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Interesting Educational Stuff

by David Birrow Birrow.David@MacPhail.org

There were two big announcements by MOOCs this week. edX announced it was adding six international universities to its roster of reputable universities. Coursera.org countered by announcing the addition of twenty-nine new universities to its roster including the University of Minnesota and the  Curtis Institute of Music, who will offer a Beethoven Piano Sonata course. 

Besides MOOCs, there are some interesting educational things around the web that make me curious about how music education will be represented online in the future. More often than not I get interested in websites and applications that are not intended for use in music instruction. I often check these things out as a learner first and then later it dawns on me that maybe they could be useful to music education. Here are a few things that have caught my attention in the past month or so. None are without their downsides and detractors but they are interesting to think about.  I'm hoping MacPhail faculty check them out and then tell me how to use them in my own life and teaching. 


Duolingo "is a free service that helps you learn languages with your friends while simultaneously contributing to translate real-world content from the Web." I've signed up for the French course and am hooked.  It gamifies language learning and is totally addictive. You can track the progress of your friends and the competition is on between myself, Jeremy Hanson and Sue Ruby right now. A recent independent research study showed that 34 hours of duolingo study equals 1 semester of university level language. 



GameSalad® is a free application that helps you build your own iPad, iPhone, or Android game. Some teachers are using it to teach students about programming. James Paul Gee has written some fascinating articles and books about video game design and parallels in education. Considering the widespread interest in Staff Wars I'd be interested to see if anybody at MacPhail has a cool idea for a practice app. Certainly ear training and rhythm reading exercises seem primed for an app. Maybe an app that sounds a 100 decibel alarm whenever percussion students play off beat. Just saying, it's an idea. 




Edmodo is kind of a like a Facebook system for teaching. Teachers create pages for their courses, students join the course, and interact by leaving comments, posting assignments, completing online groupwork etc. Edmodo aims to  "provide a safe and easy way for your class to connect and collaborate, share content, and access homework, grades and school notices." This is not unlike Schoology or Moodle which many school districts employ to create online learning communities.  I've signed up for Edmodo (it's free) and poked around a little.  The use for Community Partnerships and in house Group Teaching is obvious, but it might also make for interesting interactions between students within a private studio.  If somebody tries this, let me know!


Photo Credits:

Duolingo: Press website

GameSalad®: GameSalad®

Edmodo by Antonio Gonzalez CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


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