Imagine if Steve Jobs had gone to music school

That was the lead in an article I read in yesterday’s USA Today titled, “Tech, music work in harmony in new college programs.” A couple of featured university initiatives included a blend of music production, entrepreneurship, and computer science at the University of Southern California (funded by a $70 million donation by Jimmy Lovine and Dr. Dre) as well as Berklee College of Music’s new master’s program – Music Technology Innovation. The real highlight for me came from Langdon Crawford, an adviser and instructor for the Stenhardt School’s music technology program at New York University. The article illustrated the digital revolution’s impact on the recording industry, particularly the technology necessary to create and distribute music now. As a result, the value of a more traditional music degree has been questioned:

“I’ve taught myself several programs but that doesn’t solve the larger problem,” Crawford says. “It doesn’t teach you what to do and why to do it. To put it in the context of writing, many people think if they learn a tool they can learn music technology. But that’s like learning Microsoft Word and then believing you can write a novel”  (Karambelas, 2013, para. 17).

Great quote. I think it speaks to the sweet spot of academic technology. Students in my ED245 class consume technology and actively use technology tools on a daily basis, but they often struggle when you put those same tools within an academic context. They can view self-help tutorials online, but that doesn’t translate into the “what to do” and “why to do it” in the classroom (cue pedagogy and content knowledge). For that matter, their instructor sometimes doesn’t always have concrete examples to leverage or model for them. That’s okay for me, but it is seemingly an intimidating proposition for first year students. Arguably, though, this “uncomfortable” learning strategy is one way to spur innovation, curiosity, and exploration. It also contributes to the value of a student’s degree.

Reference:

Karambelas, D. (2013, June 4). Tech, music work in harmony in new college programs. USA Today. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/06/04/tech-music-college-harmony/2389259/

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Classroom Blogging

As promised, I wanted to include an entry on how you might incorporate your blog as part of your classroom as well as to bring your students’ parents into the classroom (albeit, virtually). To better illustrate my thoughts, I scoured around to find some examples from other schools and teachers. One example is a Biology teacher who has a reflective blog about her classroom blog. She even sent out the following email to inform students and parents about the classroom blog:

Dear Students & Parents:

Today in class we started our study of genetics. During the course of this unit, we will look at many topics including the basics of genetics and heredity, as well as more controversial topics such as cloning, genetic manipulation, and stem cell research.

One of the most effective ways to discuss and share opinions surrounding these issues is through a blog. The web address for our class blog is http://www.syersbio06.blogspot.com. A new scenario/question/issue to discuss will be posted on the blog each week. Students will be required to share their views on at least two of these posts but are welcome to comment as many times as they want. I would also encourage parents to get involved in one of two ways…1) Go to the blog and follow along. It’s always interesting to see what students really think! 2) Create a blogging account and comment along with the class. We’d love to hear from you as well. Since some of the scenarios involve decisions made as parents, your insights will be very valuable!

Many students have prior experience with blogging in other classes. If this is the case, I will assume that you know how to access the blog, log in, and add your comments. Just make sure that your username is only your first name and last initial. No last names!

If you have never blogged before and need further information about what exactly a blog is, how to create a username and password, and how to add comments, I have attached a tip sheet to this e-mail. Just open it, print it, and follow the step by step instructions.

If you have questions or concerns, please let me know. I look forward to some great discussions involving students and parents alike!

This type of introduction is great and allows parents to follow along with the class (and participate for some). Not only will students be writing blog entries/comments with you and their classmates as an audience, but now they know their parents might be reading along as well.

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