#UWSMTeach Lecture 5: Drum Labs and Challenge Based Learning

Lectures 5 and 6 in our series are off for a tour of the latest and greatest. We began last Monday with a hands-on look at the new Drum Labs from Roland which combine their V-Drum kits with the new Jam Hub to create a (believe it or not) silent drum classroom. This lecture was on the topic of learning performance with technology, and we are very grateful to Attila and Nick from Roland for bringing these kits all the way from Dee Why, setting them up and showing us how it all works. For those who didn’t gather it, Attila is a graduate of this very course! Anyway, rather than going on about it, here’s a very short video:

OK, so that’s not exactly a great summary of what happened. The shots aren’t very well chosen, the music not all that relevant, and it certainly doesn’t sound like I wrote a script. Well, you’re right on all counts! In fact, I made that video to prove that very simple and rough summaries of learning experiences can be made in 10 minutes, following my philosophy of just making it and chucking it up (which I’ll go on to contradict in a second). You’re wondering how that was made in 10 minutes? OK…

The rest of the work for this week was done in tutorials. I did contradict myself in a way, by then going on to say that with the tools I’ve now taught you about – namely Sibelius (Finale) for score excerpts, video, screen capture, and GarageBand, you could actually (if you wanted to) make some really nice video tutorials.

The example I gave was my ‘developing an idea in Sibelius 6‘ course that I completed last year. I spent a lot of time on these videos because I wanted them to actually try to stretch over the gap and do the teaching without the teacher. So I did little friendly talking heads at the start of each video, and so on. You can watch all of them at my website, but here’s one with some graphics I’m rather proud of too…

O-GenIn the tutorial we also took time to explore some more performance technology – O-Generator World Music. I had already mentioned O-Generator as a great way to introduce year 7s and 8s to step sequencing, and we’ll have a further look at that when there’s time, but here we looked at it as a performance tool. This version of O-Generator comes with a whole heap of lessons ready-made, and the videos and voiceovers will even take over some of the teaching job for you if you’re feeling really lazy. The interface looks a bit like a clock, with each point representing a position within a repeating 4/4 bar. I mentioned that when I teach performance with O-Generator I don’t explain the interface to students because after using it for a while they just get it.

Last but not least (or at least before I spent half an hour answering your questions about assignment 1) I spent a bit of time talking about Apple’s Challenge Based Learning. I’ve already reflected on this a little in my last blog, but to summarise you’re probably best to go to the site and read the research and watch the videos. I don’t think it’s necessarily revolutionary, but it’s a new framework to some sound educational ideas and anything that makes us think about approaching learning in new ways has to be a good thing. I think this has always been true and will always be true but it’s possibly truer than ever right now as technology shifts the way we interact faster than we shift our teaching. I have some more research to share with you on this front, but it will have to wait another week or two.


So that is preparation for our next lecture, on April 12th, when we will meet at ITSC 2010 at Kambala. You will receive a vUWS message from me soon with all of the details, but keep it free and see you there.

Last but not least

Please contact me if you are not sure about Assignment 1. Remember, as I’ve said many times, the marks are for the arrangement (written parts) and for scaffolding the whole unit of work (the website having obvious stages) with good pacing (how many weeks/lessons you’re allowing for everything) and getting the students to reflect on their own learning via an electronic diary of some kind (eg a blog). I do hope you’ll do great composition tasks with GarageBand or Sibelius or something else, and there’ll be great listening experiences all nicely linked to videos on YouTube, but hey, that’s icing on the cake, so just make sure you’ve taken care of the arrangement first and foremost.

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