Preparing for Change: Getting Ready for Offering Online Music Courses

Preparing for Change: Getting Ready for Offering Online Music Courses

Carol Johnson (University of Melbourne, Australia)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5109-6.ch001
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Abstract

Transforming music education for twenty-first century learning involves more than offering online courses within School of Music programs. Teaching and learning music online requires strategic support from both institutions and faculty members. As such, this chapter identifies ways post-secondary music education administrators can address strategic elements of sustainability (i.e., longevity) and innovation. Central aspects of collaboration through network theory, the Community of Inquiry framework, and systems thinking can better position higher education music programs to embrace the complexities of innovative technologies for sustainability. By incorporating strategic determination and the strengths of its past, music education can welcome its innovative compliments such as new pedagogical frameworks and online learning technologies to effectively prepare our students for their futures.
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Introduction

Every problem that arises, personal or collective, simple or complex, is solved by only selecting material from the store of knowledge amassed in past experience and by bringing into play habits already formed. But the knowledge and the habits have to be modified to meet the new conditions that have arisen. In collective problems, the habits that are involved are traditions and institutions. (Dewey, 1935, p. 56)

Change is a process that has been experienced throughout generations of music education departments and institutions. For example, the North American development of informal singing schools in the seventeenth century set the foundation for early nineteenth music pedagogue Lowell Mason to call for the inclusion of music education in public school. This educational change initiated a far-reaching ripple effect across the continent. Music education was no longer an isolated experience; music education was transformed into a cultural curriculum and expectation. Moving forward in our educational timeline with traditional methods of formal, post-secondary music education required students to physically attend a university to study with a particular musicologist, historian or musician. The ubiquitousness of technology for 21st century learning has now changed the opportunity for accessibility of music education regardless of one’s location. While face-to-face (F2F) teaching methods are still part of the community core of music education, one cannot dismiss supportive technology-based learning tools and online environments.

As the teaching landscape of music faculties across North America are surveyed, it is becoming more and more prevalent to find technology being adopted in post-secondary music courses. From possibilities of offering fully online music programs (e.g., online programs at Valley City State University and Berklee Music Online) to offering single, online music course electives, music faculties are faced with becoming and staying current in 21st century teaching practices. Meta studies suggest that a pedagogically-designed online course can provide students with online learning that provides equal to, or better, learning outcomes than a F2F classroom (Means, Toyama, Murphy, Bakia, & Jones, 2009). The online environment can build on supportive learning outcomes and provide strategic opportunities for departments to address issues of program sustainability through contexts of access, flexibility and scalability.

Moving to the online environment comes with an acceptance of various levels and forms of change. Change, however, is not always easy to navigate, especially in a system that is entrenched in traditions. Dewey (1935) suggested that education itself involves the agreement for change; past educational experiences were described as prescriptive supports for future developments and transformative processes that can overcome habitual and complacent mindsets.

How we position music education to be strategically poised and ready to navigate through the challenges and opportunities of 21st century pedagogy is the focus of this chapter. Shifting towards the inclusion of online music courses goes beyond adoption of online pedagogy for instructors; it is also framed within the context of designing organizational change,. It involves a unified commitment from administration and faculty in short- and long- term departmental and institutional vision. Categorized in themes that address intrinsic, extrinsic and collective functions, this chapter highlights the key strategies of awareness, approach and action. A case study of one online music program is used to highlight how these three strategies can provide supportive means for embracing and sustaining adoption of online music courses within a higher education context. Together with committed and collaborative efforts of the collective organization, concurrent organizational strategies can become effective tools for positioning a music faculty to be positioned for change.

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