#mufu2014 Creativity with mobile technology results in a lack of quality learning

In 2013 Musical Futures embarked on a pilot project that integrated use of mobile technology with vocal work. Read more about the approach, watch video, access resources and participate by clicking HERE

This session at #mufu2014 marked the beginning of an ongoing conversation. Almost straightaway the session moved beyond talking about the technology, and onto talking about learning. We don’t want ‘mobile technology lessons’ to become separated from music lessons in the way some ‘music technology lessons’ have been. Mobile technology has the potential to be seamlessly integrated into Musical Futures lessons, the question is how to do this most effectively, and for teachers and students to ask themselves why they are using the technology, for what purpose.

Emile Holba

Logistical issues with using mobile technology emerged, which reflected early findings from our Find Your Voice pilot, notably:

  1. School policy banning use of mobile technology in classrooms
  2. Students’ lack of access to mobile technology, especially in more deprived areas
  3. Teachers’ lack of access / resources to class sets of iPads/android tablets
  4. Lack of WIFI in school classrooms
  5. Teachers’ lack of confidence with how to use the music-specific apps available, and which ones out of the thousands available to choose from.

Points 4 and 5 were less of an issue as Apps can be downloaded prior to lessons, and actually students are so quick to learn how Apps work (and they are very intuitive) that teachers are needed more for supporting the musical learning. But the question of access to the technology (or school policy allowing it), in much the same way as those schools/students that don’t have access to musical instruments. Certainly during the MF pilots for this we found that schools saw such positive results in terms of student engagement and achievement, that rules were waived for this, and in some cases a music department set of tablets was bought. The strong advice from those who were successfully using mobile technology in the classroom reflected advice about MF in general: trial it and if you see an impact you can collect evidence to take to your senior leaders.

Emile Holba

At #mufu2014, our champion teacher conference, the group discussed a number of ways that mobile technology can be used to support and enhance student learning:

  1. As recording devices both video and audio, so that students can record their work, in some cases use it as backing tracks, and use it to remember what they have done lesson-by-lesson. Some schools use these videos for peer assessment / critique often using audio/video hosting sites for this (alternative video hosting websites – Vimeo, Muzu.tv, Schooltube – were discussed due to some school policies banning Youtube, and one teacher flagged that your school can sign up to an educational version of YouTube where only educational videos and videos posted by the school can be accessed by students, i.e. no inappropriate content)
  2. As instruments from following for eg the early part of the Explore Tech Mf project where students are asked to recreate music they have learnt vocally on instrument specific apps, ranging to one teacher using a Virtual Gamelan app to workshop whole-class gamelan activities
  3. To sequence, multitrack, sample, for example using Apps that enable you to record and multitrack voices
  4. For composing activities – making use of some of the more ethereal, soundscape apps to enhance and extend student composition

Steve Jackman shared a presentation he put together about how he has used iPads in lessons.

Key points that emerged from the session were:

  • We need to be able to show more clearly how mobile technology can be integrated into existing Musical Futures approaches (informal learning, classroom workshopping etc)
  • Don’t start creating projects that are just about mobile technology. Mobile technology is a tool for learning music, and should be embedded not separated
  • Mobile technology has the power to bridge the gap between home and school learning – with the majority of students having access to their own devices, this potentially opens up the classroom in an exciting and innovative way, if approached correctly!
  • We should stop saying ‘ipad’ and start saying ‘digital portable audio workstation’…
  • Android tablets are under-explored in this context, yet potentially much cheaper for schools to purchase as a set

First steps are to put together some ideas for integrating mobile technology into Musical Futures projects.

The sharing wall of recommended Apps from the #mfpilot2013 project is available HERE

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