Stephen Shoop


Emerging Technologies Applied to Music Education

Recent advances in technology are providing exciting possibilities when applied to the field of music education.  These opportunities are not free of challenges. Music educators—as a collective community—must develop effective ways and means of utilizing new technology, and to the best of our ability, avoid potential pitfalls.

Some areas of promise include Skype lessons, webcasts, podcasts, and vodcasts, online classes (distance learning), electronic portfolios using Powerpoint, virtual environments, online wikis, and yes.... personal and professional websites.

This section of my website will provide information about evolving technology as applied to music teaching and learning.  I look forward to being actively involved with this exciting area as we move forward in the 21st century!

General Thoughts and Observations About Emerging Technologies and Music Education

Three basic things are essential for technology in music education to be effective:  (1)  The right equipment must be in place and functioning properly.  (2) The teacher (presenter) must have the expertise needed to facilitate the teaching and learning process.  (3) The student must be able to access whatever the teacher is presenting.  Getting started utilizing emerging technologies can be rather time consuming and labor intensive.  “Modern” technology should be used… first and foremost…  for more effective teaching and learning.  One must be wary of  “technology for technology’s sake.”  Instruction must always be of excellent quality, regardless of the means in which it is delivered.

Sample Projects and Activities

Skype Lessons:  Benefits:  It is possible to teach and learn from a distance.  Potential problems:  Equipment must function.  “Hands on” instruction is not possible.  A possible solution is a “hybrid” of live and online lessons, if distance between teacher and student is within reason. 

Online Courses:  Benefits:  Distance learning is possible.  Potential problems:  Online classes are more than the correspondence courses of earlier times.  Class participation is an important dimension in online classes.  Getting everyone to participate can be a challenge.  Also, you cannot always “read” people who are interacting in a virtual environment.

Webcasts.  Benefits.  Teaching and learning from a distance is an exciting possibility.  I wanted to do a webcast with the composer of a piece of music my band was playing.  I left the job before obtaining the equipment necessary to make it happen.  Potential problems:  Equipment must be in place and functioning.

Podcasts and Vodcasts.  Benefits:  Presentations can be made available on demand.  I often think how beneficial it would be for music history class lectures (for example) to be videotaped and archived.  They could then be reviewed (over and over in my case) at a later date!

Electronic Portfolios and Presentations:  Benefits:  Electronic portfolios using PowerPoint (for example) can be an effective way to make a presentation.  Also, they are easily updated, modified, and can be emailed as an attachment.  Potential Problems:  The equipment must be in place and functioning. 

Personal Websites:  Benefits:  Information about you and your activities is accessible worldwide.  Potential problems:  Websites need regular attention.  URLs must to be checked periodically and updated, etc.

Blogs:  Benefits:  Blogs can be a place to share information.  Potential problems:  There is potential for unwelcome participation and content.  Therefore, blogs must be monitored.

YouTube.  Benefits:  With YouTube, performances and other video materials can be posted online for easy access.  Potential problems:  Work of questionable quality can also be posted for all to see and hear.

Computerized Print Music Engraving Software (Such as Finale).  Benefits:  High quality computerized music notation has become standard.  Potential Problems:  Finale and other software programs tend to be complicated and time consuming when getting started.

Social Media.  Benefits:  Social media sites like Facebook can be a central place to disseminate and share information.  Potential Problems:  As with blogs, they must be continually monitored.

Future Directions

I am interested in knowing in the future if there will be a way to make non-live online teaching and learning truly interactive.  That is, a student would perform and then receive interpretive, diagnostic, and corrective feedback interactively in some type of virtual environment. 

Concluding Thoughts

Technologies that have become routinely accessible as email, Internet, and word processing should be mentioned.   A while back, I was sitting at the airport in Charleston, North Carolina, waiting for my connecting flight.  Checking my email, I received a request from a former student for a letter of recommendation… but, she needed it quickly.  I composed the letter and immediately emailed it to her!  Done!

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