iPod Technologies Advancing Dance and Digital Performance

iPod Technologies Advancing Dance and Digital Performance

Dennie Wilson (University of Wolverhampton, UK), Ben Andrews (University of Wolverhampton, UK) and Crispin Dale (University of Wolverhampton, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-481-3.ch016
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The iPod is a pervasive technology that has had an influential impact upon engagement with sound and visual media. The extent to which the iPod can act as a learning and teaching technology is still at an embryonic stage. The chapter reports upon the research project entitled Choreo:pod which has explored the student creation of dance performance for the iPod screen, in addition to its use as a wider learning and teaching technology. The chapter discusses the process students engaged in when reflecting upon their experiences of engaging with the iPod as part of a blended learning approach.
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New digital technologies and multimedia are transforming how we teach and learn. They are transforming our classrooms from spaces of delivery to spaces of active inquiry and authorship. New digital media are empowering students to become researchers, storytellers, historians, oral historians, and cultural theorists in their own right…the digital format transforms students' capacity to synthesize, interpret, theorize, and create new cultural and historical knowledge. In this way, digital formats potentially democratize learning and produce critical subjects and authors (Weis et al, 2002, p.153).

The University of Wolverhampton is a multi-campus institution based in the West Midlands conurbation of the United Kingdom with a commitment to widening participation, partnership and regional regeneration. The National Audit Office study ‘Widening Participation in Higher Education in England’ (2002) places our University with the highest percentage of students from the most disadvantaged socio-economic groups, 48%. Almost a quarter of students are from ethnic minorities and over half of all students originate from the local region. These undergraduates do not come to the University through the traditional route of academic writing, and are often the first person in their family to attend University. Learning and teaching approaches are therefore required that promote engagement with a diversity of learners.

Choreo:pod’, began in the academic year 2005/6 as a pilot project and exists as part of a wider research project called Podagogy (www.podagogy.co.uk) at the University of Wolverhampton, where key members of the University's performing arts staff have been involved in exploring the use of iPods and related software, to support students in the performing arts disciplines. As an ongoing action research project sitting within the department of Dance Practice and Performance, the project has, as a result of research activity, become embedded in a final year module ‘Dance Video Technology,’ in which the concept of ‘Dance for the Screen’ forms the basis of the module. The module comprised of thirty students and attracted the attention of both BBC Local TV and the Digital Network, commissioning a trailer to preview the broadcasting of student made ‘Dance for Screen’ videos. ‘Choreo:pod’ aimed to give students the opportunity to advance their practice in dance and digital technologies, through the submission for assessment of a collaborative Dance for Screen work. This challenges traditional assessment norms in Higher Education Institutions in the UK, by drawing on and developing the student’s visual and digital literacies, such as the stages of video making and collaborative and personal blogging. Students also develop their skills in choreography for the camera, performance-making, filming and editing techniques, visual design; and they studied the work of past and current practitioners in the field.

The impact of the iPod in challenging and informing artistic practice of both dance and screen-based performance remains at the heart of the Choreo:pod project. However from simple beginnings, choreopod developed as a multi-layered project that considered dance, the iPod and digital literacies, took a blended learning approach to student learning and assessment and became a beacon, influencing future curriculum design and resource development; specifically in regard to the use of video-podcasts in the teaching and learning of choreography.

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