Friday, October 17, 2008

Teaching and Learning Strategies for Audacity

For several years now I have encouraged my students to use Audacity for audio recording and editing. This year I am, once again, having my students use this great tool.

I like to have my students use Audacity to create beatbox music. This is music created by making rhythmic paralinguistic sounds. My students are all online and are mostly from rural and isolated communities where and have never been exposed to a formalized musical education. For this reason, most of my students have never sung and are reluctant to try. Beatboxing is a great first step in getting my students to the ultimate goal of singing.

More on this later...
- Andrew

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Using Video in Education: A-OK

There has been much discussion about the pedagogical uses of video in an online teaching/learning environment. Several peers have shared their strategies and tools. It is great to see so many teachers adopting this medium :)
- Andrew

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Technology at ISME 2008

This post is taken from an article published in the August edition of the Canadian Music Educator.

During the summer of 2008 Bologna, Italy hosted the 28th conference for the International Society of Music Education (ISME). I had the privilege of attending this conference and in this article I am reporting on some of the exciting presentations and discussions related to the integration of information and communication technology (ICT) in music education that took place during the conference.

As part of a symposium session Samuel Leong (Hong Kong) presented Strategies for enabling curriculum reform: Lessons from Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong.
Using these countries as examples, Leong presented strategies for implementing change to policies related to ICT literacy to ensure students acquire an adequate level of ICT literacy during their school years. This was a practical and informative presentation from a person who has been at the centre of wide-scale educational reform for many. Leong discussed his top-down approach to educational change and his views on how policy makers can be moved to see and support issues that are truly important to education.

The establishment of ICT literacy standards was echoed in several sessions, such as the inspirational plenary session on the Music Manifesto by Marc Jaffrey (U.K.) as well as a presentation by Marina Gall (U.K.) entitled Teacher training and technology. Gall’s work investigates ICT competency levels in music education as it relates to music teacher training in the U.K. Establishing ICT literacy standards for music teachers and students was viewed by many conference participants as a critical first step in the effective integration of ICT in our music programs.

A great deal of synergy amongst international European researchers was evident at the ISME conference. As part of a symposium session entitled Developing reflective learning in a virtual world researchers from the U.K., Sweden and Greece presented The prelude project. With music teacher training as a focus, the researchers have created resources to raise teacher ICT literacy levels in the participating countries.

Issues related to online specific curriculum and content development were presented by Jennifer Nakashima (Canada). She presented her paper entitled Issues and challenges in developing experiencing music 2200 for web-based delivery: A critical case study.

I had the honor of presenting a paper entitled, Web-based music education: An exploration of learning objects as examined through the lens of the American psychological association’s learner-centered psychological principles. Much discussion and follow-up has taken place since the presentation as educators consider how online tools and strategies can be used to address the needs of all learners.

Learning Irish traditional music on the tin whistle via the Internet was the focus of a presentation given by Janice Waldron (Canada) and Kari Veblen (Canada) entitled, The medium is the message: Cyberspace, community, and music learning. The researchers have taken inventory of the numerous Internet-based opportunities for learning to play the tin whistle. These were examined and assigned a degree of ‘cool’ to ‘hot’ based on their level of interactivity. Online resources such as static web pages were deemed ‘cool’ while highly interactive ‘communities of practice’ were given the label of ‘hot.’ This is a very exciting study for it will help educators understand the numerous and varying opportunities for learning music via the Internet and how these learning opportunities can accommodate various learning preferences. Waldron and Veblin were also focused on effective pedagogical practice as well as the social dynamics inherent in these online communities of practice.

The work being done by Waldron and Veblen helps to illustrate the vastness of online educational content, but also reveals the barrier of language in this context. Non-English speaking participants were quick to point out that although there is a wealth of computer-based music education content available not all languages are represented equally.

Alex Ruthmann (U.S.) presented his work on the uses of online social networking tools in the teaching and learning of music. His presentation was entitled Strategies for supporting music learning through on-line collaborative technologies. Ruthmann gave compelling insight into how he uses online tools such as wikis, blogs and Ning to enhance his conventional music teaching. His talk was rooted in the idea that these tools should be used to empower the students to achieve the curriculum outcomes and enhance the learning process rather than just be used for the sake of using a new piece of technology.

ICT in music education was well represented at the 2008 ISME conference with far too many compelling discussions and presentations to include in this article. The creativity and innovation taking place in this field of education is inspiring. As ICT tools and strategies become more accessible we are presented with exciting opportunities to provide our students with exciting and relevant opportunities for growth and collaboration.

- Andrew Mercer

Eportfolios: A Quick Thought

I spent all this week involved in PD of some sort. I have learned a great deal from my peers this week. My good friend, Glenn Cake has inspired me to push into e-portfolios further than I have in the past. We believe we have a nice e-portfolio setup designed for both his online french students and my online music students. In a future post I will explain how we are planning to do it.
- Andrew

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A Day With Lee Willingham

I spent the day with Lee Willingham. We had a great day. Throughout the day we talked much about all that is music and technology and education. Lee sat in on two of my online classes to experience how it actually happens. We had some nice fishcakes and baked beans for lunch. We had a little hike and took some photos. I have a great time and learn MUCH.

- Andrew Mercer

Wiki as Eportfolio

Last year I used WetPaint wikis with my high school music students to serve as a place for them to keep track of the thinks they would like to do in the course. I was please at how easy the students picked up on technically how to use the wiki, but we did not take advantage of the capabilities.

This year I am planning to use the wiki as an e-portfolio for my students. I will encourage them to use the wiki as an area to place all the content they create during the course. I will have them also use as a storage area. Files uploaded to will be embeded and linked into the wiki.

Glenn Cake, an online French teacher with CDLI, is also implementing this e-portfolio for his classes.

I will keep you posted on how this plays out.

- Andrew Mercer

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Finale Notepad 2009

Finale Notepad 2009 is now $10. Previous versions were free. In my province of Newfoundland and Labrador many music teachers had Finale Notepad installed on all the computers in the school. Students were composing and learning with this great tool. Finale had a young user base that would grow up and buy what they were used to. Now the software will not be placed on all the computers in all the school and will not be used by all these students. It is sad to see this company take such a short-term view to product marketing.

- Andrew Mercer