As soon as I saw the words ‘digital content’ paired with the requirement to include ‘widgets and interactive media’ when looking at the requirements for this assignment I knew I was on the backfoot. I don’t have a Mac computer and therefore do not have access to iBooks in all their multi use, aesthetically pleasing glory.
So I knew I’d have to get pretty creative with Powerpoint. I got the idea of shaping the powerpoint as a template for not only the composition process but as a ready to hand in reflection diary from my prac supervisor who did a similar thing with the year 9s. She called it a ‘digital portfolio’. I have included text instructions, examples in picture and video form, and spaces for the student (and myself when I get to stage 2 of this assignment, testing to see if it works!) to add reflections and own material. This sort of format makes it easy for students show their process and encourages them to include the many drafts as they work through them.It also makes it very compact and easy to present to the teacher, small peer groups or whole class for critique along the way, something Ron Berger encourages in his book, An Ethic of Excellence (2003).
It was important to me, even though I know the briefing was for digital content, to have opportunities for students to do physical creative work, mostly in the form of brainstorms. I know that I learn best that way, so I’m sure many other students also do. It’s also a great way to encourage cross curriculum skills such as art, graphics design and English. It was also important for me to embrace the idea of whatever I am asking the students to do, I am also doing (Project Based Learning anyone?). That is why some instructions are in video format, and I have provided self-made exemplars of many tasks.
One thing I’ve enjoyed about the process of this project so far is being able to research how Whitacre has written his pieces and being able to replicate a pretty close approximation of his processes. It makes it feel a lot more attainable and authentic. Also Whitacre liked one of my tweets about this project, which was very exciting for me. The fact that he is so active on social media would be a great thing to exploit in the classroom during this project, students could be tweeting at him or posting on his facebook wall and he’d most likely reply, which is pretty thrilling. His website and facebook has many articles and tidbits about his composition process. His Ted talks about virtual choir, and his collaborative projects with NASA create a great springboard for conversations about what art music composition looks like in the 21st century.
I’m still terrified about actually having to compose, and I did feel a little like I was writing this content blind as I do not consider myself a composer at all, but less so than what I would have felt last year. Maybe by the end of this degree I’ll want to redo it as a composition major? We’ll see.
Berger, R. (2003). An Ethic of Excellence. Portsmouth: Heinemann.