed classes where I care about enjoyability less because only the teacher reads what I write. Then, I don’t care quite as much. (But really, I am a bit of an over-achiever regardless.) The process is also more fun for me because I love getting comments on my blog and responding.

But does this really make the process of learning more authentic? How much of what is being said is being said just to get a mark and how much is driven by authentic engagement? Would I be writing this blog post right now if I wasn’t taking this class. Honestly. Or as the kids would say, TBH. No. I wouldn’t. However, it is definitely more authentic than writing just for one teacher.

Blogging also makes me more accountable because I want what I post to the whole world to reflect what I really think and who I am. This is not to say that sometimes I exaggerate just how excited I am about a new app or tech tool in the moment I’m writing the post. I might discover a tool, and think it’s pretty cool after trying it out and will probably use it at some point in my classroom. But I’m not going to write exactly that. Instead I might say, “I just found the most AMAZING tool! It’s free, it’s fun, it’s relevant, it’s intuitive. YOU SHOULD USE IT!”

So, when would I ask students to blog? What would be worthwhile for them to discuss in open spaces? I think that in music, I would still advocate for posting videos of progress on blogs or forums and having students comment on each others’ playing. It takes the pressure off of performing live, and kids have fun sharing and  listening to each other. I did this in EC&I 831, and appreciated the encouragement and feedback from my classmates.

Students could practice using music terms and develop literacy because they would have time to provide feedback in a forum. I think that this would be authentic to an extent. Again, as I mentioned last week, some participation would need to be mandatory, but that also protects people who want to share from being labeled overachievers or nerds, stifling key contributors. And we all know that we music types have enough of a stereotype to overcome already. I know what you’re thinking. I’ve never seen this movie, and I still know this…

I think that we could generate a culture where students would be excited to check in on students’ videos of their bands, ensembles, duets and solos. It would be a great way to generate excitement leading up to live performances.

Once again, as I said last week, we would need to practice skills of posting and commenting and set expectations as a class for the types, length and frequency of comments.

With this buy in from students and moderation of appropriateness by a teacher, I don’t think that my grade 9-12 students’ parents would have any concerns about them participating in an open online environment. They already are exposed to or participating more potentially unsafe spaces.

SO LET’S TRY IT, PEOPLE!

Creating Community

What communities do you feel connected to? Why? Why do we need community? Benita and Melinda asked the same question this week. And I hope that I’ll leave you with one of many possible answers by the end of this post.

Whether fostering a community online or face-to-face, the instructor and students must establish expectations, participate in interactions, and develop communication skills. Like Schwier says, an environment doesn’t inherently develop into a community in which participants feel safe, belonging, committed and engaged. So, how do I plan to foster interactions using Canvas in my Music 9 prototype course?

Step #1 – Establish boundaries and participation rubric with students

Via edutech4teachers
                                     Via edutech4teachers
  • What rules are we going to follow in these spaces?
  • How often do you think you would need to participate for others to benefit from your contributions? Can you make this commitment?
  • What type of language are we going to use?
  • Learn about “Netiquette” and digital citizenship
  • Remember, chat comments cannot be deleted once they’ve been posted. You must be responsible.

Step #2 – Practice using the tools, explain their unique purposes/potentials

I plan to use the interactive and connective tools that are built into Canvas as the primary methods of communication: discussion, chat, conversations and conferences. We would practice using all of these tools and outline the expectations associated with each, before setting students “loose” to use them all.

The discussions section in Canvas allows responses to be organized by the question asked. Furthermore, students can add discussion questions if the instructor adjusts the settings to allow this. I would make sure that students would have access to this feature to increase the number of what Bryce-Davis calls “ringers,” which are new or unusual activities that “disrupt the established patterns and expectations just enough to renew interest” in the conversations. These discussions can be threaded, which allows members to focus in on particular comments of interest and follow that train of thought, rather than a stream of feed is more conducive to general comments. The threaded conversations help to ensure that discussion is organized and therefore potentially more meaningful and authentic. Small group options are available as well. Students can join particular focus groups based on interests or projects. Edutopia provides many suggestions in their Mastering Online Discussion Board Education Resource Guide. One idea is

“Instructional Discussion Boards should be used to meet specific course objectives and should be aligned with course content.”

For this reason, I would set the expectation for the discussion forum to be mostly related to the content of the course.

The chat section is a great option for students to socialize and build relationships. This area could be designed as a place for informal exchanges and for straight-forward student questions like, “When is this due?” or “What time are we meeting?”  It is important to note that comments in the chat cannot be deleted and are organized on a separate page from the discussion questions. Students would need to be aware of this ahead of time and know consequences for posting inappropriate comments.

Canvas also offers what they call Conversations, which is really just an email service. It’s a great option for one-on-one student-teacher interaction.

Finally, Canvas offers Conferences through a partnership with BigBlueButton, which is a web conferencing tool for synchronous online meetings, much like what we do with Zoom in EC&I 834. This option is ideal for group instruction or a more face-to-face feeling.

The combination of these tools is important. In his blog post this week, Adam said, “When looking for engagement amongst the class, it is vital to incorporate a number of different interaction opportunities.” The fact that Canvas has all of these tools within the same LMS means that students won’t need to check multiple providers to stay connected with their peers. When the log in to Canvas they will automatically be surrounded by opportunities to connect with each other in a variety of ways depending on the purpose of interaction.

Step #3 – Make the interactions meaningful, supportive and relevant

As I said before, setting expectations for each of the formats for interaction at the beginning of a course is crucial. The various forms of communication available, with students able to guide discussions, will make the interactions more meaningful than a strictly teacher-driven approach. Schwier says, “For a community to emerge, a learning environment must allow learners to engage each other intentionally and collectively in the transaction or transformation of knowledge. It isn’t enough that material is presented to people and they interact with the instruction. It isn’t enough that the learners interact with instructors to refine their understanding of material.”

Students also need to be taught the skill of asking critical or higher level questions for discussions to go beyond surface-level ideas and observations. Edutopia suggests teaching Bloom’s Taxonomy to ensure that students ask high-quality, purposeful questions.

Students need skills in research and citation as well, so that they find and support answers to their own and others’ questions.

However, my presence as the instructor in each of these areas will model meaningful and supportive interaction.

Schwier, 2001
                                Schwier, 2001

I think that required participation is also necessary, especially initially, to help students develop the habit of being a part of and contributing to the community. Icebreakers and introductions are important to developing historicity, which is an essential element of community.

 

 

I would also use rubrics for participation, as well as teacher, self, and peer evaluation to give students clear expectations and opportunities for feedback and self-reflection.

Step #4 – Troubleshooting

Edutopia helpfully outlines some Common Pitfalls so that educators embarking on this journey can avoid them. I think that I have planned for each of the concerns in my plan above. But the one that I feel I have the least control over is “Students may react in an inappropriate way by flaming other students or making disinterested or disrespectful comments to their peers or in response to assignments.” If this were to happen in a chat, there is one guide that says that the comment cannot be deleted. This is very concerning to me. If one student chooses to make a bad decision, it wouldn’t go away. I’ve emailed Canvas to ask why they’ve chosen this.

Step #5 – Learn!

By Frankieleon via Flickr
                                                                                By Frankieleon via Flickr

The primary benefit of creating a blended learning environment where students can connect online is that it improves the likelihood that they will learn more. Amy noted this in her blog post this week as well.  George Siemens’ Theory of Connectivity highlights the importance of networks in learning. I know this has certainly been true of my experience in EC&I 834.

Blended Music LMS = Significant Difference

When asked to choose any topic of interest this week, I immediately revisited the idea of Myth of No Significant Difference. Not shockingly, these thoughts surfaced around the same time as my feelings of overwhelmedness about the amount of work that I am going to have to do shortly to finish my blended Music 9 course prototype. It had me thinking about what the benefits of blended learning really are.

So, at the suggestion of Kara, I decided to see what others have done to create Music LMSs, and learn from their experiences, rather than assuming that I am the first to have tried it. I’m definitely not the first. And I found out that music teachers and institutions around the world are doing amazing things with blended LMSs in music, but one pair of music educators has a website that sucked me in for a couple of hours and lifted me out inspired and armed with a few new tools.

freebern

Freebern Music has designed a LMS for music courses at Burr and Burton Academy in Vermont to accommodate lower enrollment and still offer multiple courses. They say,

“We were  teaching students HOW to learn, leaving the WHAT to the digital tools we created. As a result, we found that content knowledge and retention was improving.”

They also built courses that addressed various outcomes around students’ interests WITH those students. In future years, other students used the courses and expanded on them as well.

One of the main concerns that they had after moving all of their music classes to blended environments was that some students still desired to be spoon-fed, and they needed to spend more time helping students develop skills to work autonomously. (Dre and Logan also discussed the importance of scaffolding in their blogs and with me this week.) Unlike in a traditional face-to-face classroom, the Freeberns couldn’t ignore this skill building. Without it, students could not be successful. They came up with three areas of focus: “These three components, a desire for autonomy, the instinctive need for mastery and a purpose for study,  motivate our students to learn in this type of educational structure; a structure that will help them become lifelong learners.” And as we all know, this is the ultimate goal. It’s a key component of Saskatchewan Curricula.

By FotoshopTofs Via Pixaby

Not all of their courses are open, but some course resources are open as well as links to music technology apps and resources. I had so much fun looking through them. It was clear that these educators have done a lot of work already to make this LMS and it was much more useful to spend time looking through their courses, tools, and statements rather than trying to figure it all out myself. One of the tools is sampulator.com. It’s a fun intuitive tool that allows people to create simple beats using pre-programmed sounds. I made one, and I think that I’m going to use this tool as the activity for my Music 9 module.

sampulator

I emailed the developers, Neil and Julie Freebern a note of thanks for sharing their concept, challenges and model and requested temporary access to the modules to see how they have laid them out. Hopefully, they will get back to me! Once again, the results of building a professional learning network have gone beyond my expectations.

The whole website appears to be mind-blowingly professional and comprehensive. Seeing this, has really inspired me. As a teacher who has to promote an elective class in a school with a declining population, I can see how LMS could provide administration with the flexibility needed to give students many opportunities to take music classes.

And that is a SIGNIFICANT difference. 

The Media Diaries: Five Short Stories of Five Good Friends

No. 1: The Wise Old Mentor

By Dplanet via Flickr

I’m a reader. My parents read to me when I was little, and before I actually could, I would pretend to read stories from the Western Producer on my dad’s knee. I played “music” from the Reader’s Digest Christmas Songbook at my mom’s piano. When letters slowly morphed into words, and words into ideas and stories, my life changed. I would stay up late reading Nancy Drew under my covers, occasionally checking my orange leather wristwatch to see how late it was. I didn’t want to be too tired for school the next day. Yep. That’s me. I think I loved school because I was a good reader and most of what I learned there came from textbooks. Big. Heavy. Books. I survived on painfully slow dial-up, and downloadable version of the Encyclopedia Britannica until I left home for university. Text remained my wise old mentor in this institution as well. Bates argues that text “is an essential medium for academic learning,” and I definitely have found this true in my experiences. It’s kind of difficult for me to imagine that it is unlikely “that books will survive in a printed format, because digital publication allows for many more features to be added, reduces the environmental footprint, and makes text much more portable and transferable.” But I suppose all wise old mentors die eventually, making room for new teachers, though their wisdom lives on.

No. 2: That friend who keeps you company while you run errands and doesn’t stop talking so you kind of stop listening once in a while

pink-jvcMusic and podcasts are comfortable pals of mine. Music has been in my life since my grandpa bought me a bright pink JVC CD player when I was 13, and I was introduced to Podcast last year by a good friend. I have a difficult time relaxing, doing hands-on-work or exercise in silence, so these two keep me company and I enjoy listening to them, even if I drift off on occasion. I don’t find that I learn anything particularly useful or interesting when we hang out. But if Pen or Video join us, then the conversations get juicy. So, I didn’t find it at all surprising when Bates said, “that students will often learn better from preprepared audio recordings combined with accompanying textual material (such as a web site with slides) than they will from a live classroom lecture.”

No. 3: The Diva

Mr. P, my former science teacher, was a huge fan of The Diva. We used to watch The Diva’s presentations on reproduction, chemical reactions, and uranium mines. The Diva thought she was so much better than Mr. Overheadprojector. One day, she was trying to show off with some fancy singing and animation on the topic of Meiosis. And the poor thing flopped. Sighs were heaved. Tears were shed. Minutes of lives were lost. But in history later that year, The Diva shared Schindler’s List. And so, rightfully found a place back at the top as a powerful, evocative celebrity. So, Bates’s thoughts that quality, free and engaging videos may not be easy for teachers to find brought this memory of The Diva’s career “lowlight” to the surface.

No. 4: The Nerd

You know that guy who is so passionate, that he scares people away? The nerd? I recently got set up with him by my EC&I 834 profs, Alec and Katia. Since then, we’ve been on a few dates. He’s pretty deep when you get to know him; he knows so much! And he can really challenge me, which I like. Sometimes he gets a little boring when he’s quizzing me and I really just want to hang out with Music and Podcast, or even The Diva. Still, he has a LONG list of strengths. He’s pretty good looking in most styles, organized, methodical, environmentally friendly, accommodating, and patient. Unfortunately, I think many of those strengths are left unappreciated because the ladies don’t take or have the time to get to know him. And once in a while he shuts you out for no apparent reason. That can definitely be a turn off.

“many teachers and instructors often have no training in or awareness of the strengths and weaknesses of computing as a teaching medium”  – Bates

No. 5: Ms. Social Butterfly

captureMs. Social Butterfly is one of my new teachers. We’ve been collaborating and constructing together for a little while now. Within the last year she encouraged me to blog and join Twitter. To be honest, I got a tad overwhelmed by Ms. Social Butterfly and we didn’t talk for almost six months. We just needed a break. We sat down for a Zoom session just over a month ago, and discussed boundaries. Now, I’m self-directing my learning, just like Bates said was possible. She will be an integral part of my ongoing professional development, and I’m glad that she’s teaching me again.

Challenge

Have you met any of these characters before? Do you have any characters to add to The Media Diaries? Would love to hear what they’ve been up to!

Making a Music Module

In my Music 9 prototype it is going to be important for students to access instructional videos on the internet. There are many great professional tutorials for learning how to play instruments, so it’s just a matter of researching and directing students to those resources and not the amateur ones. However, I haven’t found as many good instructional videos on music terminology and theory.

Photo by stevepb via pixabay
Photo by stevepb via pixabay

Like Bates says, it’s important to choose the pedagogically appropriate medium of communication for the content of the lesson. A video showing music being written with audio instructions allows students to see the complex process in action, hear examples, and visualize the concepts. In fact, this method of teaching theory could be superior to face-to-face lecture and whiteboard instruction, because the music notation would be larger, neater, and faster to write.

With this in mind, I needed to find one tool that would allow me to write music, and another tool for screencasting.

First, I checked out Educreations. It’s not great.

You have to add slides in the order you want them to appear, and can’t switch them at any point in time. The writing feature is messy when using a laptop. The eraser is skinny and can’t be made larger, so it is boring to watch the erasing happen. You can hear the clicking of  keys in the video when you press the button to stop recording. It is so simple that it doesn’t allow for much creativity, and there are not many options for editing. Without that room for error, I feel I would have to start over again and again and again. I don’t have time for that. There also wasn’t a clear save button on the presentation I was making. Then my internet disconnected, and when I reloaded the page, the three slides I made were gone. 0/5.

So, I tried Screencastify. It’s great.

I downloaded this Google extension, and found it intuitive and simple. I also like that it is easy to access on my toolbar on Chrome, and I think I will be more likely to use it more often because of this. Even better, the videos save to Google Drive, which is where I already save all of my documents. The quality of the audio and video are both good. There is an option to learn quick keys, there are lots of colors available to write in, there is a button that quickly clears the whole screen without requiring painfully slow erasing. I also like the option to have the webcam record me at the same time as my screen. 5/5.

I do have one questionscreencastify-permission about Screencastify. What does this message mean? What is it accessing? What am I agreeing to?

 

 

 

So, that is when I started searching for a music writing tool. I found an AMAZING website called musictheory.net. This website has almost every lesson I would ever use in music classes from grades 9-12. The lessons online are free AND there are online exercises that correspond with the lessons.

theory-exercise

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately, the free lessons don’t have audio. You have to pay for and download their iOS app called Tenuto for those extra features. However, I could use Screencastify to go through the pre-existing lessons and record audio for them myself. I could use Screencastify to go through a lesson, and then show students where to go next to complete the exercise, demonstrate how the exercise works, and assign a task like: Using Screencastify to document your work, complete 20 Treble Clef note identifications and then upload the video to your Google Drive and share it with me. Afterwards, I could see which notes students are struggling to name, how long it took them to name 20 notes, and how many they named correctly on the first try.

Although this site is great, I know there will be times when supplementary lessons will be needed, so I read the review The Best Music Notation Software of 2017, and tried the only free software to make the list. MuseScore 2.  I have played around with MuseScore a bit, and it’s intuitive, it will play the notes that I write with a quality piano sound, and there is a built in screen capture tool, so I could easily take images of the music I write and upload them to other lesson documents or videos. I have used the professional music writing software Sibelius before, and MuseScore has all of the features that I have used on Sibelius, but unlike Sibelius, it’s FREE!

musescore

 

I am planning on using all of these tools to create my module. Do you know of any music tools that I should look into?

Music 9 is going to rock!

In my blog post last week, I asked readers to help me decide which platform to use for my music class prototype course by voting on a poll. I only had two responses. One was in favour of Canvas; one was for Schoology. Then, in our Zoom meeting on Tuesday night, I had a chance to see Alec walk through some different LMS platforms. After playing around with a few of them, I have decided to use Canvas as the platform for my Music 9 course prototype.

(***Tip: This post is long. If you want to skim through for the main ideas, just look for the bolded words.***)

Rationale:

iphone-music-pic
Via pixabay

I have chosen a blended learning approach using Canvas as a platform because I think the learning will be more student centred. Audrey Watters reminds us that “we like the idea that new technologies mean new practices, new affordances. But that’s not always or necessarily how technology works.” Watters also cautions teachers not to allow LMSes to take the student out of the centre of the learning experience. In this case, I really believe that the format could change the way students learn if I keep in mind ways to facilitate students’ individual needs and goals. Personal learning is more likely with a blended approach, and using Canvas as platform is especially exciting for a few reasons:

  • Blended learning increases engagement and teacher-individual student face-to-face time
    • Student choice. Music is particularly engaging when students can learn an instrument that they are passionate about, so that is what I encourage students to do. The online instructional materials available give students this freedom to choose any instrument.
    • Instruments or practice spaces are not always available to students in a period, especially if the class is large. With a blended learning approach, there is more flexibility for what students are able to do.
    • Teachers can give more valuable instruction to individuals during face-to-face class time. With a large number of instruments available to learn, it is impossible for teachers to provide students with instruction about all of them on a regular basis. If teachers can upload self-made or open instructional materials about different instruments for students to look at on their own time, students can come to class with questions and get feedback on what they have practiced.
    • Students need lessons with a teacher, but with the number of students in a class, it is hard to see each student each day. With video posts of progress on blogs, it increases the opportunities for students and teachers to interact and provide feedback.
  • Canvas’s organization options and compatibility with Google. Awesome.
    • Modules – unlike Google Classroom, I can create modules within a course for various instruments to personalize student learning.
    • Intuitive to use, which means I won’t give up on using it
    • I already use Google Apps, and it will be easy to upload my spreading existing materials to Canvas
    • I can use content developed by other Canvas users
    • Students can upload videos of themselves practicing and engage in discussions on Canvas, without needing to create blogs. This is a valuable time-saver in the Music 9 class, which is offered as part of a rotation within FineArts 9.
feel-the-music
By EuropeMusic99 via Wikimedia Commons

Target Student Population and Demographics: The target audience of this course will be grade 9 students; however, the beauty of this platform is that Music 10, 20, or 30 students who have never taken a music course before, could follow the Music 9 blended course initially to learn some basics before moving on to their grade appropriate level. (Eventually, I hope to develop courses at all levels.)

Course Format: This course will be guided by principles of blended learning with both asynchronous and synchronous components. Face-to-face interaction is a necessary component of music, but it can be enhanced tremendously with online components.

  • Online & Asynchronous:
    • instructional videos
    • theory assignments
    • share videos of progress through blogs that students and teachers, as well as community members can comment on
  • Online & Synchronous:
    • discussions on Canvas
    • guest speakers in Skype
    • live streamed concerts
  • Face-to-Face & Independent:
    • practicing  instrument at school or at home
    • recording using the recording studio at school
  • Face-to-Face & Collaborative:
    • playing with others
    • one-on-one or group lessons with the teacher present
    • performances with live audience

Course Toolset:

  • Online
  • School
    • instruments
    • sound reinforcement (mics, mic and instrument cables, mixer, amps, speakers, monitors)
    • paper copies of music (can be easier to read)
    • recording studio and GarageBand, Adobe ???
    • hand-written theory assignments

Do you know of any great tools or apps that music students should use in this course?

Course Content and Learning Objectives: 

For the first module, we will address the following outcomes from the Saskatchewan Arts Education 9 Curriculum:
  • Use voice, instruments, and technologies to express musical ideas.
  • Combine the elements of music and principles of composition to express unified musical ideas.
  • Compose and perform sound compositions to express perspectives and raise awareness about a topic of concern to youth.
  • Respond to professional dance, drama, music, and visual art works through individual or collaborative inquiry and the creation of own arts expressions.

Assessment Strategies:

  • Formative: blogs with videos, feedback in lessons, theory worksheets
  • Summative: performance, composition

Concerns/Challenges:

  • Online
    • low bandwidth
    • poor connectivity to wireless networks
    • student access to devices when working from home, and occasionally at school
    • time it will take to familiarize students with Canvas when Fine Arts 9 rotations are short
    • user friendliness of Canvas on mobile devices (I need to look into this; it might not be a concern.)
    • some students may be able to afford upgraded/superior apps, while others cannot, which could be discouraging
  • School
    • lack of space for students to practice with few distractions from other students
    • availability of instruments for students to use (esp. drums and pianos/keyboards).
    • addressing all students’ personal learning goals

What kind of challenges might you anticipate that I haven’t thought of yet?

 

 

 

Transformers: The Digitizers Evolve

Wandy’s latest blockbuster hit, Transformers: The Digitizers Evolve, is set to open in theaters in April 2017. We sat down with Wandy to ask her about her inspiration for this new film.

Q: What inspired such a different direction for this film?

W: For the last 20 years, educators have been incorporating technology in their classrooms. The integration may be as simple as using the internet as a research tool, or as complex as blended learning as a means to achieve personal goals. I thought that a great Transformer character would be a “Digitizer.” An educator who is driven to use technology in transformative ways. They have many tools at their disposal like social media, apps, open education courses, and creative software, so they can constantly change shape to facilitate the learning needs of their students. It might be the best Transformer to date!

Photo Credit: cea via Flickr
The Digitizers in the film appear to be regular robot teachers, until they transform! With the help of coffee as fuel, of course. Photo Credit: cea via Flickr

Q: What evolution can we expect to see the from the Digitizers?

W: The Digitizers are faced with the challenge of thinking about the mere mortals, or students, around them as individuals capable of learning and creating independently based on passion areas if they have the skills, tools, and support to do so. This shift in mindset is difficult as the Digitizers have become so accustomed to protecting the young humans, that they fail to see their strengths.

Q: Fans of the franchise are excited to discuss these ideas on social media platforms. Have you been able to connect with them?

W: Absolutely! I love hearing from them, and they’ve really inspired me to push the limits of what I originally thought the Digitizers would be capable of. Roxanne Leung shared What is Blended Learning? on Twitter and that gave me ideas to get the ball rolling. Jennifer Stewart-Mitchell shared Will Blended Learning Fulfill its Disruptive Potential on the EC&I 834 Google+ Community,  which sparked lots of thoughtful conversation with other fans.

Q: What future projects do you have in mind?

W: Well, I’ve always had a passion for music, and with the inspiration of this latest film and its fans, I would like to create a prototype for a blended learning music class. There would be both synchronous and asynchronous components. I haven’t decided what type of platform might work best, but I’d be interested in getting some input from your readers!

Q: Do you have anyone to work on this project with?

W: So far, I haven’t encountered anyone else who is interested in a blended music class prototype, but I’d be interested in working with someone who also shares this passion. Maybe this interview will spark someone’s interest!

“I’d be interested in working with someone who also shares this passion.”

Q: Do you think that you will be able to transform this class with the help of blended learning?

W: Like the Digitizers in my film, I’m going to have to make sure that I reflect on my philosophy of education and make pedagogical choices that empower and engage students. Like Tony Bates says in Teaching in a Digital Age,

“What is the role of the classroom teacher when students can now increasingly study most things online?”

I haven’t worked through what this will look like exactly, but I want the change in platform to be meaningful to students.

Q: Thanks for doing this interview with us today.

W: Not a problem.

You can help Sarah choose an appropriate blended learning platform for her next project by completing the survey below.

Rookie Sarah Wandy is called up from the Minors

After a brief stint in the Minors, Wandy is ready to step up, once again, to the challenge of Major League Ed. Tech. Today, she told fellow bloggers, “After my last Ed. Tech. class, the focus of which was Social Media, I spent most of my free time checking Twitter and Facebook. It had become a habit from trying to stay in touch with my classmates, and turned into a bit of an obsession.” Wandy said she needed to take herself out of the game for a while to find some balance: “I deleted the apps from my phone and tried to focus on what was happening around me in the moment. I felt so much more clear headed. I traveled, finished some knitting projects, practiced guitar, tried some new cheesecake recipes and took a class.”

 

However, Wandy knows that she can’t hide from Social Media forever, nor does she want to. “I’m ready to tackle online and blended learning with the help of my colleagues using social media and other meeting tools. This time, I’m going to focus on balance from the beginning, and find a way to make the most of what both online and face to face interactions have to offer. I know my students and family will appreciate these efforts.”

“find a way to make the most of what both online and face to face interactions have to offer”

Some of Wandy’s ECI 834 teammates have had similar experiences. Jannae Bridgeman also had a brief hiatus from the world of blogging and Twitter, but knows that the professional benefits of these tools will be worth the extra training time. Similarly, Aimee Sipple and Kelsey Lenihan are ready to join the Twitter conversation.

Fortunately, veterans like Logan Petlak and Katherine Koskie are willing to share some of their expertise with the newbies. Koskie: “Gotta expand that PLN.”

Wandy’s 3 Goals for this Season:

  • Become familiar enough with an online learning platform that I could easily design all classes in this way
  • Learn to use a new video-making/presentation program that I can use for my summary of learning. What are your suggestions?
  • Find a meaningful balance between digital and face to face interactions

You can follow Wandy’s progress on Twitter this season @WandySarah.