My Wicked Problem Project – Part A

Here is the outline for my Wicked Problem project. Please feel free to ask questions and/or give me any feedback you might have.

The educational need or opportunity
During my travels teaching in other countries, I often find that my students want to continue their education with me in some way. I have also had students I’ve worked with here in the U.S. who have returned to their home countries, but wish to keep improving on skills they’ve learned while they were here. In particular, I have some of the members of my ukulele orchestra who would like to keep learning new songs and techniques, even though they have left our school and country. I would like to find a way to effectively teach them new songs remotely; introducing new chords and strumming patterns.

My technology-integrated strategy
I will organize present, and give feedback via Edmodo, a free classroom management system. I would use a variety of techniques and technologies to teach my ukulele students across the world including: screencast and/or PowerPoint presentation of the selected song, video lesson, and a live Skype session. I will use a combination of webcams and hand-held HD video camera and will incorporate still images of chords and hand positions and may use existing video material from myself and others to help teach the song.

Logistics of my solution
I plan on using Edmodo, a free class management system. I have used this quite a bit in the past for various English as a second language, creative thinking, American culture, and music classes and have found it quite easy to use and navigate for students and instructors alike. You can post links to web content, upload documents/media files/photos, assign and submit assignments, grade, schedule, and more. I will begin to use it with some of my overseas students that have studied ukulele here with me and have moved back home, but could expand that to a variety of new students state-side and around the world.

I will need to make everything as clear as possible, since I will not be there in person to give and receive immediate feedback, although students could record a video of themselves and send it to me for evaluation. The screencast or PowerPoint should include lyrics, musical notation, explanation, and example sound files. The video would include similar things, but could approximate a live lesson a bit more easily – although the communication will only be one way. A Skype lesson may be the closest to an actual lesson, although video and audio quality can be a bit sketchy and it will be hard to show printed materials. Probably the best approach would be to have the student start off with the more static presentation, then watch and follow the video, and finish it up with the Skype lesson to see what they have figured out on their own and what needs to be polished up.

Research which supports my concept and strategies
This is one of the better articles I’ve found about teaching via video and other remote means, with many good tips. One of the things I like about this article is how it talks about how to keep things simple and not give too much information at once, which will overload the student. This simple approach extends to all elements of the video, including keeping backgrounds uncluttered and non-distracting.

Many studies have found little statistical difference in learning due to the presentation medium, whether it is face-to-face in a classroom teaching-learning process or face-to-screen in a distance education setting. What makes a course good or poor is a consequence of how well it is designed, delivered, and conducted. Som of the articles I’ve found to support this, including conceptual and production tips include:

I will record some of the instructional videos myself, but will also use some that “Ukulele Mike” has done. They are easy-to-understand and he has a nice, easy-going approach to instruction. Here is an example of his tutorial on the Beatles’ “Yesterday”, which I have used to help teach the song to my English school ukulele orchestra:

My plan based on research for implementation, indicating the portion to be completed during this course and after it is over.
During our summer session, I will set up the Edmodo site. In the fall, I will produce (or utilize existing) static and video lessons, and find a couple of remote victims . . . I mean, students. They will be presented the static and video lessons sequentially, and then I will follow up with the live Skype session in the fall and throughout the year. I will use Edmodo to not only teach, but to get helpful feedback from my students to make the course as effective and pleasurable as possible.

Indications of a successful project
They learn the songs I have presented and incorporate the new strumming patterns, chords, and other techniques which were introduced in the instruction.

4 thoughts on “My Wicked Problem Project – Part A

  1. Great project! This takes me back to the vacation my sister and I took to Canada with our combined 3 children (husbands stayed home). We listened to Cello music throughout the trip because my niece was taking lessons. I still can hear the music…I know I’m going to be dating myself when I say this….but, the Beatles are one of my favorite groups and “Yesterday” is one of my favorites=8-) Ukulele Mike has a beautiful voice – and I love the strategies he has built into his video tutorials. Great find!

  2. Hi Ben

    I love your idea. Never mind that ukelele is wonderful to listen to in and of itself, the way you will help your students keep improving their skills and feel connected to other people sharing a passion for the instrument is a beautiful thing.

    It seems like you got a good handle on how to keep the video instructions effective through avoiding overload. I use video tutorials a lot when trying to master a song on the guitar. The visual of the hands on the fretboard are key to me as well as breaking down the song clearly into its separate parts.

    Have fun!

  3. Ben, I love It.
    As a visually learner myself I think that is a great idea to connect with students long distance. The use of Edmodo will make it very interactive. We need to keep in touch because these are the very things I would like to implement.

    Good luck!

  4. Ben,
    Very interesting idea on how to use Edmodo. Since you’ve used it before, I might come to you with questions as I begin to use it for the first time for my project.

    One of your concerns was being able to share printed work via Skype. Maybe you could consider conferring with your students via another web-conferencing tool like Vyew or Adobe Connect. Those let you use webcams in addition to screen sharing.

    You also may want to consider producing some of the videos now during the summer ahead of time, at least the core concepts and then during the school year you could make videos more targeted to your students’ needs. Just some thoughts.

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