A pedagogical framework for tech-infused creative design

Unwittingly in line with last months’ OECD report, it became important in my own research to consider some kind of learning framework that might ensure a students’ progression in a learning process as I was imagining it.
It seems to have come as a shock to many people that the wholesale stockpiling of up-to-date computers to the classroom would not in itself ensure that a student is learning, let alone learning faster or better. The OECD report demonstrated a negative relationship between classroom learning and ICT use, to some extent shattering the utopian ideal of a multimedia education as the quick-fix antidote to book-bound boredom in the classroom. Again, we have Technology with a capital ‘T’ apparently not fitting the bill, verifying for many that it cannot be used effectively in education. The report, however, demonstrates the need for effective integration of technology into education:

“We have not yet become good enough at the kind of pedagogies that make the most of technology; adding 21st century technologies to 20th century teaching practices will just dilute the effectiveness of teaching.”

Kieth Sawyer, in his blog The Creativity Guru, notes how he has previously observed this breakdown in potential and created a Masters course which deals with specifically this issue – “to teach how to combine learning sciences research, innovation, and software development”.

Unaware that the OECD was at this point compiling findings on this topic, I began to look into possible frameworks for a Transformative integration of technology into a student-centered design for musical instrument pedagogy:

1.3 – Bloom’s Taxonomy and how it applies to music pedagogy

Bloom’s Taxonomy presents a structured approach to student centered instructional design, which has undergone recent revisions to include an integration of technological terms into its activities and learning outcomes. Another revision significant for the present study is the inclusion of creativity as a goal in the Cognitive domain of learning. Considered altogether Bloom’s Taxonomy and the subsequent revisions may offer an instructional design appropriate for the transformative integration of technology into music pedagogy.
Of the three domains of learning offered by Bloom’s Taxonomy, the Cognitive and the Psycho-motor are acutely intertwined in instrument pedagogy. As previously noted, the dominant focus in many schools lies on the psycho-motor domain of musical performance because it yields observable ‘results’ which tend also to represent the teacher’s own background in classical music performance, and at its worst is a teaching method which favors the ‘talented few’ (Webster 2009). The close relationship between the cognitive and the psycho-motor domains make it more difficult to determine what it was the student actually learned through the experience. Bloom’s Taxonomy and the respective hierarchies offer a structure for teaching and learning, which may alleviate disputation in problems like these. Blooms original hierarchy within the cognitive domain distinguishes between:

• Knowledge – the ability to recall facts.
• Comprehension – the ability to interpret new information in the light of knowledge gained.
• Application – the ability to utilize previously gained knowledge in new ways.
• Analysis – the ability to break down information into its components
• Synthesis – the ability to bring pieces of information together
• Evaluation – the ability to judge the value of material for a given purpose.

Despite the ability to play from a large repertoire of music, which represents significant progress in the Psycho-motor domain, it is not necessarily the case that the student has moved beyond the Knowledge stage of the cognitive domain. The application of this taxonomy to musical pedagogy involves a discursive approach to the subject, where the student can talk about what he/she has learned. For example, a student may recall how many beats are in a bar of ¾, but may find difficulty in interpreting a particular rhythm within a ¾ bar. Application of elements such as these are rarely asked of a student, where he/she must utilize them in a new way – for example, to write a simple melody in ¾ that utilizes a syncopated rhythm. Part of the thesis here is that such Application of Knowledge may aid their Comprehension of musical elements. The more they are asked to break down new information into such components (basic rhythmic Analysis in this case), the more it equips them to Synthesize the components in novel ways, until they reach the stage where they can judge how such rhythmic components might be used for a particular effect (using combinations of shorter notes for climax sections, for example).
A revision of Blooms original taxonomy, made by Anderson and Krathwhol 2001, replaced ‘Synthesis’ with ‘Creating’ and restated it as the highest order of thinking in the cognitive domain:
‘Create’ – the ability to put elements together to form a coherent whole or make an original product.
This new category can be expressed using verbs like designing, constructing, planning, producing, inventing, devising, making. This revision was made partly on the basis of Bloom’s own noted dissatisfaction with his original taxonomy for not differentiating between different types of knowledge within the hierarchy. The Knowledge referred to as the first step in the thinking process is taken to be Factual Knowledge, such as essential terminology or knowledge of basic elements, while the other steps in the hierarchy are examples of Procedural (e.g.: ‘Application’) and Conceptual (e.g.: ‘Analysis’) Knowledge. Anderson and Krathwhol’s revision accounts for these different types of knowledge by adding a second dimension to the hierarchy, forming a Taxonomy Table with the types of Knowledge on the vertical axis and Cognitive Processes on the horizontal. They also change the category names into their verb forms to allow them to overlap, giving the teacher a freer use of the terms.

Table 1 – Example Taxonomy Table for Anderson and Krathwhol’s revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy

Added to the Factual; Procedural; and Conceptual Knowledge types is Meta-Cognitive Knowledge – “Knowledge of cognition in general as well as awareness and knowledge of one’s own cognition” (Krathwhol 2002, 214). Meta-Cognition is now a significant knowledge distinction where it was unrecognized as such during Bloom’s original research in 1956.
The addition of the second dimension means that Creative activities can both serve as immediate and long-term goals in education. Creative activity can be one involving Factual; Conceptual; Procedural or Metacognitive Knowledge. So, for example, a task in composing a melody which utilizes a dotted rhythm, or even just a newly learned note on the instrument, would be a Creative task employing Factual knowledge.
By introducing a student-centered process which is derived from the possibilities offered by various technologies and by the context of Web 2.0, the long-term goal is to teach the student how to control their own learning and creativity – a Creative goal involving Metacognitive Knowledge. This involves the learning of new technical skills which can be utilized in self-teaching.
A further revision of the taxonomy, entitled Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy, was devised by Andrew Churches to account for the “new processes and actions associated with Web 2.0 technologies, infowhelm (the exponential growth in information), increasing ubiquitous personal technologies or cloud computing” (Churches 2009). It includes activities associated with technology in each of the categories, with a focus on collaboration as the most recognized general activity on the web.

The additions include (by order of category):
i) Remembering – bookmarking; social networking; searching
ii) Understanding – commenting; annotating; subscribing
iii) Applying – playing; uploading; sharing; editing
iv) Analysing – mashing; linking; media clipping
v) Evaluating – blog commenting; reviewing; posting; collaborating; editing
vi) Creating – programming; animating; blogging; mixing; remixing; broadcasting.

Bloom’s original division of the learning process into the domains and their categories offers practical musical pedagogy important alternatives to the learning process which must be considered. The first revision, the addition of Creating as a higher-order thinking category, offers a systematized goal for the instructional design – that of creating new content as one learns. The second revision mentioned above categorizes the new activities being taught, justifying the process map above as a learning process which includes tasks such as editing, uploading and collaborating.
The Psycho-motor domain is not as well documented or revised as the cognitive and affective domains. A hierarchy suggested by R.H. Dave (as cited in Kennedy 2006) suggests the following:

• Imitation – observing another’s behaviour and copying it;
• Manipulation – ability to perform from instructions rather than imitation;
• Precision – ability to perform a given action without instruction or imitation in a smooth and accurate performance;
• Articulation – the combination of two or more skills in a series of actions;
• Naturalisation – a high level of performance which seems natural and combines many skills.

Another hierarchy by Simpson (as cited in Kennedy 2006) offers:

• Perception – use of observable cues to guide physical activity;
• Mindset – has adopted the right frame of mind and disposition to carry out the action;
• Guided Response – Can utilise trial and error in practice of the action without being discouraged;
• Complex Overt Responses – imitative responses to complex activities are accurate and highly co-ordinated;
• Adaptation – can use the acquired skill in new and different situations;
• Origination – ability to adapt the acquired skill in novel ways to fit special situations.

Both hierarchies suggest a general transition from imitating an activity from a perceptual cue to the ability to independently apply and adapt the skill for new situations. However, the growth of musical notation from a mnemonic system to aid the vocal performance of plainchant, in turn to tablatures which applied to a particular instrument like the lute, and finally to an abstract system of notes as we now know, created much more of a cognitive element to music than simple imitation of an activity. What were essentially direct performance instructions developed into a symbolic language (Grout and Palisca). Because of its complexity in abstraction, and lack of reference to a particular instrument, western musical notation can represent to a young learner something of a forbidding aspect of music. It is hoped that by addressing this aspect of music early in musical education, with iterative recourse to the psycho-motor domain of playing an instrument and creating sound, that the student is less intimidated by what has become the cognitive aspect of music education.
The hierarchies and their respective terms also serve as important structures for creative exercises, which otherwise might be deemed a waste of time by other teachers. For the purpose of the survey it will be important to present some type of learning outcomes for the exercises because not all teachers are entirely sympathetic to the cause of ‘creative music’ and the type of content produced. Learning outcomes, loosely interpreted, then will play a triple function – that of structuring the transformative integration of technology into musical education by making the distinction between cognitive and psycho-motor domains of learning (a distinction important for pedagogical purposes); of providing necessary limits for creative exercise; and as a widely-known convention within which to present educational benefits and findings with other teachers.

1.4 – A Transformative Integration of technology using Bloom’s Taxonomy as an instructional design model

As stated above, the present study will attempt to draft a student-centered teaching method for musical instrument pedagogy by presenting the instrument as a creative tool, with which the student can construct their own understanding of music on that instrument. Using Bloom’s original taxonomy and the subsequent revisions as a guide, many of the concepts around creativity anand student-centricity, discussed earlier in this review, can be implemented into practical lesson plans. For example, Faultley’s conception of the new creativity in education – ‘Pluralistic Developmentalism’ – is facilitated by Anderson and Krathwhol’s revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy, where ‘Create’ replaces ‘Evaluate’ as the uppermost category. The introduction of a two-dimensional chart for the Cognitive domain, where even tasks employing basic Factual knowledge can involve the cognitive process ‘Create’, facilitates the introduction of ‘creative experiments’ as valid learning experiences at all stages of learning and development. The central hypothesis for the lesson design, with reference to Bloom’s taxonomy, is that development in the Cognitive domain (towards the Creative goal) can provide intrinsic motivation in the student for further development in the Psycho-motor and Affective domains.
The division of learning into these three domains also facilitates the integration of technology at different parts of the learning process – for example, the use of musical notation softwares for compositional tasks; the use of Digital Audio Workstations for sound editing work; and the use of streaming websites for evaluation of both one’s own work and that of others. Churches’ inclusion of verbs like searching; commenting; uploading; & broadcasting as describing new and important learning activities aligns with a ‘transformative’ view of technology in education, where the immediate tasks and goals are transformed by the technology. The technical instructions in Paynter’s project Sounds on Tape serve as a dated precursor to Churches’ revisions, while the set of teachers for which Webster (2009) was presenting the digital tools would certainly view these new activities as incumbent on valuable lesson time.
The identification of collaboration as the most significant activity on the web, and consequently as a verb in the penultimate category ‘Evaluating’, facilitates the ‘novice-expert continuum’ as described above in reference to Faultley’s ‘Pluralistic Developmentalism’. By collaborating online with the teacher, the student begins to learn the possibilities of these digital platforms, while still maintaining an authentic learning trajectory. The long term learning outcome is to teach the student how to control their own musical learning and creativity using these new activities – a Creative goal involving Metacognitive Knowledge.
The aim of this thesis is to provide and assess an example of a ‘transformative’ integration of these technologies into a constructive, activity-based student-centered pedagogical design.
Bloom’s Taxonomy and revisions are used loosely to create a structure for achieving these creative student-centered goals, which can also be communicated to other teachers and perhaps help them identify areas of music technology they need to develop. However, to develop a truly open-ended process the current study proposes an online survey in which a participant’s stance on the use of technology in music education is measured against their use of the technology and their beliefs about teaching in general. The participant will then be presented with a small production based on some activities from the focus group in which the general teaching method and some of the tools are presented to students.
As such, the survey will help in assessing the degree to which the learning process drafted in this paper can facilitate different views on music pedagogy – for example, whether a teacher who believes in the ‘amplicative’ use of technology will necessarily reject the learning process as proposed here, or see ‘amplicative’ uses within it also. On the other hand, the survey will also serve a social function in raising awareness of these new possibilities in teaching among its participants, in order to create a network of interested teachers. Participants will be given access to a WordPress blog (www.aengusk.com), which features the research leading up to the survey as well as ongoing projects.

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