The range of topics covered by this batch of resources is even more diverse than the first. It drives home the point we've discussed in class that ed tech is a pervasive and ubiquitous aspect of K-20 education in the 21st century. Here are the topics from this round that resonated most with me:
What are the obstacles to successful implementation of developmental education tech, VR, and AR on the college campus?
These articles all a common theme that technology, when not implemented purposefully and with clear pedagogical intent, will not be the silver bullet many administrators are searching for. We've discussed many times in class that technology should be a vehicle to deliver instruction, not the instruction itself. These resources share stories of administrators who are possibly avoiding or missing this critical piece of the puzzle. As with any educational trend - be it Common Core, project-based learning, or technology - one cannot simply throw it in the classroom and expect students to be successful as they grapple with it themselves. As music teachers, we can continue to teach important musical skills that will enrich students' lifelong musical learning citizen-scholarship: composition, improvisation, performance, and listening. But we have wonderful opportunity at this junction to leverage technology and make these learning objectives more salient, accessible, and scaffolded. Especially for students that require remediation upon matriculation to college, technological literacy must be considered as a skill that needs to be nurtured and developed in a structured, logical manner as we would mathematics or literacy. High-quality MOOCs, mentioned in another article, can indeed be a powerful solution for many learners. If designed and implemented well, students can reduce tuition costs, ease the transition from home to independent living, and bridge the remediation gap without disrupting many familiar elements all at once. Provided that the students, teachers, and administrators approach implementation collaboratively and carefully, I see MOOCs, developmental ed tech, and other similar solutions as part of the new model for creating a college-educated society in the US.
How can Canada's example inform how we teach our SIFE students in the US?
In recent years, global violence has dramatically increased the number of students entering the US with interrupted formal education (also known as SIFE students). Not only are these often English Language Learners, they have typically suffered trauma, relocated transnationally, and may be living in homes without their complete family unit. With so much to navigate at once, technology presents a tremendous opportunity to bridge the learning and cultural gap for these students. Canada is one example of how schools are rising to meet the unique needs of these students, and the US can certainly learn from the models presented. It is unclear if they are scalable in large urban centers like NYC, but I can certainly see these systems thriving in smaller, more close-knit communities. It remains to be seen if these models are sustainable and efficacious in the long-term but examples discussed in the article seem promising.
Is DIY education a new millennial trend, or is it just a 21st century face of homeschooling?
For a number of complicated reasons, I would guess that most Americans of my generation have a negative perception of homeschooling students and the process as a whole. The media typically portrays homeschooled children as socially maladjusted, deeply conservative, and often religious - characteristics frequently at odds with the mainstream school communities they eventually join. Personally I think that homeschooling gets a bad rap - there are many reasons, including health issues, that a family might choose to homeschool their children. I've known several peers who, when they entered the mainstream school for the first time, were well-adjusted, kind, and open-minded individuals. In fact, most were often more advanced in their studies than the average public school child. The article discusses how millennial parents who aren't working traditional 9-5 jobs are increasingly turning to DIY education as an approach that fits the lifestyle and value system of the modern American family. These models feel similar to me in terms of their goals and motivations, and I wonder if perhaps it's not just a branding issue given the negative connotation often associated with homeschooling. DIY sounds empowering, self-driven, and resolute. By contrast, homeschooling may sound to some as restrictive, alien, and closed-off. I'm not sure how the DIY trend will evolve, but certainly the dramatic increase in school-based gun violence is giving many parents throughout the US pause to consider an alternative to mainstream schooling.
How can Scratch and other block-based coding systems be used effectively outside the computer science classroom?
Prior to coming to NYU, I worked for seven years for The College Board. During that time, I was part of the team that created a new AP course and exam, AP Computer Science Principles. The primary genesis for the course was to increase representation of girls and young people of color in the field of computer science. Educators had long told us that AP Computer Science A was often a barrier to these students in terms of its design and prerequisites. Passionate educators and parents challenged us to create a class that developed students computational thinking practices, including coding, but in a dynamic way that allowed for multiple, diverse points of entry. The result was a course and exam that allows teachers and students to use one of five coding languages or systems to create artifacts for assessment. One of those system is Scratch, which eliminates the need for students' first experience in computer science to be dependent upon their skills in Python, C++, HTML, or another traditional language-based coding protocol. Especially for our students who are ELLs or struggle with language processing, block-based coding open the door to computer science for visual learners, creative thinkers, and students who otherwise preferred this style of working with code. This experience illustrated for me how multiple points of entry into technology is not only more engaging for a broader range of students, it's actually more inclusive and supportive of learners with diverse learning capabilities. To that end, I would welcome coding-based music technology in my classroom any day. I appreciated the projects that Armando shared with us and they seem akin to the type of work we were doing in AP CSP. In the coming years, I hope to expand my knowledge of coding in the context of music education. Perhaps in time I can bring these exciting tools into my composition and performance classes!