Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Happy Digital Learning Day (2/5/14)

Happy Digital Learning Day.

Actually, I think most days are digital learning days in my room.  Have been since 1992 or so.

It all started with CD audio recordings.  Clean sound and quick access to what you really wanted to hear.  Big advantages over tape or vinyl.

Then there was Finale on a computer that was in my office.  I was teasing the choir teacher today about her being too young to have actually transposed for instruments and singers in her head.  I think my college theory and arranging experiences would have been WAAAY less time intensive had there been such a thing when I was earning my first degree.

Then the powers that be put an internet connected computer on my desk.  Teacher access to the internet was pretty bold choice in 1994.  The internet has turned out to be very valuable.  I believe Letterman said "This internet idea is a keeper."  I agree.

That value wasn't lost on me.  I have run with that set-up.  I have spent time learning how to code some html and I have developed excellent FileMaker Pro chops.  The web has made those skills pretty valuable.  Communicating and keeping track with parents and other teachers has been made easier with the network.

Next came iPods and digital audio recording.  We still have the Roland 880 here, but Garageband (or Audacity, Pro Tools, Logic) have made having that box pretty much unnecessary.  Playback can be a pretty powerful mirror.  I have yet to hear a kid say the recorder is making us sound bad since I got away from cheap tape recorders.

I use videos of other schools bands as examples for my students.  I'm not getting those in the mail.  Of course I find them on YouTube.  Thank you to all who have put their group's work up there.  It adds another dimension to the discussions about what we are doing in our band room.

I use Twitter to get ideas and keep up with the news. Actually, it may be more accurate to describe that as stealing great ideas from my PLN.  Thanks Tweeps for putting those ideas out there.

(By the way, you can get info about Digital Learning Day on Twitter @OfficialDLDay or it looks like the hash tag is going to be .  Check it out and let's get that trending.)

SmartMusic.  I know it has changed the way I teach music.  That program has changed too.  It went from an $2000 add-on box for your computer, to an add on cartridge reader, to a download for your student's iPad over the last 20 years.  Sending and getting assignments over the internet has helped me to really understand how my students are doing as individuals.  SmartMusic has also helped my students develop their own knowledge of rhythm and pitch on their own.

If your classroom isn't digital yet,  There are a couple of good thinking models out there for you to get started: SAMR by Dr. Puentedura or RAT by Dr. Hughes.  I know there are some who think that kids don't really need technology to learn or I can teach without it.  Please rethink that.  I cannot think of an entry level job that doesn't require you to interface with some form of digital technology.  I use the digits to make the invisible visible and help kids become musically independent faster,  How are you using them?  How could you be using them?

To me, the really big deal on the web is sharing. I share what I know about what I do right here.  This sharing only happens with digital technology.  I wouldn't know where to send my stories.  You wouldn't know where to find them if this was published any other way.   I am coming up on 34,000 page views over the last two years.  I think that is pretty amazing considering the really narrow focus of most my topics.  I hope that, if you came to my blog looking for ideas and help, you found what you needed.

Thanks for reading and happy Digital Learning Day.

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