Music teachers in K12 settings often have very large classes. A single teacher is frequently responsible for 50+ students at a time. When these teachers need to be absent, it is always a challenge to keep the class engaged in useful learning with a substitute. The result is a large group of students who are accustomed to having hands-on and engaging rehearsals who are suddenly expected to do busy work just to keep them under control. This module serves as a proof-of-concept for the idea that content from other musical curricula besides performance and rehearsal can be packaged and delivered to students without the need for an instructor. In this way, students can engage with content that is directly music-related, and even gain instruction in content like music history and theory which are normally avoided by K12 instructors.
I started the design process with a few potential solutions and content areas in mind. Basic sketches and wireframes helped me to determine that a music history lesson would be most suitable for this concept project. From there, I used some visual mapping to determine what content should be presented when teaching about a music history period through eLearning. A lesson plan based on Gagne’s nine events of instruction organized the content map into a sequence of interactions that would facilitate the chosen learning outcomes. From there, I used Articulate Storyline 360 to prototype and develop the module. This involved creating each of the slides, writing and loading body content into each slide, recording voiceover lines and closed captions, and then creating micro-interactions on each slide. Because this was intended to be used as a “sub plan” for absent teachers, I don’t mind that the lesson is heavy on content. However, I wanted to avoid overloading the learner with too much text at once, so I leveraged the use of interactions and animations to help the learner control the flow of information. To check for understanding, a simple aural identification exercise was created to allow learners to practice applying the information to an authentic musical context.
I gained a lot of experience in using Storyline’s more advanced controls and features in Storyline including multiple layers, conditional formatting and displays, variables, and animations. The result is a final product that, while still linear like a typical PowerPoint, allows the user to have some control over the flow of information and the order that information can be presented. Next steps for this concept would be to develop accompanying lessons for other music history periods. The concept focuses on the Romantic Era, but there is also the Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Contemporary, and 20th century eras which have established histories and contexts to explore. A full series of these “sub lessons” could be packaged for teachers to use in their own classrooms.