Use of technology in teaching and learning
Information and communication technology (ICT) are leading mechanisms to develop teaching and learning in dance. ICT cannot replace the physical practice of dance or teach the effort or movement quality in space.
I believe ICT provides modern and effective tools to augment the experience of dance and peer interaction which foster learners’ creativity, lifelong skills and dance experience desired by young artists.
Level of use of ICT in dance teaching
The Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) reformed Scottish National and Higher dance syllabi and acknowledged the significant opportunities for student learning in dance through the use of ICT for 3-18 years. Not only does the use of ICT in dance assist with classroom learning, but it also provides a continuum of learning with the study of Dance and Technology in further education. Use of ICT in community dance is not as extensive.
Use of ICT for lesson preparation and assessment
I use a computer to write lesson plans and prepare a range of teaching resources for Community and Higher dance from powerpoints to course notes and assignments to supplement learning. My progression as a reflective practitioner shows in my evaluations and time spent refining content and in internet searches to develop teaching methods. I record written responses to learners work on word documents and grades on spreadsheets which can be emailed to learners/examiners. These methods are effective but time consuming. Video recording technique, choreography and evaluations provides a faster method to gather evidence of teaching/learning progression. In contrast to my Higher dance students who completed their viva with a visiting examiner and excellent arrangement will allow me to complete my teaching viva using skype. This overcomes problems of communicating my dance teaching knowledge at a distance.
Dancers completing National and Higher Dance exams must prepare a formatively assessed logbook to provide evidence of their progress. Particularly in the previous Higher students were asked to keep a log of their fitness. Blog sites like WordPress provide a way for students to write entries on their progress and to assist less organised students to keep rack of their progress and work. I have found students to be enthusiastic in the use of blogs and had even logged in using their phones before the computers had time to switch on!. North Ayrshire Council have WordPress sites which are monitored and more secure so that students will be protected online. I have also used journals in this way to also inspire my Science classes. An early stage blog is found through this following link ScienceLabBlog
North Ayrshire also provide staff with links to CPD events and e-learning activities for students to augment learning in lessons. Unfortunatelyy the latter does not contain any links for dance.
Use of ICT for dance research
National and Higher dance syllabi in Scotland require learners to research the origins of dance styles and artists. I encourage learners to use the internet to research key practitioners and social/historical contexts. Leaners have the ICT skills needed to gather significant information. They are unclear on whether a website is a trustworthy source and the importance of copyright to prove this validity. Learners also struggle to compile all the information available on the web into a succinct report. Often work is extensively copied and full of extraneous information. Tutor feedback is needed to focus learners on objectives.
In educational setting, I communicate remotely with learners through the secure teaching/learning app Edmodo. Edmodo supports group learning better than email, as it provides an electronic forum where I can set and receive assignments and provide immediate responses which are posted to all of the class as learners encounter questions. As a mature learner, I appreciated electronic feedback to my essays as the tutor provided corrections in the document and I could review learning points of emailed work in my own time.
I also use internet research in educational settings to find themes and stimuli for choreography. Learners can explore choreography ideas using an internet research. The app p-interest allows learners to tag and store video-clips and photos to be accessed from their phone or computer. This makes it easier for learners to generate electronic mood-boards from which to inspire motifs to initiate the choreography progress. This rarely links efficiently into a dance lesson as few studios have internet connection.
To investigate the value of ICT to learning and assessment, I challenged my 8-13 years community class to find internet pictures related to recently taught space and shape topics and electronically attach these to a background. By skilfully linking shapes, dance and space pictures it showed dancers understood objectives.
Use of ICT for dance videos
Filming dance is a verification requirement in retention of evidence for CfE Dance qualifications. My video recordings document dancers’ kinaesthetic response to the dance process and technical or creative units. Being able to pause, discuss and replay has enabled assessment and cross-marking of students’ work. Higher and National syllabi provide the option for video documentation of verbal evaluations of technique and creative work rather than written responses. This flexible approach benefits different learning styles and verbal recordings assists where learning difficulties, like dyslexia, make writing awkward. Visual learners also have the option to return pictures in an electronically prepared booklet rather than a written response.
I feel the more significant use of video recordings allows learners to review their technique and self-evaluate. Reviewing filmed work on powerpoint or ipad as a class allows correction through discussion which promotes critical thinking and evaluation if I guide students to meet the learning objectives. I also use instant playback of filmed practice to allow individuals to observe and review alignment, shape, flow, weight and space.
I make sections of the lesson available to learners using secure sites, like Vimeo, which are password protected and prevent video sharing. Learners state that by watching a lesson they participated in allows identification of improvements needed and they benefit from listening to corrections and observing others. I also notice benefits to technique and performance in the next lesson. I self-evaluate recordings of my lessons to analyse my teaching and provide next learning steps. Tutor feedback of filmed lessons during teacher training allowed me to more quickly rectify teaching points and expand my understanding.
ICT is a useful tool when used in conjunction with dance practice. Online learning or video streaming alone cannot replace the artistry of dance, technical experience gained from performing and practicing or group interactions that feed the creative learning process. It is illegal to film children <16 years without parental consent. I prohibit learners from filming to prevent uploading of recordings to Youtube, Facebook or Twitter.
Use of ICT to augment lessons
ICT provides a diverse range of teaching strategies which can meet the 4 learning styles and needs of dancers through active learning. As I have progressed as a teacher I have incorporated the following ICT resources during lesson planning to augment learning experiences of physical dance.
- I use Powerpoint as a useful way of introducing or summarising concepts. It provides additional focus during auditory instruction if I include written summaries, visual pictures, video clips and interactive tasks when linked to an electronic ‘Smartboard’. Powerpoint, if short in duration allows learners to visualise creative ideas or techniques I have planned to develop in my lesson.
- In school, learners aged 11-18 complete electronic journals. I encourage dancers to include reflections on performance, composition and appreciation. I feel this journal maps improvements and provides learners with evidence for interviews for college or university places if entries are regularly completed.
- Students have used choreographic software to construct palettes of shapes to be used in dance composition. Basic programmes permitted learners to experiment with influences of Laban’s actions. This ICT activity allowed learners with mobility difficulties to access the learning objectives but I feel it did not improve benefits gained from physically interacting and appreciating the movement which benefits choreography. Costs make these programmes unsuitable for use in my community classes.
- Podcams have allowed learners in different situations to link up. My community dancers have observed a live performance on line and been able to ask the artists questions as though they were present. Linking remotely with other dancers was cheap to set up, benefited group discussion and improved understanding and creativity. It did not reveal the full value of performance experience live.
- I find young learners are eager to use iphones but I discourage them in the studio. However, dance posters outside the studio have QR codes. Learners with an iphone can interact by downloading an app. Learners view a tagged website/video which supports relevant investigation of the artists and dance style. I have found QR codes provide an inspiring teaching resource to lead into a learning task.
Use of ICT to improve performance
I also use ICT to improve performance quality. This was particularly important in a dance sharing where more technically proficient higher dancers performed after the XL class. I carefully used ICT to benefit the performance of both groups. I worked with the school computing department to edit videoed interviews with XL students into a short video clip which I projected onto a screen at the start of the XL performance. This artificially compensated for their demeanour which initially limited stage presence. As the video ended I gained the audiences’ attention by projecting light onto the stage to provide shadows of the XL learners shapes behind a cloth. The audience were impressed by their performance as the use of ICT removed focus from their learning needs. I used minimal ICT to emphasise that the Higher Dance performance quality was supported by their technical ability and artistry. I only used a projected backdrop to set the performance and lighting to accentuate contrasts in mood or highlight individual or group skills.