Academic journal article Australian Journal of Music Education

Live from the Sydney Opera House: Remote Musical Interactions for Teacher Professional Development

Academic journal article Australian Journal of Music Education

Live from the Sydney Opera House: Remote Musical Interactions for Teacher Professional Development

Article excerpt

A significant challenge for the implementation of the Australian Curriculum: The Arts is the professional development of primary school teachers in all parts of the country. During 2012, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (SSO) conducted a remote music professional development workshop as part of the Sydney Opera House's Digital Education Program for teachers in New South Wales using the Department of Education's Connected Classroom system which allows live synchronous interaction between facilitators and participants in multiple sites. In this article, we analyse observational and videotape data collected during this live professional development event to consider the opportunities and challenges presented by this type of professional learning experience in the arts. In particular, consideration is given to the impact of a remote musical interaction on embodied learning and aesthetic experience. We draw on actor-network theory to consider the ways in which a remote professional development experience differs to one in which all participants are physically located in the same space. Finally, we conclude that although there are significant differences in the type of learning that occurs in a remote music interaction, the online space provides a legitimate and potentially transforming experience for primary school teachers.

Background

During the first half of 2014, the Australian Curriculum: The Arts was released by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA, 2014), outlining a requirement that five areas of the Arts, including Music, be taught to all primary school students (preschool to year six) as a mandatory entitlement. This curriculum is the outcome of a four-year period of negotiation involving arts education stakeholders from all states and territories and is part of a broader Australian government objective to implement common curricula across key learning areas throughout the country. The release of the curriculum has led key education authorities and teacher professional associations to raise questions about implementation, with a key concern being the professional development of teachers, particularly 'generalist' primary school teachers who will be required to teach the curriculum, often without formal training in the Arts (National Advocates for Arts Education, 2014). To date, the federal and state governments have suggested it will be the responsibility of teacher professional associations in each state, as well as key arts organisations, to conduct professional development for teachers.

One public institution that has a history of providing professional development for teachers in Music education is the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (SSO) and in 2012 the SSO conducted a 'remote' online professional development workshop for primary school teachers with a focus on the kinds of knowledge and skills required for implementation of the Australian arts curriculum. The SSO conducted the workshop called 'Teaching Music in the Primary School Classroom' as part of the Sydney Opera House's Digital Education Program, which uses an online network to provide 'digital excursions' for students and professional learning opportunities for teachers. The Sydney Opera House utilises the New South Wales government's 'Connected Classrooms' infrastructure as this basis for this network. Between 2007 and 2012, every New South Wales government school was provided an 'Interactive Classroom' consisting of an interactive whiteboard, video conferencing facilities and lesson creation and data collaboration software (Beveridge, 2010). The video conferencing facilities make it feasible for teachers in any part of New South Wales to connect to any other school or a central point where a facilitator is located. The Sydney Opera House links into this network using its own sophisticated multimedia production facility, including professional cameras, audio recording and audio-visual mixing desk to present high quality arts experiences for teachers and students (Sydney Opera House, 2012). …

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