With the current climate of Australian classrooms being primarily online due to COVID-19, maintaining engagement during remote learning poses a challenge for most teachers, particularly in subjects where face-to-face learning is usually the key driver.
However, MusicEDU is committed to maximising engagement through the MusicEDU Suite, which allows every student to enjoy music in the classroom.
Founder and CEO Kate Hargreaves tells Education Matters that her mission is to understand each school’s strategic direction and goals and help schools adapt their music curriculum to accommodate online learning.
“We pioneered blended learning since 2012 and now everyone has made peace with online learning – what we are now hearing from schools is that there is a lot of fatigue, and elective numbers have suffered, or the subject is not running because of the impact of COVID-19,” she says.
“Since March, the new schools who have subscribed have turned around their online engagement with students during lockdown – many are reporting back that music has become students’ favourite subject because of the activities we have put in place.”
The research MusicEDU has explored shows teenagers benefit from having music in their school lives, whether learning to play an instrument, composing a piece of music or working with others.
Hargreaves says practising music encourages teamwork, confidence and empathy, and helps students discover the satisfaction gained by creating rather than merely consuming.
MusicEDU includes the programs GameComposer, Trackformers, Studio Sessions, Keyboard Evolution, and Augmented Reality Classroom.
Each program combines traditional music concepts with the learning of industry-leading topics. Within Augmented Reality Classroom, students experience and play orchestra instruments, learn song structure via whales and their songs, and encryption through music cryptology.
“Of course, students are only half of the equation. Implementation of a new music program shouldn’t come at the expense of teachers, who already spend long hours planning curriculum, running classes and extracurricular activities,” Hargreaves says.
“That’s why we developed The MusicEDU Suite. By utilising easy-to-use technology, we’ve created classroom music programs that take the pain out of planning and, at the same time, aligned all the Curriculum to National and State standards. Plus, we’re there every step of the way, supporting teachers and adjusting the program to suit each school’s requirements while remaining affordable and effective.”
Hargreaves says recent research (Gallop 2018) has found that students who can connect our world and their learning in the classroom increase their engagement. However, she says if students can’t make that connection, then student engagement drops significantly.
“We have found that our GameComposer program has been a big hit,” she says.
“We have had some schools getting students to draw out game characters alongside the task to write out a melody for each character. The feedback is that students love it, and engagement in this style of learning has been higher due to being able to make this connection – plus, there’s the added bonus that the entire task does not have to be completed online or one a computer.”
MusicEDU programs incorporate game composition, DJ’ing, remixing, recording and augmented reality (AR) to bring technology and real-world topics into the classroom, which leads to increased student engagement.
Hargreaves says one of the biggest things during lockdowns and remote learning is not all students having instruments at home.
Having the nuts and bolts of the curriculum ready to go and presented in a way that engages students, she says, is one of the company’s biggest drawcards. That’s the MusicEDU promise: more fun, less work.
“Some schools have taken it to the next level and dressed up as their favourite band and made students do the same,” she says.
“This brings a new lease of life to online learning and makes it fun, and the students are responding because the teachers are involved. Teachers can see why The MusicEDU Suite is so appealing to their students. With the sophistication of movies, games and videos available to students on their smartphones, if their classroom curriculum resources don’t match the same standard, student engagement drops.”
By working with teachers to design a custom program alongside what the music department wants to do with their students, MusicEDU understands that every school has its differences and does not measure success in the same way.
Hargreaves says MusicEDU aims to reduce the administrative workload of teachers and assists with classroom planning; the programs are mapped to the Australian Curriculum, have self-marking formative assessments and are accessible on every device.
“Integrating the MusicEDU Suite at your school will help drive academic excellence, boost student engagement and revamp classroom music to reflect the broader opportunities the music industry now encompasses,” says Hargreaves.