Thursday, 9 April 2015

BOOM! DLT tour of ”TOM CATS” music lab/classroom

(Image: Tom, Michael & Steffanie
outside the music classroom

 Firstly, we shared this class remotely via adobe connect with our fellow long-distance and at home/work students. Steffanie had a tablet and streamed our visit in real-time while Michael fielded questions from our online students.  
The class is a level four music class for inspiring musicians at EIT. The tutor “Tom” demonstrated the digital technologies he uses to enhance his music lab. The lab is equipped with apple imac computers, (most design institutions use macs for their quality and reliability). The students all have mac’s, headphones and midi keyboards at their station.  
The software that facilitates the learning is insight by Foranics. This software enables the interaction between the student and the tutor and course-work is done using this platform.
Strengths of Faronics “insight”
  • Allows the instructor to monitor all user activity from their own workstation.
  • Removes distractions by limiting web, applications, print, and drives, and blank screens.
  • Enhances communication by audio, chat, and broadcast features facilitate more interaction.
  • Assist students to control student machines, co-browse, share teacher and student monitors.
  • Assesses students’ progress by using Easy voung and testing features help gauge students understanding.
  • Simplified administration enables dynamic class list importing and ability to send/receive files and assignments.
  • Information tech console helps to easily support and manage computer labs remotely.
  • The software works on; PCs, Macs, Linux, Thin Clients, iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch (Faronics, 2015).
  • Possible over-use of teacher screen sharing;
“You can also send the teacher screen to all student computers which can be effective for a short demo or when showing a brief video. Used in moderation, this can be an effective technique; if you use it too much students get frustrated” (Suzanne Bernsten 9:30, 4 Dec 2013 (CDT))
  • Privacy - students may feel vulnerable with the tutor always peering at their work or sharing it with the whole class.
  • Tutors resisting new technologies and just prefer to use traditional aids like PowerPoint and handouts.
  • Ability to train tutors to use new digital learning technologies could be an issue for some.
I can see an opportunity for EIT to create their own version of this management system. Using third year computing students to start a project under management of a tutor. If this “insight program“ is in the $100k plus for a license doesn’t it make sense with the current knowledge and abilities that within the EIT organisation to develop their own.
I agree with Mark Linskey’s comments about collaboration as an opportunity below:
 “Collaboration - a great feature of the software is that it allows two people on two separate computers to work on the same project. This is akin to a wiki or a shared Google Doc, in that many users can alter it at the same time. This could have a massive market in the digital music collaboration industry.” (M Linskey, 2015)
  • Possible hacking into the system and students work.
  • Co-sharing too much or coping work by other class members.

Teaching students the fundamentals of the program and good file management can take some time before moving onto the main course content. Training tutors with good time management skills and preparing a solid course outline at the beginning will certainly curb any issues.
There are some tutors that will not want to use this technology, so it has to mandatory for certain courses that are obviously computer-based. Tutors will be trained in all aspects of this classroom management system and even mentored to ensure they are utilising it to its potential.
The usual no internet or network issues. Have a plan B.
Privacy issues would be easily be mitigated by the tutor and student both signing a privacy declaration prior to the course starting.
A major consideration is the expense of software like Insight is $100k plus, so perhaps finding a cost effective alternative or creating an EIT developed platform would be worth considering.
Some alternatives are;
ITALC Open Source by Tobias Doerffel, LanSchool by LanSchool Technologies, LiteManager, Netsupport School, SchoolVue by Crosstec Corporation, SMART Sync by SMART Technologies. These are aimed at the school environment and provide a solid classroom management platform.

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