Academic journal article Australian Journal of Music Education

Questioning Assumptions. Vivienne: A Case Study of E-Learning in Music Education

Academic journal article Australian Journal of Music Education

Questioning Assumptions. Vivienne: A Case Study of E-Learning in Music Education

Article excerpt


E-learning provides many affordances for higher education, including improved access to tertiary education for geographically distant students via ubiquitous communication technologies. However, is e-learning appropriate to all domains? What if broader institutional objectives require an academic to teach in this mode, despite their well-argued and deeply held objections to its appropriateness for the domain? Can e-learning enable pre-service teachers to study constructivist approaches to learning and teaching in Music education? Improved access to higher education is essentially just a starting point for the student. What if students learning in this mode encounter learning and teaching transactions that do not take into consideration the limitations and possibilities of technology -mediated, asynchronous learning?

These questions are all valid and important for many academics, however, although most are perhaps implicit in the case study, this article does not specifically seek to address each of them. Rather, it seeks to question the capacity of e-learning to enable pre-service teachers to engage deeply in Music education as a part of their study, and to thereby address some of the fundamental issues of self-efficacy so prevalent amongst these students. The research presented in this article is part of a three year exploration of the perceptions of students studying a unit in Music education within a generalist Bachelor of Education degree. The context and background of the study are outlined in previously published research (Baker 2011a, 2011b, 2012, 2013a, 2013b; Baker & Pittaway, 2012), and will therefore not feature prominently in this article. Rather than presenting an analysis of data from across participant cohorts this article explores the question of capacity through the experiences of Vivienne, a geographically distant, pre-service teacher studying in the e-learning mode.

This article presents literature pertinent to Music education and e-learning, with attention to some of the current imperatives to ensure outcomes for pre-service early childhood and primary teachers. The methodological approach used in this study is outlined, with particular attention to thematic, inductive data analysis, and to the generalisabilty or otherwise of the case study approach. The case of Vivienne is then presented. In conclusion the author returns to the question of the capacity of the e-learning mode to enable pre-service teachers to learn deeply in Music education, and to thereby overcome some of the reported assumptions that can define this cohort. Vivienne's experience as described in the case study illustrates the centrality of positive dispositions towards learning to success in studying Music education in the e-learning mode. This article concludes by asking in what ways can the affordances of this mode be harnessed to ensure that what is so in Vivienne's case may be so in other cases?


The education of pre-service generalist primary and early childhood teachers in Music education has been widely acknowledged for some years as problematic (Abril, 2007; Baker, 2007a, 2007b, 2011a, 2011b; Bamford, 2006; Commonwealth of Australia, 2005; Garvis & Pendergast, 2011; Jeanneret, 2006; Russell-Bowie, 2002; Russell-Bowie & Dowson, 2005), just to acknowledge a few. The significant issues in the education of these pre-service teachers seem to focus on lack of adequate time in Education degrees, lack of background experience in Music, and low levels of competence, confidence and self-efficacy in working with Music. In their recent study Garvis and Pendergast (2011) found that "early childhood teachers had greater perceived competence for teaching maths and English compared to any of the arts strands" (p. 1). Bamford (2006) maintains that 'the lack of time dedicated to art[s] education, especially in generalist teacher training, is compounded by the lack of entering ability possessed by students' (p. …

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