Technology in Education

The Music Education in the 21st Century MOOC has asked me to answer the following question in about 500 words, using some of the references they provided.

“Outline your position on the question of how much technology and the cultures around digital technology should influence education, and music education, in the 21st Century.”

First I watched the TED talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/takaharu_tezuka_the_best_kindergarten_you_ve_ever_seen  

A circular layout that encourages exercise and brings wandering children back to their “classroom”. Nature entering the classroom with trees growing through the roof, skylights and one wall open to the elements. No mention of technology here, but plenty of technology used to design the space and even the outdoor taps with their various spouts. An inspiring taste of what is possible.

I then read Stephen Heppell’s Financial Times article http://workshop.heppell.mobi/2013/10/i-wrote-this-for-financial-times-and-it.html, and then another he wrote: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/schools-of-the-future-must-adjust-to-technology-needs-20150215-13fpj9.html I enjoyed reading some of the comments posted by readers.

It’s quite a long time since I was in school, and much of my education was definitely modelled on the old didactic style.My current knowledge of the education system is based largely on the videos of the Christian school, the Steiner school, and the 3rd public school in week 1 of this course.

Technology in my school days was limited to handouts from the “gestetner”, and occasionally watching TV programs in a blackened room. I didn’t learn anything about computers until I was in University.

I personally think I would have benefited from a more social, collaborative style of learning. I did wonder though, when watching children work in groups with computers and poster paper, whether natural leaders tended to form so some children would always end up followers and therefore perhaps learn less than their peers.

In Stephen Heppell’s articles, he is clearly in favour of moving with the times and moving with advancing technology. As he says in the SMH: “Teachers – and increasingly students – are realising that schools need to be places in which difficult, exciting, challenging, engaging, complex learning happens, rather than being where uniform education is delivered”. This sounds good to me in principle. I believe technology should be able to be a part of this, after a certain age, as long as it is balanced with other needs students have to exercise, be exposed to nature, and learn by doing (why is it after spending a couple of hours getting things done on the computer, does my body tell me I haven’t “done anything”?).

Mr Heppell does not mention music education. Bauer, W. I. (2014). Music Learning Today: Digital Pedagogy for Creating, Performing, and Responding to Music. New York: Oxford University Press, USA. Sample chapter here: http://amzn.to/1onRZon, covers the topic at length in the available introductory chapter. It talks of different technologies suiting different teachers, students and learning topics at different times, so that there is no one right way of using technology in music education.

I remain ambivalent about the use of technology in music education. I see no issue with using computers to research types of music, musical instruments or composers. I regularly read forums, websites and watch videos as I seek to educate myself in the art of violin-tuition. I wish I knew and understood what is the ideal balance – maybe it is the 21st Century Christian school model (https://www.coursera.org/learn/music-education/lecture/k6Kmr/music-class-at-northern-beaches-christian-school), or maybe it is something more earthy and a little more like Steiner. And of course, different approaches work for different ages. I hope to get clearer about the role of technology in education as this course progresses.

 

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