The Transformation of Music Education through Distance Learning
Having grown up in a rural community in Newfoundland and Labrador, I was taught by only three different teachers between grades kindergarten and grade six, in a multi-grade school structure. These teachers had to do everything from providing canteen services to teaching physical education. I did not have the opportunity to have a music program until I was bussed to another community for junior high. I immediately joined the band program and was given a clarinet to play. In my high school a new computer program was implemented by the initiative of our principal. Through this program, I developed a new area of interest. After graduating from high school I was accepted into music school (clarinet) and continued on with my own informal technology education. In my first teaching position, I was given much support by my administration as well as the flexibility to try new things. One of my first initiatives was to set up a computer station in my classroom. It had music software to enhance my own teaching as well for students to use in their own musical development. As I look around to other areas in the provinces as well as to other provinces in Canada , I realize that my students were actually very lucky to have a music specialist and to have the resources necessary to build a comprehensive music program. . This is certainly not the case for all schools across Newfoundland and Labrador as there are still many rural schools that do not have qualified music teachers and consequently the types of expertise that will lead to the development of excellent school music programs. In this essay it is my intent to discuss the origin of distance learning in Newfoundland and Labrador, the significant learning theory of its foundation, the connection of distance learning to music education and my current research. Upon returning to university to begin a Masters in Education program this past fall, I learned of a music course that was in the process of development for high school. This course would be delivered via distance education. A music teacher in School District 9 (Avalon West) was given a contract from CDLI (Centre for Distance Education and Innovation, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador) to develop this music course. As a music teacher, I found this to be an intriguing concept and was therefore interested in finding out more information on this process of curriculum development as well discovering any implications in regarding this new course in terms of future directions for music education. To this end, I applied for a graduate assistantship with Dr. Andrea Rose, a researcher on this project, that would allow me to gain knowledge and insights about this course development. Luckily enough, I was awarded a graduate assistantship for two semesters. One task for this assistantship included research via the Internet in search of music teaching and learning resources that could be used to help supplement/enrich this course, Experiencing Music 2200. I first wanted to search the web to see if there were any other universal examples of high school courses offered online and explore the content entailed. I found two high school music courses offered online by The Virtual High School whose headquarters are in Massachusetts. The course titles are Music Composition Arranging, and Music Listening and Critique. Both of these courses are offered in an asynchronous manner and have a limited registration of 25 students per semester. CDLI and Distance Education
The Centre for Telelearning and Rural Education, Memorial University of Newfoundland’s Faculty of Education, the provincial Department of Education, the Vista School Board and Industry Canada have partnered a project for a virtual high school (VHS) within our province. This endeavour began in 1998 with an intention to meet the needs of 60,000 students in rural communities across the...
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