Curated from NAfME – by Peer J. Perry, D.M.A. –
As you use more and more technology in your teaching, you might find yourself eventually intertwined in a technological web of software, hardware, apps, desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones, interactive white boards (IWB), etc. As part of their functionality, these devices and applications interact with one another using a variety of computer platforms and systems. This point of contact can be daunting for most users. How do you manage all of this without adding to your already crazy workload?
To begin unraveling this technological web, an understanding of some terms is helpful.
A platform is a digital environment (typically a hardware device like a computer, and an operating system) that an application or program runs off of. Currently, primary platforms include: computers with Windows or Mac operating systems; OR smartphones or tablets with Windows, Android, Apple, or other mobile operating systems. Peripherals like interactive whiteboards (e.g. SMARTTM Board, PROMETHEANTM), printers, scanners, etc., attach to these platforms to further extend their use.
A system consists of a group of interconnected and integrated devices that input, output, and store data—all sharing a central data storage. Devices connect to this system as well as peripherals (e.g., printers, scanners, IWB). Each computer, tablet, or smartphone can function independently, but has the ability to communicate within the system with the other devices.
In education, Learning Management Systems (LMS) have become popular tools. An LMS is a system of applications (usually web-based) put together for the singular purpose of delivering instruction. A key characteristic of an LMS is its connection to large data like a universal grade book. In this case, the LMS allows students to access grades for all their classes, and teachers to input grades for all their classes. CANVASTM and BLACKBOARDTM are examples of LMS. In some academic situations, like colleges or private schools, student financial data is also linked into the LMS.
Google Classroom, similarly organizes applications for instruction, but is not connected to a big database (like an external global gradebook or student financials). Instead, it specifically organizes and syncs Google apps to work together (causing some refer to it as a Google Management System). Microsoft Office 360 is a similar system, but for Microsoft applications.
While the above descriptions seem more like Computer Science 101, understanding the basics of platforms and systems allows you to better manage the devices and applications you use within them. To place this in an instructional context, an example of this technology synergy, is the following: You use a WindowsTM desktop computer in your classroom to deliver instruction via LMS or Google ClassroomTM. Students respond to the information projected on the SMARTTM Board and interact with that information using a ChromebookTM or tablet. Later, at home, you assess the student work on your iPadTM, accessing the system remotely.
To manage all these systems and platforms in a music classroom setting, here is some tips:
As technology continues to evolve and change, understanding how to efficiently use the platforms and systems together can make you an effective user of them (and technology as a whole). Together, these can make your instructional tasks easier to accomplish and lighten your overall workload.
Read Peter Perry’s past technology articles:
About the author:
Peter Perry is a lifelong Maryland resident, and has traveled the world teaching and performing music. A NAfME member, he is currently in his twenty-third consecutive year as Instrumental Music Director at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, Maryland. Here he conducts the: Chamber Orchestra, Concert Orchestra, Pit Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, Concert Band, and Marching Band. These ensembles consistently receive critical acclaim on local, state, and national levels.
Dr. Perry is a strong advocate for music technology usage in the large ensemble. His doctoral dissertation, “The Effect of Flexible-Practice Computer-Assisted Instruction and Cognitive Style on the Development of Music Performance Skills in High School Instrumental Students,” focused on how the practice software, SmartMusic™, and the cognitive styles of field dependence and field independence affect musical performance skill development. He is completing his first book about using Technology in the Large Ensemble, to be published by Oxford University Press as part of their Essential Music Technology: The Prestissimo Series next year.
He holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Music Education from Shenandoah Conservatory, as well as a Master’s Degree in Music Education-Instrumental Conducting Concentration, and a Bachelor of Science Degree-Instrumental Music Education, both from the University of Maryland. While at the University of Maryland, Dr. Perry was awarded the prestigious Creative and Performing Arts Scholarship in Music.
In 2006, Dr. Perry received a Japan Fulbright fellowship and participated in the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher Program. He is an active guest conductor, clinician, adjudicator, lecturer, author, composer, and performer.
Follow Dr. Perry on Twitter: @peterperry101.