Category: Moray

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Moray Council Instrumental Instruction Service 

“Swapping Musical Instruments for Computers” 

Here in Moray the small but ‘mighty’ team of instructors have been working hard to ensure our young musicians continue to have access to quality learning and teaching opportunities and instructor support during lockdown. By using Microsoft Teams instructors have been sharing challenges for their pupils to engage with in place of traditional face-to-face instruction. 

 

Learning a musical instrument is a very practical thing: from listening carefully to a young musicians sound and offering them tips and tricks to ensure they always produce their best tone, to supporting them physically by adjusting bow holds or correcting technique etc. Remote learning will never replace in-person, face-to-face music lessons, but it can bring a whole new dimension to learning and teaching musical instruments – one which enhances our service and provides learners with lots of new opportunities to develop , improve and share their experiences. 

Like many others, we faced a very steep learning curve and in the early days took our time to figure it all out. Instructors were not used to using computers as part of their daily routine and had been due to have some in-service training on GLOW in May. Having been pipped to the post and had remote working thrust upon them confidence has steadily grown and, by working collegiately, there has been lots of new learning. On our return to school buildings we’ll take with us new skills such as video editing, multi-track sound recording, knowledge and experience of various digital learning platforms and a vast library of emojis and gifs… all new skills which will benefit our young learners. 

‘Over the Rainbow’, a Music Education Partnership Group (MEPG) initiative to encourage as many of Scotland’s young musicians to perform on Thursday evenings during the clap for carers, gave us the perfect opportunity to engage our pupils online. Instructors digitally editedannotated and shared sheet music; recorded, edited and uploaded tutorial videos; and encouraged pupils to make their own sound and video recordings to share with their team. On the 30 April lots of Moray’s young musicians took to their doorsteps, not only bringing music to their quiet communities but boosting their confidence, building their resilience, and giving them opportunities to share their learning with others. 

With the future in mind we look forward to developing our digital skills and enhancing our service even further by (hopefully) offering pupils video lessons; adding digital learning platforms to our learning and teaching toolkit allowing us to support our pupils between lessons by sharing tutorials etc; and empowering instructors to take ownership of digital learning and teaching in their ASGs. 

 

Facebook: @MorayMusicCentre 

Instructor Over the Rainbow video. 

 

 

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Removing Barriers to Learning Computing Science at Speyside School

As a teacher of Computer Science I’ve always looked for ways to remove barriers to learning and make the curriculum more accessible. One of the biggest hurdles to this has been the complex nature of managing the installation and use of IDEs (Integrated Development Environments) to teach computer programming. Without a burning passion for the subject, you can forget getting a young person to download something like Microsoft Visual Studio or Eclipse at home.

A few years ago, whilst looking for a solution to my concerns I switched to repl.it to teach computer programming with the language Python. Repl.it is an online development environment which is completely browser based and requires no software installations on the user’s device. It is device and operating system agnostic, so it will work on desktops, laptops, mobile and tablet devices.

An example of the repl.it programming interface (Python 3.8)

An example of the repl.it programming interface (Python 3.8)

Over this period, I have transitioned from using repl.it to teach software design, to using repl.it to teach all practical elements of the course with support for creating rich web content using HTML, CSS and JavaScript and interrogating databases using SQLite. Students can easily share these projects with each other and with me. There are even tools to allow students to work together on the same project, allowing for latency free peer programming through repl.it’s “multiplayer” feature.

Repl.it provides tools for assessment, through their Assignments tool which provides the student with a set of instructions, a pre-populated piece of code as a starting point and a console window. The student can then submit the assignment to the teacher for written feedback and receives a notification when this is sent to them. Repl.it assignments also allow for test conditions to be set to provide some level of instant feedback to the student.

 

 

An example of an assignment in Repl.it showing student code, instructions, console and feedback area.

This has enabled my students and I to make a smooth transition from classroom teaching to remote learning for National 5 and Higher Computing Science during the COVID-19 lockdown. Although using online tools for home learning has always been a part of my pedagogical practice at this school, I’ve adapted my methods slightly. At Speyside High School, learners are currently using a combination of Google Classroom, Scholar, repl.it and YouTube videos that I have created to begin their new Senior Phase courses.

To create learning materials, I am using OBS Studio to capture my screen and webcam, which means I am then able to explain concepts to the students as if I was teaching a class and seamlessly flip between my course material and my live coding environment on repl.it.

The tools mentioned in this blogpost are all free to use for teachers.

Repl.it can be found at www.repl.it
OBS Studio can be found at www.obsproject.com


Marc McWhirter
PT Computing & Technical / Speyside High School
@SpeysideCS

Speyside High @speysiderector