In our first class, I was surprised to learn that we would not be exploring music technology this term. Rather, we would be examining the intersection of social justice and culturally responsive teaching through the lens of the performing arts in the educational technology space. Although we went in a different direction than expected, I'm so glad we did. Through our discussions, my practice has grown in substantive ways beyond music teaching. My awareness of the ed tech field has expanded tremendously; I understand better how access to and use of technology in the classroom is directly related to social justice; and I've learned how to be more sensitive to cultural experiences as I present and work with technology in my classroom.
The main resource I'm grateful for is the Adobe Spark Creative Suite. Arguably the most important part of my experience is that I had so much fun building my Post, Page, and Video. I found the software easy to use and engaging, and I appreciated that it required very little prior experience in order to use effectively. The Video component in particular was outstanding because I've long felt that tools like iMovie, Final Cut, and Adobe Premiere were far too complicated for casual use. In Spark Video I was able to create a professional, smooth video with free images, clear voiceovers, and timing appropriate for a brief featurette. I also found the Spark Post extremely useful for creating things like classroom posters or signs. Also, I used Post to create the Table of Contents gallery for my Processfolio - a great extension! I certainly plan on continuing to use Spark for my future lessons.
I'm also grateful to my colleagues for using so many different tools in their lessons. Although the class didn't intend to focus on music teaching, it was beneficial having all music ed students as colleagues. In these last two weeks during our final presentations, we were able to explore a host of apps and web-based software that covered topics like composition, improvisation, and theory. In my experience, I've found these three topics in particular to be intimidating for most students; yet the tech we explored made these lessons accessible and fun. The class exposed me to many tools I hadn't used before and I hope to spend more time working with them over the summer before I enter the classroom. All that said, I have wondered how different the class might be if we had students from other disciplines. It might be interesting to see how ed theatre and dance might have used technology in their lessons. I sense that there are a wealth of opportunities for interdisciplinary work using technology, and it would be useful to explore this more in a future context.
The least valuable part of the experience has been the Tech Events. Generally, these were difficult to schedule and frequently the topics were so far afield as to be useless. I tried to make the most of the events I could attend, but overall these didn't move the needle on my teaching. I would have much preferred to have guests come to class to introduce us to new tech, or do more field trips as a class like we did to Global Nomads Group. I see the value in wanting to broaden our experience with ed tech; however, I think there was probably a more effective way of going about it.
As I've continued with my job search, the issue of technology access has moved to the forefront of my mind. I've become acutely aware of how the various schools I'm considering do or do not integrate technology into their curricula. I've had to think carefully about cell phone use in the classroom and the pros and cons of allowing or prohibiting it. As with most issues, the more deeply you consider ed tech, the more aware you become of the complexities surrounding it. I've grown more sensitive to the myriad issues parents and administrators face when educating young people who are digital natives. In tandem, I've become more sensitive to how young people today expect to engage with technology most hours of the day. Most adults are not as fluent in technology as our young people; this in turn makes many teachers and administrators resistant to using it in class. But I believe that this is an opportunity ripe for exploitation. The digital world can reach our learners multimodally and bring our lessons to life in a space only limited by our imagination. Through technology, we can teach music at scale that would sometimes be cost-prohibitive if we used conventional methods. Students can explore color, sound, and virtual texture in new and exciting ways through technology, and I think the ideal lesson involves a meaningful blend of tactile, kinesthetic, visual, and aural experiences (i.e., tech plus non-virtual tools and materials). Our class conversations have helped me use technology more purposefully and to be more open to the different ways it can be leveraged in my classroom.
My initial goals for the course included: (1) to explore arts-related software and teaching and learning platforms that can support my lessons, and (2) to learn about assistive technology that can make my lessons more accessible to students with learning differences. I'm glad to say that I think both goals have been accomplished, albeit not quite in the way I expected. Specific to the second goal, although we didn't investigate assistive technology, the multimodal nature of the tools we learned about in class essentially serve a similar purpose. Much of the software we used approaches music visually, aurally, and tactilely, which is excellent for students with processing issues in one or more of the modalities. Indirectly, these tools have inspired my thinking around ways to make my lessons even more accessible to a wider range of students.
In terms of grading, I would give myself an A for this course. I feel that I participated consistently and meaningful each class, and completed all of the required assignments at or above expectations.