Where we may be headed with tech and music learning

I had the privilege of hanging out in the VR lab the other day for the sole reason of exploring how tech can help us learn about music. Who knew researching music could be so much fun and engaging? I was transformed into a 3D space with symphonic music where I had to use my light saber to strike exploding blocks on and off the beat. What did I learn about music from this integration with tech? In short, the tech had me totally immersed in listening and playing along with the music. I’m not about the sparkly tech tools; I look for tech that supports music learning. Have to say ‘tho, I do see some VR apps having a place in teaching us about music. 🙂

Current state of learning music online

I was asked the other day to share a bit of an update as to where the research in online music pedagogy (aka teaching music online) is today. The short statement is: we’re learning music online.
We now have data that shows us there’s been an exponential increase in higher education adding online music classes in their offerings since 2012 (Johnson, 2017). This adds up to about 40% of our class offerings taking place online. While it doesn’t always mean a financial savings to the universities, it does mean that students can learn music in ways that support individual student learning. These online learning spaces aren’t created overnight, but they are well worth the effort.

Why online music education?

I came across this video about music education and I think that it applies to online music education – everyone should have the right to explore the individual, creative aspect of human artistic experience.

Music as a Natural Resource (from Youtube)

New Horizon Report (2012) Higher Ed Summary (continued)

Here’s a quick overview of what we could be embracing over the next few years. The use of gesture-based computing could be quite interesting, as well as the use of learning analytics. Both bring up questions on ethics in education and how we use our digital information storage. There doesn’t seem to be a black or white response and therefore will require some careful thought and consideration during implementation and use.

Upcoming Year:

  • Mobile Technologies (i.e. apps and tablets)

Two – Three Years Out:

  • Game-based technologies (with collaboration and focus on user engagement)
  • Learning Analytics (focus on  real-time curriculum revisions)

Four to Five Years Out:

  • Human gesture-based technologies (i.e. use of body movement and voice tracking instead of a mouse)
  • “The Internet of Things” (i.e. connecting devices to interact with each other to communicate information to the user. Near Field Communication devices, Smart Objects are examples of this.)

Want to read the Higher Education New Horizon Report? Get it here: http://www.nmc.org/publications/horizon-report-2012-higher-ed-edition

New Horizon Report (2012) Higher Ed Summary

We’ve been hard at work getting through the New Horizon Report that came out earlier this year. Came across some interesting findings from this internationally audited summary:

Trends the are currently out there in Higher Ed Online learning:

  • Choice for learning on demand (informal and formal)
  • Accessibility – cloud-based
  • Collaboration
  • Abundance of resources and relationships
  • Shifting of Learning Paradigms
  • Challenging-based & Active Learning for Student Engagement

I can’t say that these are just online-based trends, hopefully they are traditional classroom trends as well. Same goes for the challenges they brought up:


  • Un-precedented competition to bring forth new learning education models
  • Evaluation of available new resources (i.e. metrics)
  • Digital media literacy skills
  • Institutional change/barriers
  • Need for scholarly repositories for emerging technologies

Challenges to Online Teaching

More on the research front of online teaching and learning today…

Here are some challenges that I will need to look into as I continue to develop my literature review for online teaching and learning

  • faculty time to develop new online content
  • faculty and student need for technical support
  • perception by many that online content is not rigorous
  • identifying ways to assist faculty in organized online teaching workshops
  • training faculty in pedagogical theory (Lorenzetti, 2009)

Lorenzetti, J. P. (2009). The virtual faculty lounge: Providing online faculty development for adjunct instructors. Best Practices for Training and Retaining Online Adjunct Faculty, Distance Education Report. Retrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com

Online Faculty Training Strategies

Still looking into the PD aspect of online teaching and learning, I came across a number of interesting teaching strategies:

  • inclusion of adult learning theory in training
  • build upon current expertise of faculty member
  • just-in-time mentoring supports
  • a phased approach, i.e. teacher as learner to teacher as adopter to teacher as co-leader to teacher as re-affirmer to teacher as leader (Palloff & Pratt, 2011)
  • community learning approach, i.e. use of brown bag lunch workshops
  • use of faculty topics of interest

Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2011). The Excellent Online Instructor: Strategies for Professional Development. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


Questions to Assist in Validity of Data Collection Instrument

To aid in the securing of validity for quantitative research here are a few questions to ask during the creation of a quantitative study:

  • what prior studies have used this particular instrument?  What were the outcomes?
  • Is the use of my instrument for data collection of similar purposes?
  • Do my interviews verify my data collection instrument? (Creswell, 2012, p. 163)

Creswell, J. W. (2012). Educational Research: Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating Quantitative and Qualitative Research (4th ed.). Addison Wesley.


Reliability and Validity

Often times in quantitative research, we can confuse reliability and validity since they can be quite interwoven in their implications toward each other. From Creswell (2012), I have found the following delineations:

Reliability – scores or indicators need to be consistent and found similar when they are testing the same things (p. 159).

Validity – is the evidence that the test is measuring what it is supposed to measure (p. 159).

In the big picture, we need to have consistent scores (i.e. reliability) that assist with evidence that we are measuring what we intend to measure (i.e. validity).


Ways to adhere to reliability (notes from Chapter 5 in Creswell, 2012)

1. Test-Retest Reliability – this indicates the stability of testing over a time period.

2. Alternate Forms Reliability – use of two-test testing the same variable.

3. Inter-rater Reliability – this is used in observations in behavior. I.e Observer scores are compared to each other for similarities and differences.

4. Testing of Responses for Reliability Suggestions:

  • internally consistent (i.e. the subject’s answer to question #1 is the same answer as found in question #10)
  • Kuder-Richarson Split Half test (KR-20 and KR-21)
  • Spearman-Brown formula
  • Co-efficient alpha testing

Creswell, J. W. (2012). Educational Research: Planning, Conducting, and Evaluating Quantitative and Qualitative Research (4th ed.). Addison Wesley.
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