The purpose of technology in the classroom

This article is not specifically about music, but I think it is an excellent article about the purpose of technology in the classroom.

Favorite quotes from the article:

“It wasn’t the 600 iPads that were so impressive— it was the mindset of a teaching staff devoted to giving students time for creation and reflection.”

“The teachers cared most about how the devices could capture moments that told stories about their students’ experiences in school. Instead of focusing on what was coming out of the iPad, they were focused on what was going into it.”

The Smart Way to Use iPads in the Classroom

It’s not about the games or educational apps.

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I try to frame any learning, including anything that has to do with technology, by connecting it to create, perform, and respond – the 3 artistic processes defined by the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) in 1997.  This has been the framework for many state arts standards and remains the framework for the current revision of the National Arts Standards in the US, undergoing revision right now.  (More info here:

Although I have used iPads for “drill and kill” purposes, like letter name recognition and rhythm recognition (Read Music was the app I used), that is not the most important, powerful, or transformative use of technology.

Essentially, it is about thinking.  What are students thinking?  Understanding?  Reflecting on?  Learning?  Technology has the power to help us know THAT in ways that have not been available to us in the past.

Reflection on performance seems to be an easy way to start, as music teachers.  Having students see their singing or playing and capturing their responses through either an app or blog.  The challenge for a music teacher then becomes organizing, storing, and assessing their ideas.  But without the technology, we wouldn’t even have the option of gathering this much information.  How we use it becomes the next question.

However, as the article aptly points out . . . will we invest in the TEACHERS and allow teachers the time it takes to teach thinking, with technology as a tool.  Or will we just throw technology at students and hope for the best?  I currently teach at a school that does the former (also an international school).  I wonder if my experience will be the same when I am back teaching in the US next year.  A girl can hope.



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