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It Takes More than Two to Tango in Music Technology

Professor Charles Rochester Young
Department of Music at UW-Stevens Point

 

Dr. Charles Young is the Coordinator of Music Theory and Composition and Director of the Computer Music Center at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He wrote a presentation article with Daniel Goulet (Director of Academic Computing Services), Patricia Ploetz (Multimedia Technologist), and Randall Peelan (Faculty Software Applications Training) titled, "It Takes More Than Two to Tango: A 'Team Building' Model for Educational Technology," which was accepted for the SYLLABUS 97 convention. The following excerpts, which explain Dr. Young's attitude regarding teaching and the stages of training faculty members to teach using technologies, are taken from that presentation article.

Visit the Music Department's home page at http://www.uwsp.edu/acad/music/musichome.html, particularly "Computer Resources Center," which gives a description of the many types of technical equipment available to the students for composing and studying music.

 

 

Excerpts From "It Takes More Than Two to Tango...."

Teaching the Whole Person: Apprenticeship
"In my opinion, the purpose of teaching is to allow and guide students so they can be successful without the teacher. Another way of looking at this issue is "if the student BECOMES the teacher, then they will not need a teacher." The most successful and enduring teaching/learning models are based on this ideal. In fact, apprenticeships have served in this teaching/learning capacity in the arts and sciences since the dawn of time."

For the students to become "their own teacher", they must first have the same experiences as the master. In other words, they must manipulate the same tools and materials as the master, recreate the master's decision making processes, and eventually learn how to think like the master. Michaelangelo expressed this idea, saying that "you cannot surpass that which you cannot equal." In other words, you cannot surpass your teacher/master until you can equal them.

 

Apprenticeships Using Technology
Technology can allow today's students to apprentice with yesterday's masters! By archiving musical scores and performances on a computer, students can begin to use the vast editing capabilities of the computer to redesign structures and explore "what if" scenarios similar to what the composer or performer faces. With thoughtful guidance and re-creation of the same options that the composer or performer exercised in the act of composing, revising, and editing, the student eventually learns how to think like that "master". While these types of activities were impractical before, the digital environment of computing is perfect for these realizations--much easier and faster than cutting and pasting the music with scissors and tape---AND the students can hear the results immediately WITHOUT having to copy off the music and rehearse it for weeks or years. In fact, with the right "team", this time-honored process can include a multitude of activities that were not previously practical.

 

Focus on Translating the Medium to the Message
We will take you through the process of working with and assisting faculty to frame their teaching/earning message through a technical medium.

 

Ground Zero
In order to entice any human being into doing something in a way that is slightly different from how it is currently being done, it is essential that the person - in this case a faculty member - be shown how a suggested change represents an evolutionary step along a path that is related to how the task is currently being done. In order to promote movement, it is important to demonstrate how change can take place in an orderly fashion, with small amounts of learning being spaced out over a long enough period of time to minimize the potential for negative impacts like taking one away from family, favorite pastimes, and other important professional activities. Our way of encouraging this "evolutionary step" is to take a four stage approach.

 

The Stages
The four stages are:
1. gather resources,
2. digitize resources;
3. place resources into an electronic milieu, and
4. develop a layer which allows for student / faculty interaction with those resources.

The first stage, gathering resources, fits in with how things are done now. Cartoons, artwork, videos, pictures and other things which illustrate the content of a course are gathered.

Change begins to occur when these resources are digitized, stage two, making the resources available for more flexible use with computer-related technology. Skills related to scanning images and capturing videos must be learned or "purchased." Methods must be learned for storing the "changed" information, that is, trading closet space for disk or CD-ROM space.

The next step, stage three, involves placing these resources in the context of a medium most likely to enhance their presentations. This may involve learning about creating web pages, or it may involve learning how to use a piece of presentation software or hardware device.

The fourth stage includes learning skills necessary for refining the context so that students can interact with the resources, that is, make up their own "trip" through the resources, or take one of several possible faculty-guided trips. Creating these 'trips' typically involves learning more sophisticated aspects of the activities used in stage three.

 

The Final Piece
The final piece in putting together this puzzle is perhaps the most perplexing. It involves getting faculty to "buy into" this approach. For this, the concept of "like attracts like" applies. It is important to identify those individuals who have an inclination to this form of evolution, to create circumstances which allow their inclinations to become public; and then, over a period of time, as others show a hint of interest, let the "new" members know that a group which shares this interest already exists - and that all are welcome and that all are supported in a way defined by themselves.