A new frontier for music educators is interactive Web-based instruction and assessment. Why? Because there aren't enough hours in the day let alone class time to do all the great things music educators can accomplish. And now with music technology, it is possible to successfully augment your curriculum as well as cleverly assess all those pressing standards.
Interactive Web-based instruction and assessment can bring you and your students together with 24/7 flexibility. Band, choral, and string performance techniques now have home instruction options because programs such as Makemusic's SmartMusic and Pyware's iPAS can improve the quality of home practice and provide accountability data.
The most recent development is numeric data assessment on your Web site that is not easily obtained in the classroom setting where teachers are overloaded with so many responsibilities. I can't think of anything more precious to busy music educators than more efficient use of their time.
Working Models for Interactive Web-Based Instruction/Assessment
Here are some examples of school Web sites that use online instruction. You'll be inspired by the creativity and efficiency of the online instruction and assessments you'll find.
- www.nadaburg.org/General_Music.htm by Robin Maynes of the Wittmann Arizona School District.
- jan.ucc.nau.edu/%7Etas3/courseindex.html by Timothy A. Smith of Flagstaff, Arizona
- www.omnidisc.com/music/ by Linda Koblern of the Julliard School of Music.
- www.nashua-plainfield.k12.ia.us/projects/chad/ by Chad Sowers of Nashua-Plainfield High School, Nashua, Iowa
- www.berkleemusic.com Berklee College of Music offers the most extensive online extension school with Web-based instruction in the world with over 60 classes.
To view their course options for ideas, go to: www.berkleemusic.com/school/courses/all.
For an outstanding example of interactive Web instruction, look no further than to Steven Chetcuti's general music Web site, "The Radio Hour" (www.theradiohour.net). A Web site creator and author, Mr. Chetcuti has created "The Radio
Hour" to engage students by creating history-based radio broadcasts incorporating music analysis, research, and creative writing in order to teach courses in Classical, Jazz, Rock and Black Music in America. This site incorporates PowerPoint presentations, music era stylistic elements, historical connections, key musicians/composers, visual music analysis graphs (call charts), and unit crossword puzzles. All sound sources for these curriculums are available from iTunes in the iMix section.
Once a student is able to navigate one unit in one of the curriculums he is able to navigate the entire site. This also aides the parent in finding information when their child has been absent or is not up to date on assignments. For a sample of the power of multimedia customized instruction integrated with "The Radio Hour," go to: www.theradiohour.net/demos.htm and see Mr. Chetcuti's PowerPoint slide shows and other technology used in his curriculum.
In today's choice-oriented, information-rich culture it is easy to see the benefits of these Web sites for both teachers and students.
Interactive Web Tools
Dreamweaver by Macromedia
Dreamweaver (featured in part 1 of this Web development series) is a primary Web site creating tool. Beyond the layouts and the input of information there are "Plug-ins" that add functionality and interactivity to the Web site. These "cool" features of a site are neither expensive, nor difficult to manipulate. However, they can take a chunk of time to learn to produce, but if you factor in the time saved in class and the number of students using the Web site daily, weekly, and yearly, it's a no-brainer!
Timesketch by Electronic Courseware Systems (ECS Media.com)
Timesketch Editor Pro is the program used to create "call charts." Timesketch facilitates listening, reading, describing, performing, and analyzing music with an easy-to-use interface to create synchronized music/text presentations of music from a variety of audio sources including CD, MP3, MIDI, Wave, and AIF files. You can define exactly which segment of a musical piece you want students to analyze and add key points to your listening guide. You can easily label form, instrumentation, and other important "elements" of music structure information right on the graph, in multi color choices of red, green, blue, and black. Adding synchronized text helps students understand what they are listening to.
To help you illustrate in depth instruction through analyzing, listening, reading, describing music and performance music there are 22 published compositions in the TimeSketch series by ECS Media covering instrumental, choral and jazz from Bach, Beethoven and Brahms to Dave Bru beck. On Steven's "The Radio Hour" Web site there are over 150 Timesketches you and your students can view, reference, and analyze for free!
The Timesketch player allows students to learn about music composition including form, themes, chordal structure and repertoire via computer's "guided" listening. I really like the multi-color option for guided listening highlighting the composition's detailed analysis along with the coordinated easy-to-use playback options. When you've designing a call chart, Timesketch Edit Pro easily exports it to your Web site.
Note: free Timesketch players are ncluded on the application CD for free distribution or downloaded from the Web site www.timesketch.net and also freely distributed to your students for 24/7 use.
GIA, at www.teachingmusic.org, has five volumes of the Teaching Through Music Performance and Band compiled by Richard Miles which has both a detailed analysis of hundreds of regularly performed band selections along with full audio recordings that can be used to make your own Timesketches. In addition, GIA also offers two volumes of choir and two volumes of orchestra making these publications a great call chart resources.
Another source is Kendor Music, which offers "Inside The Score" by Rayburn Wright that analyzes 8 jazz ensemble charts by Thad Jones, Sammy Nestico, and Bob Brookmeyer. It contains detailed examinations of voicings, melodic construction, form, orchestration, textures, passing harmonies, etc. and a CD recording is included. There may be other anthologies you know of for easy input into Timesketches. Putting colorful audio excerpts on the Web for your students to flexibility analyze is a step into cyber learning - and what a great way to implement pressure-free assessments. Read on.
XML Flash Quiz Template by Templatekit.com
Flash Quiz Template at www.templatekit.com/tstore/product_info.php?manufacturers_id=61&products_id=205 is a cheap, reliable way to create online multiple-choice quizzes for your students. "The Radio Hour" uses this quiz maker at the end of each unit. The consistency of this assessment format instills a sense of accountability in the student. The program features unlimited questions, randomized questions and answers, and a final-results page for assessment. You can also put your school logo or class name on your quizzes for a customized look. The process for creating a quiz is simple.
XML Loading Flashcard by Templatekit.com
This flashcard maker at www.templatekit.com creates interactive flashcards for your Web site with interactive buttons randomize cards, play sound samples(in .MP3 format) and remove cards from the playback that have been mastered. Some of the features include using XML to load all types of data, full featured Flash animated transitions, change card background colors, and insert audio files attached to cards. And use symbol fonts instead of text and you've created a symbol recognition guide! Samples of these flashcards can be tested at www.theradiohour.net/flashcards.htm
Crossword Weaver by Variety Games Inc.
This is one of many crossword-making programs available on the Web but there are two things that make this special. IT WORKS! Easy input of answers and clues, auto grid layout of puzzles, save and edit features are simple and effective. It only costs $29 if you are an educator using your own money (not a purchase order). This creates puzzles that you can export to a word document of publish on their Web site or export to your own site. Samples of these puzzles can be reviewed at www.theradiohour.net/demos.htm
Other Online Testing and Instructional Applications
I use both the XML Flash Quiz Template by Templatekit.com and Test Creator by Centron Software at: www.centronsoftware.com. The Test Creator makes a good final assessment tool because it has very powerful security features so each student can only take the test once and the answers can be hidden and the test results can be electronically downloaded back to the teacher.
It has a GUI interface for n-users that is marvelously easy to use. For sample tests, and a summary of product features, go to: www.centronsoftware.com/tcfonline.html. For an example of how I use these two assessment products together, go to: www.kuzmich.com/Quiz/PowerPoint/Final_PowerPoint2.html. The latest features to be added for music educators in this product are the capabilities of having audio and/or video clip buttons in the questions featuring the Wave or MP3 audio files and AVI or MPG video files as well as photos.
Hot Potatoes, version 6, is an amazing suite of five authoring tools created by the Research and Development team at the University of Victoria Humanities Computing and Med Centre. It is freeware for state-fund education institutions with detailed verification, go to: www.halfbakedsoftware.com/hot_pot_licence_terms.php. These tools create five basic interactive Web-based exercises. JQuiz creates short-answer quizzes (you can mix question types in one exercise). JCloze creates fill-in-the-blank exercises. JCross creates crossword puzzles you can complete online. JMix creates jumbled-sentence exercises. JMatch creates matching or ordering exercises. The software can be downloaded at: Web.uvic.ca/ Once inside the program you can click on the "Tutorial" menu or go to: hotpot.uvic.ca/tutorials6.htm Sample quizzes can be viewed at: www.palomar.edu/at/hotpot/. The nice thing about Hot Potatoes is that it has a GUI interface.
eWebquiz at www.activebsoftwares.com/eWebquiz/ is a Web-based quiz maker designed to create multiple choice, fill-in-the-blanks, and true-or-false questionnaires. It generates the quiz in HTML and shows the final score with answers after submission. Students are allowed to save and resume quizzes. Teachers can list which students can take the quiz and can import questions from an XML file. Each account can create an unlimited number of quizzes or one quiz can have unlimited number of questions.
Looking for some other Flash-card presenters/animators to present to your students over the Internet? The Amazing Flash Card Machine is an online flash card application at: www.flashcardmachine.com. It is an interactive Web application that allows you to create interactive Web-based study flash cards. Students can also create flash cards and share them with classmates. You can assign each set of flash cards their own username and password giving your students access without having to register. And best of all, it is free. All you have to do is register at www.flashcardmachine.com/Register/ to begin an amazing flash card system.
Virtual Flash Cards at: www.virtualflashcareds.com/ are also free. You with text, pictures and sounds. There is an extensive online library. It also provides in-depth statistics to track progress. You can print them double-sided or single-sided, choose which cards to print, and include cards often answered wrong for a quick review before the test. Another Flash card publisher is Flash Demo Builder by IncrediTools at: www.fileedge.com/all/flash-interactive-quiz/. You can build flash presentations, tutorials, product demonstrations and quizzes quickly and easily, publish online, send via email, burn to DVD, export as a Word document and publish as an executable file or an auto-run CD.
There are many good interactive crossword puzzles creating tools. Crossword Weaver by Variety Games produces some excellent, easy to use, interactive Web-based puzzles. One strength is the strong grids for symmetrical pre-forms. Its page formatting for both Web use and printouts is excellent. It can save in PDF if desired. And if you don't have a Web site, one click of a button and you can save it on the Web at: www.mycrosswords.com. Their 1-2-3 Word Search is another winner; perhaps the easiest to use among word search makers. Simply enter your words and in seconds, you have a great puzzle. Its formatting capabilities for controlling the best size of the word search is unparalleled in the industry producing good compression of words with a balanced look. It can also list clues making it more educational. Exporting capabilities are strong with PDF and HTML options.
Other interactive Web-based crossword puzzles to consider are Crossword Construction Kit at: www.crosswordkit.com, Crossword Express 7.0 at: www.crauswords.com/ and Crossword Puzzle Maker at: www.crossword-compiler.com/ If you are looking for even more options, go to: www.ibritt.com/resources/dc_games.htm and you will find eight pages of options including many interactive Web-based crossword and quiz makers.
Interactive Web-based instructional applications are now readily available for instruction and assessment and at prices you can afford. Your students will have unlimited access to your instruction. Be patient and you'll reap rewards. Steven Chetcuti estimates 25 school days of instruction are gained per school year because of his interactive Web-based curriculum.
Directors who make a Difference
Do you know a fantastic K-12 instrumental music educator who is deserving of recognition in SBO?
and tell us why he or she should be featured in SBO’s annual "Directors Who Make a Difference" report.