The Music Classroom Goes Digital

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You may have noticed that your music students have embraced technology faster than students of earlier generations. According to BBC News technology reporter Jane Wakefield, on average, children spend 6 1/2 hours per day in front of screens. While Wakefield noted that they may spend some of that time engaged in games and television, she also observed that children today continually seek to acquire information digitally.

Discover ways that incorporating technology into a music education curriculum could help music educators connect with their students more effectively.

An iPod, one of the most recognizable symbols of the digitization of music.

Keeping Up With Digital Technology

Today’s music educators may find themselves behind the digital curve if they don’t continue to expand their technological horizons. Additional education, such as a Master of Music in music education degree, can prepare music educators for implementing technology in the classroom.

At Kent State University, for example, today’s music educators can learn how to use and integrate several forms of technology, including music notation software, music instruction software, mobile technologies, and digital audio and recording software.

Not only do many advanced degrees or professional courses in music education teach new technology, the course delivery format might be entirely online. It’s another way for educators to familiarize with new technology. A Babson Survey Research Group survey revealed that more than 25 percent of today’s college students take at least one course online. You can continue teaching your music classes while furthering your education at Kent State University through its online Master of Music in music education degree program.

Courses such as Music Analysis and Technology for Music Teaching and Learning may give educators more opportunities to bring technology into their classrooms. Additionally, leaders can share experiences with other teachers and spread technology to other parts of the school.

Access to Music Technology

In addition to understanding music technology’s role in the classroom, access to music technology can help students better connect music with other aspects of their education. Yadira Sanchez Olson, a contact reporter for the Chicago Tribune, reported in April 2017 that one suburban high school in Round Lake, Illinois, has incorporated tablet computers and other technology into each department, including music.

Sanchez Olson revealed that students at Round Lake High School use digital sheet music instead of paper while, in turn, learning ways to create their own music. They use web applications in class to compose their own medleys, then perform the compositions for their parents and classmates. While students could compose music by hand using paper, Sanchez Olson suggested that digital applications can make learning musical concepts easier.

Applications for Enhanced Music Education

Numerous mobile and desktop applications exist for creating, playing, and exploring music. In an article for EdSurge, music teacher Amy Burns recommended Soundtrap, a cloud-hosted service that allows privacy by creating invitation-only groups while serving as a digital recording studio.

According to Burns, web applications can help students integrate music with other subjects, from math and science to foreign languages and history. She also praised music technology for its ability to encourage collaboration among students. Her own students have used Soundtrap and other forms of technology to create their own theme songs, recognize rhythms, and critique their own and others’ creations.

Both music teachers and other educators can take advantage of digital music solutions. Burns reported that only 20 percent of high school students take part in a music-related extracurricular activity, but music technology can apply to other courses. Today’s music education leaders can advocate for digital music resources in the classroom and implement them for the students’ benefit.

Improved Learning, Information Retention, and Engagement

Having access to technology and knowing which digital assets to use can prove beneficial, but how do these resources help music educators and students? Americans for the Arts produced a free, downloadable infographic that outlined the answer to that question based on survey findings published by PBS.

According to Americans for the Arts, nearly 75 percent of survey respondents reported that music technology in the classroom results in expanded curriculums, enhanced student motivation, and student adaptation to varied learning styles. Additionally, when the music classroom goes digital, students and music teachers can connect easily through technology, and digital assets themselves can create more instruction time in the classroom, Americans for the Arts noted.
The Americans for the Arts infographic further reported that interactive whiteboards have become the most popular device in music education, followed by tablets and e-readers. Additionally, some music educators have used interactive tables to increase engagement in the music classroom.

Technology Adoption Among Music Teachers

Sometimes, educators may resist technological advances because they fear the potential repercussions, even when they’re aware of the potential benefits. Lee Watanabe Crockett of the Global Digital Citizen Foundation analyzed several key fears and demonstrated why teachers may want to push past those fears.

For example, Crockett recommended that teachers familiarize themselves with the technology before implementing it in their classrooms and educating students on safety issues. Crockett also suggested that educators help one another implement new technologies in their classrooms so that they can support one another.

Writing for Pearson English, Dr. Jennifer Williams added that educators who help students integrate technology into their education help children become critical consumers, “creators of rich content,” relationship-centered, and resilient. When educators are working in the music education field or advancing their knowledge, they can help children become healthier, smarter adults.

George Jones of Edudemic, an education and technology publication, named adoption resistance as one of the main barriers to entry for technology in the classroom. Jones noted that many educators may resist change because they’re comfortable with existing methodologies.

Jones also observed that many schools have “insufficient infrastructure” for deploying technology in the classroom, such as lack of reliable internet access and connected devices. Students from low-income families may also have the largest barrier to technology adoption. However, educators who advocate for children’s access to technology and serve as leaders in this space can help other teachers become more comfortable with technology.

If you are interested in spearheading your classroom’s or school’s digital transformation, an advanced education can help prepare you for the challenges that may lie ahead. Consider pursuing an online Master of Music in music education degree at the Hugh A. Glauser School of Music of Kent State University.



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