Targeting Technology Toward Pedagogy

In recent years as I’ve gradually begun integrating technology into my teaching in and out of the classroom, I’ve guided my pursuits by the following phrase: “allow technology to enhance, not dictate, your pedagogy.” While the message may seem naive and a bit too simplistic for the complexities of instruction in 21st-century higher education, I remain confident that its guidance has served me well. I’ve witnessed the rise and fall of the “next big thing” and dodged a slew of aggressive advertisements by companies with devices that are already obsolete. Student engagement with technology does not always translate to higher scores, skill sets, and understanding.

Last week I had the privilege of attending my first “un-conference,” Flip Camp Music Theory 2013, at Charleston Southern University, which embraced the possibilities of technology wholeheartedly. Conference organizers Kris Shaffer, Bryn Hughes, and Phil Duker have pioneered the application of social media, just-in-time teaching, and screencasting, among other techniques, to the music theory and musicianship classrooms. As a musicologist straying from my usual conference fare, I was immediately exposed by my lack of an aluminum Macbook Pro. But after a quick Twitter tutorial, I was ready to go!

What really impressed me by this conference was that technology was targeted toward a primary pedagogical method, the flipped classroom. The show-and-tell and open discussion forum continually addressed the possibilities that arise when students take responsibility for the content out of the classroom. Technology did not take the spotlight away from the professor; the flipped environment did so that students could apply what they learned out of class to activities in the classroom instead of sitting passively in a lecture.

Despite my heavy adoption of iPads to classroom activities, I remain relatively low tech: I do not correspond with my students via Twitter or Facebook; I still administer Bluebook exams; and I write my first drafts by pencil. However, I am encouraged to continue exploring new platforms of instruction when I see colleagues directing new technological possibilities toward specific learning outcomes. Leaving the un-conference, I was already brainstorming how I could apply what I learned to enhancing my own pedagogical methods. I shall share soon enough!

3 responses

  1. As a fellow musicologist interested in the flipped classroom, I’m curious to see what you come up with…it seems to me that this type of instruction is perfect for a theory classroom. I’ve had success incorporating some techniques in my history classes, but I’m eager to use more.

    1. Alex, I’m glad to hear you’re using some flipped techniques. Before I attended Flip Camp, I had relied primarily on Moodle discussion forums and group activities and projects with iPads. Some of those ideas are shared on this blog. I’m currently working with the Reacting to the Past (RTTP) approach and will be sharing some of those ideas this summer on this blog and in November at the AMS Pedagogy Study Group panel in Pittsburgh. Music History pedagogy is still relatively low tech, compared to music theory pedagogy. I’d be interested in hearing your ideas.

  2. Looking forward to reading more of your thoughts on the subject.

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