Teachers need every tool they can get their hands on.
In the school environment, simply being a little more productive can mean the difference between life or death. Managing a classroom full-time can be daunting, and it is a skillset in itself. As technology improves, so should our ease controlling the classroom environment so children spend more time learning, we spend less time worrying, and everyone spends more time having fun.
Productivity Tools, Classroom, & Lab Management
Being familiar with all of the popular, important music applications is important, but a balanced background in all office programs is just as critical. Text, spreadsheet, and database editors are what the business and professional world use to communicate. If you don’t know how to use any of those programs, then you might as well be a music teacher in the desert for all of the use you’ll have when it comes to the heavy, administrative side of education. Microsoft and Apple offer great deals on their respective information processors (Word, Excel, Pages, and Numbers).
A number of mobile or tablet applications also make great classroom or lab management tools; the sheer amount of attendance takers, grade crunchers, automatic detention taskers, and more is astounding, and it grows everyday. Remember, the easier it is for you to complete your administrative duties, the easier it is to manage your students, and the nicer you will be to everyone you interact with.
Potential music technologists and educators must understand the fundamentals of computing if they are to ever hold a position in their respective fields someday. This includes a working knowledge of inputs, outputs, media storage units, hardware, any CPU towers, and monitors in your lab or classroom. This also includes the operating system, software, virus protection, and anything else on any computer.
Lab Management and Network Systems
Managing a lab requires a working knowledge of not only how the computers operate on their own, but how they interact with everything else as well. This includes all technology in the room; SMARTboards, projectors, ethernet wiring, wireless internet, MIDI transfers, screen-sharing, master controls and protection software… the list goes on. How do your keyboards connect to their respective monitors? Is there a USB adapter involved? What do you use for networking? It is up to the music teacher, and them alone, to manage these responsibilities. If the teacher does not feel qualified to set up, fix, or modify any of these installations, then it follows that it is their responsibility as well to contact the appropriate organizations for their services (SoundTree is an excellent company for the integration of audio, video, and computational technologies).
The road to from student to music educator is a long one, especially with all of the technology to be aware of. It is, however, a very doable one, and we have our mentors, older peers, and professors as models and proof of this accomplishment. The only thing we can do is keep on learning, and to maintain an open mind: technology is ever-changing, and nothing will ever change that. So, instead of resisting new opportunities, challenges, and experiences, we can embrace that change, and allow ourselves to continue to grow as musicians, educators, and technologists in our own right. After all, who will be teaching the next generation of educators thirty years from now?