week 5.1 – Solving an Educational Challenge: Possibilities

Last week in our ED 256 class, fellow grad students brainstormed for each other some different ways to imagine solving educational problems. This week we are to discuss two solutions from that brainstorming session that help us solve the educational challenge we set forth last week. For this week’s blog, I will briefly describe my educational challenge and then highlight two possible solutions culled from the brainstorming session.


This challenge basically concerns content in a course about music and popular culture in North America. This would be a general education college level or possibly high school level course in a large lecture class setting of a 100 plus students. Ultimately, the course addresses issues of class, race, gender, and age (social theory). The challenge asks: How can we integrate technology into a large lecture class setting to teach students about social theory?

There were many great ideas about how to approach this challenge. We are to choose two to highlight this week. While I will be describing each solution separately, it is very possible they could be combined.
Solution #1: Making Use of Online Social Networks, Facebook Links, Edmodo, or ???
The social interaction of students online is already a solid reality.  Using this network technology was mentioned as a way to engage students collaboratively and to put them in conversation about the content of the course. Guided by the teacher, the larger social issues of the content could be worked out in smaller groups where individual students choose specific issues to discuss through musical genres or artist narratives. These narratives, which would entail collaborative discussions and decisions concerning race, gender, etc., might make use of historical musical archives or create new experiences. The point is to have students work together to imagine, or to historically relate, the ways in which social theory is a part of real life events. The possibilities of this interaction through the use of blogs, making videos, creating apps, or using other technology to create narratives is very enticing, and would allow choices for different kinds of learners to use different kinds of formats.
Additionally, this particular course has a writing component. A blog or other social media site would give students the opportunity to respectfully comment on each others ideas and writings. I drew inspiration for this from a successful use of the idea by Carole McGranahan at the University of Colorado: Using Social Media to Teach Theory to Undergraduate Students
Solution #2: Interactive Gaming Platform
I was inspired by the reading we had for week three by Squire and Jan’s augmented reality game Mad City Mystery.* Designing a game that allows students to interact in virtual, musical social settings is exactly where this course material might be most effective. Squire and Jan identify “at least five core features pertinent to designing games for learning” (2007:8). These are listed below along with the possible ways they may work for this educational challenge:
-Inhabit roles: link social interaction and choices to real world consequences
-Challenges: students switch roles, negotiating differences and different outcomes
-Places and spaces: tying goals to particular places, historic musical spaces perhaps?
-Embedding authentic resources and tools: use of non-playing characters (NPCs) or things?, objects?, to enhance the learning and relate social theory
-Collaboration: promote competition and a sense of community
In this last feature, collaboration, would it be possible for smaller groups of students to come together as one large group to realize how the social decisions of smaller groups have consequences for larger groups? For example, learning about the impact of colonialism regarding dominant and minority groups of people using music as a lens would be very helpful and fun.  Well, at least fun for me!
*Squire, K., & Jan, M. 2007. “Mad City Mystery: Developing Scientific Argumentation Skills with a Place-based Augmented Reality Game on Handheld Computers.” Journal of Science Education and Technology. 16, no 1. 5-29.

One thought on “week 5.1 – Solving an Educational Challenge: Possibilities

  1. dani92026 says:

    Great ideas! I particularly like that both ideas engage students in collaboration.

    There are several of you considering developing concepts for different types of games. If you go in that direction, it might be useful to think how you can collaborate with other groups to share ideas and resources.

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