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Best Practices for Implementing New Tech Tools

About 10 or 11 years ago, I was trying out a lot of technology tools with my band students. These tools were not only fun and interesting, but there was some value to using them with my students. Often they were a replacement for learning fingerings on a flashcard to studying them in an online version. Or, taking a music symbols quiz online instead of using paper and pencil. These new tech tools were somewhat effective, but my efforts were more about seeing how they reacted to using them and if it was something worthy of continued use.

Fast forward to the present and I currently use a handful of tech tools that bring value to my job and my students' learning. These tools range from an online newsletter called Smore to an app called Sheet Music Scanner to PracticeFirst for assessing playing skills. I'll share some important things to consider when implementing new tech tools with your students and share a list of tech tools I currently use.

1. Implementing technology the “right way”

In the book Learning First, Technology Second by Liz Kolb, the author discusses a framework to make learning more effective through technology. One way is to utilize instructional strategies. Two of these strategies work well in an ensemble setting.

Modeling: Guided practice and a software tour

Think about how you are going to teach the students about a new technology tool and walk them through the software live or as a video. Demonstrate how to login and show the features they'll be using. I highly recommend creating a practice tutorial assignment where they learn how the software works rather than assessing note and rhythm accuracy. There will be plenty of time for that. Focus on teaching your students how the software works.

Co-use & Co-engagement: Pair students together on a learning activity through the device or have students pair and share how they are learning with the technology tool.

The social interaction with a device and tech tool has great value and can be more effective than learning on their own. Consider having students work with a partner on an assignment rather than working alone. For example, using the Google Extension Music Snippet, students can work together using this composing tool. They can create and show understanding of rhythms, enharmonics, scales, intervals, or time signatures. The teacher creates the worksheet and shares it with the students through Google Classroom or other instructional platform.


2. Instructional choices when planning for using technology

  • Identify learning objectives Does the tech tool help your students reach the learning goals?

  • Consider learning styles, modes and pace of learning. Keep in mind your visual, auditory, reading, and kinesthetic learners.

  • Design an authentic lesson that is dynamic, engaging and meaningful to your students.

Finally, BE THE EXPERT before using a new tech tool with your students. Stay a few steps ahead of them. They’re going to have questions and problems and you’ll need to answer and troubleshoot them. When you know how to use the tool, you can anticipate their problems and questions they'll have.

This article is part of a larger presentation: The Innovative Educator - Balancing Technology & Instruction presented at The Midwest Clinic on December 2022 and at the Georgia Music Educators Association Conference on January 2023.


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