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Music Education 2.0

30 August 2018


Pervasive, invasive, yet inclusive. Technology has morphed the way we teach and learn. Methodologies, needs, possibilities and pace have been disrupted and need a radical re-writing. Our students’ attention span is reducing, and their need for immediate gratification is increasing. The process of action-reaction is fundamental to their learning, and they need a strong and independent troubleshooting strategy. No longer should we be concerned with the factual elements of the curriculum, but instead with how we can encourage our pupils to problem solve and ultimately gain the knowledge they need for the jobs of the future. 

We designed Maths Music Robots 1 & 2 to tackle the need for a different teaching method, able to cater to those with a diverse range of Special Educational Needs (SEN). We started in 2016 with a group of 15 SEN pupils, aged 9 to 11 and have now expanded to 90 similarly-aged students in 4 different schools, in the North and Southeast of England. We set out to boost inclusion and progression by using Free and Open Source Software (F/OSS), freely available to teachers and students, aided by cheap and custom made hardware, to ensure project legacy. During our project, young people learn Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills, such as linear circuits and coding, through the arts. More crucially, we teach students to use and apply skills across several curriculum areas. Their creative process unravels through the design phase and develops via music-based modules dedicated to interface design, composition and performance. We are teaching resilience, perseverance, the importance of accuracy and the assimilation of previously unseen technology. 

Our research questions were designed to investigate how technology changes the way we learn, which devices work best, and why students like them. Key areas of development and impact have included peer feedback and self-assessment skills, confidence in creative design and performance, and the transferring of learned information to active participation. 

As musically-trained teachers, we are also questioning whether music is a driving force behind the inclusion of technology in schools. Music in education affords educators an autonomy not seen in other curriculum areas, allowing us to shape, innovate and explore cross-curricular elements, particularly in technology.

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