Use of information technology and music learning in the search for quality education

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1 Britisz Journal of Educational Teclhnology 17ol 35 No Use of information technology and music learning in the search for quality education Wai-chung Ho Viai-clhung Ho is Associate Professor in thze Department of Music and Fine Arts, Hong Kong Baptist Uniiversity. Her cuirrent research lfocuses nminly on thie pursutit of qtuality education and the use of informlationz techlology in mnusic edutcationi. Abstract This paper focuses on the paradigm shift in teaching that has resulted from the use of information technology (IT) and the ways in which IT in the curriculum enhances music learning in Hong Kong. In 1998 the government proposed a five-year strategy plan, Information Teclhniology for Quality Education, and since this time the Hong Kong education system has changed rapidly, with increasing demands on teachers to upgrade their technological skills and practices. Semi-structured interviews concerning concepts of IT with 29 primary and secondary school teachers and their 543 students, held between February and August give situation-specific insights into their views. The paper concludes that when IT is carefully planned, designed and integrated into good music practice in classrooms, it can support students' motivation and enhance the quality of learning. Introduction From the mid-1990s the development and application of information technology (IT) became a major strategy for sustaining the Hong Kong economy. In 1997 the Education Commission Report No. 7 mentioned "the application of information technology to teaching and learning processes" as an output indicator to measure the quality of schools, and suggested including this indicator in the Quality Assurance Inspection (Education Commission, 1997, 11 and Appendix B). The Government set aside a substantial amount of money to establish a Quality Education Development Fund to award grants on a competitive basis to one-off projects for improving educational quality. Since then, the government has also issued two documents that gave comprehensive coverage of its policy concerning IT: the Policy Address to Buiildinig Hong Kongfor A inewx, Era (Government )and lnfor1matiorn Teclhnology for Learnini,g in a New Era (Education and Manpowver Bureau, 1998a). The Policy Address introduced concepts developed in the latter: a five-year strategy to promote the use of IT in teaching and learning. The major goal of the five-year strategy plan. Information2 Technology for C British Educational Commurucations and Technology Agency Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd Garsington Road. Oxford OX4 2D0. UK and 350 Main Street. Malden, MA USA.

2 58 British Journal of Educational Technology Vol 35 No Quality Education (Education and Manpower Bureau, 1998b) is to initiate a paradigm shift in teaching methods, from a largely textbook-based, teacher-centred approach to a more interactive and learner-centred approach (Education and Manpower Bureau, 1998a). The Information Technology Education Resources Centre (ITERC) was set up to acquire, develop and promote the use of educational software, and to provide primary and secondary schools with Internet access by In late 1998 the Curriculum Development Council asked all subject committees to review their curricula and identify areas that could benefit from the use of IT. In alone, about HK$630 million were expected to be spent on IT in education (Government, 1998), after which time schools were to be given a recurring grant to buy educational software. Consequently, by 2000 the average number of computers in schools increased to 40 at primary level, and to 82 at secondary (Education and Manpower Bureau, 1998a, 29). Despite these concerns and provisions, doubts remained concerning whether IT was being effectively used to facilitate music teaching and to stimulate pupils' interest in music. Information communication technology infrastructures varied across different types of schools, secondary schools being better equipped than primary schools (see Chow et al, 1998; The Centre for Information Technology in School and Teacher Education, 2001; Education and Manpower Bureau, 2001). Furthermore, although most teachers have acquired basic IT teaching skills, they continue to be regarded as providers of knowledge rather than as facilitators of learning (The Centre for Information Technology in School and Teacher Education, 2001). In response to this perceived failure to enact a paradigm shift in teaching practice through the use of IT, there has been a call for appropriate staff development (see The Centre for Information Technology in School and Teacher Education, 2001; Law, 2003). Some schools are either not interested in, or uneasy about, IT such that they have not equipped themselves with hardware for teaching and learning. Only 300 principals, teachers and students participated in the seminar and exhibition of the pilot project entitled 'The Application of Microtechnology in the Teaching of Music and Art & Design in Secondary Schools', organised by the Education Department, the Hong Kong Arts Development Council and the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Art on 27 June 1999 (see Foreword by Clarence Mak in Education Department, 1999, 90). According to the Annual Report-Quality Insurance Inspection (Education and Manpower Bureau, 1999), no mention was made in the seminar of the teaching and learning of IT in primary school music lessons. Only one of the 13 inspected secondary schools had a computer with appropriate software installed in the music room, and the use of IT in music teaching was reported to be at an elementary stage of development (Education and Manpower Bureau, 1999). The Annual Report stated that computers and music software were accessible in the music rooms of some primary schools, but teachers had not employed them. Secondary music teachers, on the other hand, needed encouragement to integrate IT in their teaching in order to stimulate students' music learning and cultivate their creativity (Education and Manpower Bureau, 2001). The Annual Report also reported that IT was unpopular for primary school C) British Educational Communications and Technology Agency, 2004.

3 IT and music learning 59 'interactive learning in class', and that teachers' knowledge of IT applications for music lessons wvas often unsatisfactory (Education and Manpower Bureau, 2002). Primary and secondary teachers thought that IT was less applicable to music than to General Studies. English, Chinese and Mathematics (The Centre for Information Technology in School and Teacher Education. 2001). This study explores to what extent classroom music teaching benefits from IT. There are numerous studies covering the assessment of technological literacy and students' attitudes towards technology (see eg, Chow et al. 1998: Koo, 2001: Kekkonen-Moneta and Moneta, 2002: Law et al, 2000; Su et al, 2001), but changes to the quality of music education wvith the use of IT have not been evaluated. Study Ai17s This research assesses to wvhat extent the expectations of the five-year planned introduction of IT into music lessons has produced the expected paradigm shift to a learnerdirected mode of music teaching. Three major questions are addressed: (1) whether using of IT to teach music is more effective than traditional music pedagogy; (2) what teachers' views on the effects of the plan on their classroom practices were and whether they believed that IT could help improve teaching practices: and (3) whether using IT facilities increases students' interest in learning music. Metlhod Ethnographic methods were adopted to examine the everyday interactions and musical experiences of music teachers and students who used computers and music software. The semi-structured interviews, most of which were face to face, were conducted in Cantonese (a major dialect of the southern part of mainland China) between February and August Owing to the difficulties in general with working with schools to interview teachers, five music teachers and two secondary schools' students were interviewved by telephone. Notes were taken during the course of the interviews and most interviews were also audiotaped. The overall analysis examines the relations between the school culture, teaching practices, student learning and the use of IT in music lessons. All interview data are anonymous. Smnple Thirty music teachers and their students participated in the survey. All but 1 of the teachers came from different schools: 14 from primary (1 for boys and 13 coeducational) and 15 from secondary (1 for boys, 6 for girls and 8 co-educational). All the music teachers had first (undergraduate) degrees in music and 16 held MAs. Although all had been trained in music technology during either or both of their undergraduate and postgraduate studies, their use of it in school music lessons varied, mostly due to differing amounts of available equipment. Their years of teaching experience ranged from 1 to 20 years. The 543 students (313 girls and 230 boys) involved in the survey wvere attending Primary Twvo to Secondary Six (ie, Grades 2 to 12), and were aged betwveen 7 and 18 years of age (9 aged 7. 9 aged 8, 20 aged 9, 78 aged 10, 106 9, Bntish Educational Communications and Technology Agency

4 60 British Journal of Educational Technology Vol 35 No aged 11, 81 aged 12, 103 aged 13, 65 aged 13, 35 aged 14, 19 aged 15, 9 aged 17, and 9 aged 18). Seven primary schools did not have computers in their music classrooms, whilst 3 only had CD players. Projectors, computers, DVD and LD/VCD players, MIDI keyboards, synthesizers, amplifiers and some music software were common, particularly in secondary schools. Twenty schools had 1 computer in their music classrooms, whilst 1 was equipped with 4 computers and keyboards, another with 17 and another with 21. Seventeen of the teachers said they used the same amount of IT for junior and senior music classes. Six said they used more music software and technology in junior forms, because these had more time devoted to music lessons and because younger students were more willing to learn music. Six teachers thought that IT was best used for senior students' forms as they were musically more advanced and/or they could be more motivated in learning music, whilst one said that she only employed IT in her better disciplined classes. Results Teachers' views on the paradigm shift in teaching methods The major goal of the five-year IT strategy plan is to make a paradigm shift in teaching methods from their traditional focus on teachers and textbooks to focus on learners. Eleven music teachers maintained that IT was more useful than traditional music pedagogy, 9 disagreed and 10 thought it depended on the nature of the activities. The 11 music teachers who agreed thought that the new technologies held the key to improved music learning. Their reasons were varied, and included the following endorsements: "Because knowledge can be 'visualised'..." "... IT can provide more information for students to learn so as to increase the interactions between teacher and students." "...using IT can be more interesting..." "The use of IT in teaching is better than the traditional pedagogy because students can learn faster. I can teach more knowledge to them..." "IT... is better than the traditional pedagogy as IT can arouse students' interest to learn music." "Take singing as an example. The traditional pedagogy in singing is only accompanied by teacher's piano playing. Students miss the pulse very often even when the teacher is singing with them. However, with the help of IT, teacher can play the music by DVD. The accompaniment was shifted from traditional piano playing to karaoke. The karaoke consists of the attractive visual image. Lyrics of the song are also shown on the screen with the indication of the music beat. Thus students can follow the pulse easily." The 12 music teachers who said 'Depends' agreed to strike a better balance between IT and traditional pedagogy. For example: C) British Educational Communications and Technology Agency

5 IT and music learning 61 ito a certain extent, there are some ideas that IT could not replace in the traditional pedagogy.. the values found in IT could never replace the traditional value of group coordination and cooperation that was found in the rehearsal of a school band or orchestra." -It depends on what I am teaching. If it is a choir practice, then drill and practise is needed It depends on the lesson content. If you teach musical forms. IT can help a lot because I can present the content in different ways such as music listening and video watching. If singing, then drill and practise (demonstrated by the music teacher) are necessary to train a good voice." All the interviewed teachers considered the use of IT in music lessons as supplementanr to teachers and textbooks. insisting that only they could attend to the substantive content of music learning: -Teachers can see the responses of their students but IT cannot."...singing sk-ills need to be taught and students need some feedback from teacher..."...the teacher plays the main role in designing the music programme." *Music lessons need the instructions given by teachers... IT cannot replace teachers." '-Music should be taught by a music expert, not from a machine', as it doesn't teach musical expression to students..." Inevitably perhaps, most teachers agreed that they as teachers were very important both for their ability to demonstrate musical skills, and because music lessons demand interaction between teachers and students. Those opposed to the principle of using IT in music education suggested that vocal and instrumental skills were more important than IT skills. Similarly 13 teachers maintained that ustng their voices was a more natural means of demonstrating techniques. Three teachers also emphasized that music and movement, music and drama, and other creative music activities benefited from a teacher-centred approach. Quality of educationi antd thie use of technological facilities Although teachers in this study held that music technology could facilitate their work, they had different views towards the use of IT and the quality of music education. Sixteen music teachers believed that music technology improves the quality of their teaching practices. seven disagreed, one was unsure, and the rest said that it depended on what they had to teach and on the accessibility of software. For example, one teacher pointed out that. because music software was imported from Taiwan, the United States and the United Kingdom, it was written in either English or Mandarin (an official language in the Republic of Taiwan), whereas if it were written in Cantonese (the native language of Hong Kong) it would be more helpful for students. Students would find it easier to follow the Cantonese-language commands and instructions provided by the music software., Bribsh Educational Conimunications and Technology Agency 2004.

6 62 British Journal of Educational Technology Vol 35 No When asked whether the quality of music teaching should be measured by the extent to which it integrates technology, 24 teachers disagreed and only 2 said 'Yes'. Two others said 'Depends' and one 'Not Sure'. Most teachers maintained that the quality assurance system should value those teachers who have wide-ranging, flexible minds, and who are readily able to acquire musical skills and to adapt to the needs of their students. "The quality of teaching depends on teachers' qualities, not on the use of IT". "No, I don't think the quality of music education should be measured by the extent to which it integrates technology into music teaching. The traditional way of teaching still earns its values and is irreplaceable by IT." "The quality of education should depend on the teacher's teaching methods and teaching content." "...I have tried not to use IT in some classes and they can still learn well. The quality of teaching depends on teachers themselves, not on the use of IT." "...IT does not change bad teaching to good teaching..." "IT is only a medium to teach music. The quality of music education depends on various elements, such as good lesson plans, teaching methods, content appropriate to students' musical ability, etc." These teachers valued, above all, the relationship between themselves and their students, and the latter's motivation. Music teaching was often said to require a specialised didactic teaching style. Nonetheless, all teachers agreed to some extent that CDs, VCDs, DVDs, PowerPoint presentations, computers and the Internet were important tools for effective teaching. Learning motivation and use of technologicalfacilities Students were, on the whole, appreciative, saying that using IT would enhance the quality of their learning. Four hundred thirty-six students thought music technology could enhance their quality of learning, 81 disagreed, 18 said 'Depends' and 8 'Not Sure'. Students valued computer-assisted composition, and the Internet as a source of information. Those students who said 'Depends' were concerned about access to appropriate music software and teachers' technological competence, whilst others thought IT only useful for those students who already had musical interests and talent. Most maintained that music technology could facilitate and expand their musical understanding, and enhance performing, composing and listening. Students were more motivated to learn with music technology, which they found 'fun', 'interesting', 'less boring', 'relaxing', 'lively', 'happy' and so forth. Other responses were concerned with the effectiveness and outcomes of learning, rather than with the atmosphere of the classroom: British Educational Communications and Technology Agency, 2004.

7 IT and music learning 6 3 -Given more visual materials. I can understand more." '...it looks tidy to compose music on computer, rather than to write notes on a manuscript." -Technology can arouse my interest in music." 'Technology makes me learn music faster." '1 agree music technology can help me to learn music effectively." -IT provides more information." "Teachers may play wvrong notes on the piano, but music technology always plays right notes." -It is more convenient to compose a song." 'I can read the materials on computer again at home." -The skills of my piano playing will be improved by more listening to CDs." -I can improve my playing by listening to CDs." "NMv rhythmic sense could be improved. IT is more accurate at beating the pulse than the music teacher.' Those who were unmotivated by music technology either did not like the subject anyvay or found the technology too difficult to use. One emphasised that the motivation to learn music comes from students themselves and cannot be stimulated by technology. Whilst the students maintained that music technology could help them with listening, composing and performing, and with music history, they believed that activities such as choir practice and instrumental learning require teachers. Out of 543 students, 344 emphasized that it was important for music teachers to teach them how to write, sing. clap, play and compose music. and said they felt more comfortable with their teachers' singing voices than with other musical demonstrations and non-musical illustrations. -When the teacher introduces the musical instruments, [ want to look at the real ones." -When wve learn to play musical instruments, the teacher knows every individual one of us, and can adjust her teaching methods according to our abilities." "Singing cannot employ music technology I wvant to hear the real human voice, not the electronic sound.' -I can ask the teacher immediately if I do not understand [something about] music history and rhythm." D British Educational Communications and Technology Agency, 2004.

8 64 British Journal of Educational Technology Vol 35 No "Singing skills such as breathing and dynamics should be instructed by the teacher." "There is no need to use a computer in choir practice because a computer cannot demonstrate how well the students should sing. This job should only be done by the teacher." "To a certain extent, there are some areas in which IT cannot replace the traditional pedagogy, like instrumental practice and drill. Students could never know how to improve without trials on their own instruments." "If it is choir practice, then drill and practice are needed." " IT cannot teach all the musical activities. Singing requires the teacher's demonstration, eg, facial expression, mouth movement, hand gestures; but IT cannot provide such demonstrations..." "Music teaching needs more human interaction. Music teachers are the most important people to help students to develop systematic music-learning skills. They cannot be replaced by information technology and music lessons cannot be conducted by e-learning either in classroom or at home." Those students who were against computer-assisted music teaching agreed that only their music teachers recognised their musical problems and made quick responses to their needs and interests. Though students believed that practical music skills are better taught in the traditional manner, they also thought that music technology could stimulate learner-directed creative music making. Four hundred thirty-seven believed that music technology could motivate them towards more creative music making. Eighty-nine denied any relationship between their motivation to compose and their use of music technology. Similarly, three said they liked composing without computers, and six declared that music software could not help them compose. One student said that music technology was not 'romantic enough' for creativity, whilst another admitted that using IT helped her with the basic mechanics of finding notes, without which she would not have known where to begin composing. Nonetheless, 486 out of 543 students believed that they were more motivated to learn music if music technology was employed in their music lessons. Four hundred fifty-nine felt positive about using IT in their musical studies. They also felt confident with technological learning materials, from CD, LD, MD and DVD players to computers and electronic keyboards for composition. Three attributed their familiarity with computers to family members. Discussion Significant issues remain to be addressed concerning to what extent the teachers and students recognised the use of IT as tool for learning, and to what extent it can facilitate learning and teaching. Eleven out of 30 music teachers were positive about IT, whilst another 8 said 'Depends'. Although 2 5 teachers disagreed with the assumption British Educational Communications and Technology Agency

9 IT and music leaning 65 of the five-year IT strategy plan that the quality of education depends on technology, they nonetheless agreed that IT could facilitate students' musical learning. Those music teachers who felt motivated towards negotiating a paradigm shift in their teaching sought to do so with the assistance of computers, VCDs, CD-ROMs, DVDs, CD players and PowerPoint presentations. They did not, however, think computer-assisted teaching was appropriate for practical music activities such as singing, choral training, and playing instruments. Of the 543 students in this study, 344 also did not believe that IT could result in a learner-directed model for practical musical making and performance. Nonetheless, 43 7 agreed that music technology could motivate them and help them to create music and felt positive about using music software. They also agreed that a learner-directed means of music creation would be more possible with the aid of music software. Four hundred eighty-six students said that they were more motivated to learn with music technology, which they found fun and interesting. The five-year plan assumes a networked IT infrastructure and computer-literate teachers, but the interview data reveal that the use of technology is mostly limited to the use of CDs. video players and DV7D players for audio and visual presentations, and that most music rooms are equipped with only one computer. The situation is even worse in primary schools, where, as the annual reports of the Quality Insurance Inspection recognised, the use of IT is ineffectual (see Education and Manpower Bureau, 1999, 2001, 2002: also see The Centre for Information Technology in School and Teacher Education. 2001). Because the requisite technology remains ill defined, its implementation varies from school to school, so that some students may have problems accessing computers for their musical learning. The survey also reveals that most students only felt confident with the equipment that was usually available at home, such as cassette, CD and DVD players. However, the consistent message that 'IT is for all' must be promoted to ensure that as many students as possible feel part of the computer culture. Though teachers and students felt that practical music activities were better taught by instructors, they conceded that IT could help their music lessons in other ways. Rapid advances in electronic music technology have profoundly changed the way that music is composed, performed, recorded and taught. For example, students can be taught to improvre pitch and rhythm accuracy using Computer-Assisted Instruction (CAI) software, and they can isolate individual parts for rehearsal using MEDI sequencing software. MIIDI files can be downloaded from Internet sites from which and used with a sequencer to enable the student to listen to musical styles from diverse cultures. Thus, IT not only embodies the principle of e-learning (also known as Internet-based hybrid learning or distance learning). but also enables students to both create and re-create musical performances using. IT in music education not only involves replacing chalkboards with electronic displays and multimedia presentations/animations, but also provides an opportunity to re-engineer education, resulting in fundamental reforms to curriculum and pedagogy. Technology alone cannot transform school music education; excellent teachers are also required. In the opinion of both The Centre for Information Technology in School and 0 British Educational Communications and Technology Agency

10 66 British Journal of Educational Technology Vol 35 No Teacher Education (2001) and Law (2003), professional development in computer use is necessary in order for teachers and students to adapt to the new 'information society'. Teachers perceived IT to be most applicable to the core subjects of Chinese, English, General Studies and Mathematics in primary schools, and to Chinese, English and Mathematics in secondary schools (see The Centre for Information Technology in School and Teacher Education, 2001). In order to change this long-established teaching/learning habit in music, professional development should focus on helping music teachers to initiate curricular and pedagogical changes that are necessary to face the challenges of IT. It is very important that an assessment mechanism review the effectiveness of IT implementation in light of teachers' educational and musical qualifications, their sensitivity towards their students' learning and their provision of appropriate musical activities. We can conclude that the presence of a technology plan has a positive, although low correlation with other measures of the capabilities of music education in Hong Kong schools. This paper suggests that the quality of students' musical experiences can be improved encouraging professional development to facilitate a more holistic approach to the use of IT in primary and secondary schools. It will take time for the IT Committee of the school authority and the Education and Manpower Bureau (previously known as the Education Department) to nurture an IT culture in school music. Music teachers are the final gatekeepers of quality educational services and students are its final beneficiaries. Teachers' professional development, both before stepping into a classroom and while actively employed as teachers, must keep pace with rapid changes in the quantity and quality of IT. Professional societies and educational agencies should identify and disseminate technology that reflects the current needs of both teachers and students on an ongoing basis. In order to assess improvements in the quality of school music education when music technology is both accessible and well instructed, we need to examine the outcomes at both primary and secondary school levels. Today's students live in a global, knowledge-based age, and deserve teachers who embrace the best that information technology can bring to music education. Acknowledgements This research project was funded by a Faculty Research Grant from Hong Kong Baptist University. I am especially grateful to the head teachers, music teachers and students involved in the study for agreeing to participate and for providing valuable information to the research. I also thank Ms Chow Hoi-shuen for her kind assistance with data entry. Finally I would like to express my sincere thankfulness to the editor and anonymous reviewers' insightful comments on my previous manuscript. References Chow C C K, Chin K C W, Yeung RYT, Chan C and Kwan M C M (1998) A Report on a pilot study of the Hong Kong information infrastructure Hong Kong Policy Research Institute, Hong Kong. Curriculum Development Council (2000) Information technology targets Government Printer, Hong Kong. Education Commission (1997) Commission report no. 7 Government Printer, Hong Kong. British Educational Comnmunications and Technology Agency, 2004.

11 IT and music learning 67 Education Department (1999) The Application of information technology in the teaching of music: Ianrdbook for mnusic teachers 1999 Creative Arts and Home Economics Section (Music), Advisory Inspectorate Division, Education Department, Hong Kong. Education and Manpower Bureau (1998a) Information technologyfor learning in a new era:fiveyear strategy, to 2002/03 Government Printer, Hong Kong. (1998b) Informatiorn teclhnologyfor quality education:five-year strategy, to 2002/03 Consultation document, Government Printer, Hong Kong. (1999) Annuzial report-quality iusutrance inspectionz Government Printer, Hong Kong. (2001) Annutal report-quality insurance inspection Government Printer, Hong Kong. (2002) Annual report-quality insurance inspection Government Printer, Hong Kong. Government. Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (1997) 1997 Policy address: building Hong Kongfor a newv era Government Printer, Hong Kong. (1998) 1998 Policy address:frorn advisonj to opportunity Government Printer, Hong Kong. Kekkonen-Moneta S and Moneta G B (2002) B-learning in Hong Kong: comparing learning outcomes in online multimedia and lecture versions of an introductory computing course British Journal of Educatioral Technology 33, 4, Koo H C (2001) A preliminary study on the impact of IT on curriculum wvith reference to the primary mathematics curriculum in Hong Kong Education Research Journal 16, 1, Law WV IV (2003) Globalization as both threat and opportunity for the Hong Kong teaching profession Jourtal of Educational Change 4, 2, Law N, Yuen H K, Ki WV I Li S C, Lee Y and Chow Y (2000) Changing classroomn and changing schlools-a study of good practices irn using ICT in Hong Konzg schools CITE, Faculty of Education, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong. Su Z M. Kong Q Q and Jiang S X (2001) Information technology in learning and teaching: digital video clip resources bank (in Chinese) New Horizons in Education 43, The Centre for Information Technology in School and Teacher Education, Faculty of Education, The University of Hong Kong (2001) Preliminary study in reviewing the progress and evaluating the informriatiorn technology in education (ITED) projects (December 2000-August 2001) (Final Report) Government Printer, Hong Kong. D British Educational Conmunications and Technology Agency 2004.

12 COPYRIGHT INFORMATION TITLE: Use of information technology and music learning in the search for quality education SOURCE: Br J Educ Technol 35 no1 Ja 2004 WN: The magazine publisher is the copyright holder of this article and it is reproduced with permission. Further reproduction of this article in violation of the copyright is prohibited. To contact the publisher: Copyright The H.W. Wilson Company. All rights reserved.

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