Academic journal article Australian Journal of Music Education

Classrooms and Chat Rooms: Augmenting Music Education in Initial Teacher Education

Academic journal article Australian Journal of Music Education

Classrooms and Chat Rooms: Augmenting Music Education in Initial Teacher Education

Article excerpt

Background and rationale

For a number of years, people have been declaring the advent of the "digital native" born of the "Net generation" (Jones, Ramanau, Cross & Healing, 2010). These terms describe members of a generation whom have been exposed since birth to the internet and hypertext. There is an expectation that this group think and process information differently from previous generations. In some universities this has led to calls for curricula and instructional delivery technologies to be revamped in order to cater for these "new learners." The growing importance of educational design recognizes that students' needs are becoming more diverse, that teaching staff are under increasing pressure to provide better education with fewer resources, and that employers' expectations of new graduates are not diminishing. Reproducing traditional practices can be efficient if the environment is static, but in times of transformation, pedagogical methods need to be rethought, "We have to build the means for e-learning to evolve and mature as part of the educational change process, so that it achieves its promise of an improved system of higher education" (Laurillard, 2006, p. 71).

Running parallel to the Net generation discourse is a broader discussion amongst tertiary education providers about the potential of instructional delivery technologies for enhancing student learning outcomes. A number of Web 2.0 technologies, specifically blogs, wikis, and podcasts, are currently implemented in higher education courses for a range of learning purposes. Blogs for instance have typically been used for students to record their reflections about their learning experiences or to share their insights about the learning content with other students (Farmer, Yue & Brooks, 2008; Instone, 2005; Osman & Koh, 2013; Tsingos, Bosnic-Anticevich & Smith, 2014; West, Wright, Gabbitas & Graham, 2006). Whereas wikis are commonly used for students to collaborate over the production and publication of course-related content (Bruns & Humphreys, 2005; Forte & Bruckman, 2006; Venkatesh, 2014). Podcasts, on the other hand, are often implemented for delivering lecture material or other learning content and there are reported examples of more innovative uses of student-generated podcasts (e.g., Chan, Lee & McLoughlin, 2006; Frydenberg, 2006). With respect to other new and emerging technologies, Waycott, Bennet, Kennedy, Dalgarno and Gray (2010) present a comprehensive literature review about how tools as mobile phones, MP3 players, social networking and online gaming can enhance learning outcomes in higher education contexts.

This paper reports on how instructional digital technologies can be used to augment existing face-to-face learning modes in a Music Education course in response to increasingly diverse student cohorts. A number of authors have highlighted a need for an approach to designing university courses that are more inclusive of students' diverse learning needs and the need to deliver courses in learning environments that are more supportive of students' preference for different learning modes (Lu et al., 2007; Richmond & Liu, 2005). Blended learning offers a platform through which to facilitate this (Heinze & Procter, 2004). The term "blended learning" is often used interchangeably with "online delivery" (Oliver & Trigwell, 2005), however for the purpose of this study, blended learning refers to a course that is delivered in a mixture of modes incorporating a range of different media.

The existing literature on implementing courses via blended learning is extensive demonstrating an increasing range of practices and possibilities. More recently the research has focused on the efficacy of blended learning approaches for enhancing student learning outcomes. For example, Al-Qahani and Higgins (2014) report clear increases in students' achievement as a direct result of implementation of blended learning systems. …

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