Sunday, September 25, 2011

Innovation, or just shiny gadgets?

I want to comment on this example of work from the UK, which I came across last week:

Youtube link as the embed code is a bit unreliable;

Store Van Music is a small business in the UK which is attempting to alter the music curriculum in schools.

Store Van Music is a small business in the UK which is attempting to alter the music curriculum in schools.

What's the innovation?
Firstly, students love music. Speak to any teenager or even pre-teen and they will have something to say about which music they like. Their tastes are hugely influenced by media, or TV in general, but they are able to talk about their likes with passion.

But ask them about Music in schools and the passion disappears. Fed with a diet of wishy-washy singalongs and a formal grade driven instruction system, students quickly dis-associate 'home' music and 'school' music. Sir Ken Robinson's story about the school that taught music in such a way that two of The Beatles were switched off should serve as a warning to us all.

Indeed, a six year old of my acquaintance, when asked about music lessons in school stated:

"You know, I REALLY thought music would be about creating my own songs."

So what do we know about this lesson from the polished video presented on Youtube? Not much really, there's no context for the work and nor do we know abilities of students etc. But they do look like nice kids!

Maybe they rehearsed this for a long time, who knows.


Well, certainly if you look at innovative approaches to the music curriculum, the introduction of mobile devices to tackle contemporary music appears to fit the criteria of innovation, both in terms of the curriculum itself as well as the technology used.

In the traditional sense (Sites M2) the teacher is the one who motivates learning. In fact, from what we can gather from the video, this classroom is very much centred on the teacher.

The technology, whilst undoubtedly empowering, within this context is not allowing for enquiry as students are required to follow set paths, although it is certainly collaborative.

Student experience is personalised, although to what extent this is satisfactory is open to debate, as the student who plays a one note percussion instrument may feel less fulfilled than those who play guitar, or sing.

In brief conclusion, this is an attempt at an innovative project, turning the classroom into a studio, that is taught in a non-innovative way. At least from the evidence of the video.


  1. After watching the video, I do appreciate the innovative application of i-pad in the music course, especially to those who are not majored in arts. The positive effects are as follows:no matter in what levels, students have chances to take part in activities, which is not limited to appreciation, but includes creating and composing. However, my concern is that whether students are interested in the function of i-pad or they are actually interested in the way of learning music. If it is the technology that attracts students’ attention, after their curiosity and freshness fade away, they may still feel boring in this way of learning. Besides the amazing usage of technology, the content of the course should also be taken into consideration. After all, technology is a tool which have its own limitation.

  2. Interesting video and comments about the degree this is an innovative example of IPPUT. As you have said, it's very teacher-led and highly rehearsed. OK so it's an interesting use of iPads in a heavily technologised classroom environment. The teacher obviously got a buzz from teaching this way - that's good. I'm not sure we saw much evidence of other dimensions of innovation here. Might be worth playing this video in our class and see what others think???

  3. It is an innovative example definitely. The student and the instructor play their music with real musical instrument and ipad's synthetic musical instrument to generate the mock-plus-real music! It is an integration of music-play.

    This synthetic musical instrument maybe a new direction to the music industry. Android and IOS can play a major role to future's music player. But it seems use tablet-size such as samsung's galaxy tab, htc's flyer, moto's xoom and apple's ipad ... etc are better, because smartphone screen size are too small to fit the finger to play!