Technological Choices and Challenges in Preparing Resources for Teaching Children's Dance Composition

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This article was downloaded by: [University of Lethbridge]On: 04 October 2014, At: 00:23Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UKEarly Child Development and CarePublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information: Choices andChallenges in Preparing Resourcesfor Teaching Children's DanceCompositionJohn Schiller aa The University of Newcastle , New South Wales, AustraliaPublished online: 07 Jul 2006.To cite this article: John Schiller (2001) Technological Choices and Challenges in PreparingResources for Teaching Children's Dance Composition, Early Child Development and Care,171:1, 1-10, DOI: 10.1080/0300443011710101To link to this article: SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLETaylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information(the Content) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor& Francis, our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warrantieswhatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of theContent. Any opinions and views expressed in this publication are the opinions andviews of the authors, and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. Theaccuracy of the Content should not be relied upon and should be independentlyverified with primary sources of information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liablefor any losses, actions, claims, proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages,and other liabilities whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly or indirectlyin connection with, in relation to or arising out of the use of the Content.This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes.Any substantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing, systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expresslyforbidden. Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at Child Development and Care, 2001, Vol. 171, pp. 1-10Reprints available directly from the publisherPhotocopying permitted by license only 2001 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V.Published by license underthe Gordon and Breach Publishers imprint,a member of the Taylor & Francis Group.Technological Choices and Challengesin Preparing Resources for TeachingChildren's Dance CompositionJOHN SCHILLERThe University of Newcastle, New South Wales, AustraliaThrough a National Teaching Development Grant this project facilitated the compilation, productionand trial of a series of videotaped sequences, production and use of original music for dance on a CD/audiotape, and development of a self-instructional study guide for use by early childhood/primarystudents studying via a distance education mode. This paper reports on the challenges in designingand developing these resources for pre-service and in-service teacher training programs in whichchildren's dance composition was the focus and flexible learning was the emphasis.Key words: Distance education, dance composition, videotape production, young children,self-instructional materialsTeaching dance composition is a difficult challenge for the majority of EarlyChildhood/Primary teachers in Australia who do not have specialised training inthis area. Through CAUT (the Committee for the Advancement of UniversityTeaching), a collaborative teaching project was awarded to a metropolitan and aregional university in NSW, Australia to "Demystify the teaching of movement/dance composition in early childhood distance education". The project focus wason teaching movement/dance composition to young children and the aim was toimprove skills, confidence, knowledge and practice of early childhood/primaryundergraduate teachers in relation to dance composition (arguably the mostdifficult component of the Creative Arts Syllabus in NSW). The NationalTeaching Development Grant to support this project facilitated the compilation,production and trial of a series of videotaped sequences, production and use oforiginal music for dance on a CD/audiotape, and development of a self-instruc-tional study guide for use by early childhood/primary students studying via adistance education mode.lDownloaded by [University of Lethbridge] at 00:23 04 October 2014 J. SCHILLERThis paper reports on the challenges in designing and developing these re-sources for pre-service and in-service teacher training programs in which chil-dren's dance composition was the focus and flexible learning, involving distanceeducation strategies, was the mode of operation.LEARNING AT A DISTANCEAs learning through doing was the underlying rationale for this project, aiearner-oriented' as distinct from a 'subject-oriented' approach to planning(Rowntree, 1990) was the major consideration in the development of self-instructional resources. A systematic planning approach was used in which fouraspects; namely, purposes, design of learning experiences, evaluation, and im-provement, determined the overall project structure where the needs of thelearner provided the starting point (Lambert and Clyde, 2000; Laurillard, 1993;Rowntree, 1990).In considering the purposes of the project, the following contextual factors hadto be considered: (a) teaching dance composition to young children is complexand perceived as daunting for student teachers who lack confidence in theirmovement ability (Dyer and Schiller, 1996); (b) a rapidly changing teachereducation environment in Australia, characterised by reduced funding for uni-versity courses, greater emphasis on the learning needs and outcomes of studentteachers, and increased accountability for the diverse needs of students in whichthere is a move to more flexible delivery and interaction in university courses(Alexander and McKenzie, 1998); and, (c) the challenge in early childhood/primary teacher education courses is to incorporate appropriate teaching/learningapproaches which use accessible, cost-effective resources for teaching dance withyoung children.Further, the young child moves to learn and in so doing, learns to move (Meier,Hansen and Olsen, 1991) so movement play, dance, gymnastics and games areessential components of early childhood/primary curriculum and are included inteacher education courses. However, skill in teaching movement (specificallyintroduction to creating and composing movement/dance sequences) depends ondevelopment of positive interaction and rapport between teacher and students inworkshop sessions (Stinson, 1988; Dyer and Schiller, 1996) which does nottranslate easily into distance education modes of delivery. University subjects aretaken via distance education by students whose circumstances prevent themattending lectures. For example, early childhood distance students in this projectwere scattered throughout all states of Australia.Downloaded by [University of Lethbridge] at 00:23 04 October 2014 TECHNOLOGICAL CHOICES AND CHALLENGES 3Previous unit evaluations by distance students had identified a mystique aboutchoreographing movement sequences for classroom settings and assignmentsfrom distance education students who lacked the creativity and enthusiasm evi-dent in the work of their on-campus colleagues in the same movement/dance unit.Therefore, as very few Australian resources existed, the challenge in this projectwas to develop materials which fulfilled the same purpose as workshop sessionsin building students' confidence and competence, but applied them to a distanceeducation context.A project team was established consisting of an early childhood movementexpert who had taught movement composition through a workshop and lectureapproach to early childhood teacher trainees, a dance expert, experienced inproviding workshops for practising teachers in dance and creative movement,including dance composition, and the author, who had worked extensively indesigning and producing distance education teaching resources for student tea-chers. The project was based at a city university where early childhood teachertraining was a speciality but the design and production expertise was located at aregional university located over two hours travelling time away. A collaborativeteam approach to developing self-instructional teaching and learning resourceswas critical to the success of this project because each member brought differentlevels and types of expertise to the group.A range of options in using teaching media in higher education including audioand video as well as computer based technologies was considered (Laurillard,1993) but as computer based technologies using the Internet were not sufficientlytechnologically advanced nor as available to all students at that time, more tra-ditional media, including printed resources, were selected. The challenge was touse these media to achieve positive outcomes for student teachers who had little,or no experience in movement/dance and were studying at a distance.DESIGN AND PRODUCTION CHOICESHaving decided on production of videotaped sequences, supported by self-in-structional printed materials and music resources in the form of a CD, the pro-duction team spent considerable time developing a simulated workshop approachwhich could be used at a distance by student teachers with varying under-standings of dance composition. This approach replicated the workshop approachas much as possible by using the on campus, adult student teachers in a workshopsetting and then working with these same student teachers paired with three andfour year old children from a nearby daycare centre. To give additional insightDownloaded by [University of Lethbridge] at 00:23 04 October 2014 4 J. SCHILLERinto working with children, the lecturers also demonstrated the same conceptswith Kindergarten to Year 3 classes in an inner city public school (Schiller andSchiller, 2000).Producing Videotape SequencesTechniques were developed for videotaping dance composition workshops usinga two camera video crew, working without rehearsal and without the need formultiple "takes", in university workshop and school settings with groups ofadults interacting with young children (including children with learning dis-abilities). Stimuli for the teaching sequences included use of classroom objects(such as chairs) as props and inexpensive resources (such as lengths of elasticmaterial, soft woollen balls, ribbons, children's shoes, and lengths of material).Integration across the curriculum (using maths, language, art, music, science anddrama) was highlighted in the videotaped lessons in order to make the content ofmovement/dance accessible to all teachers. Movement for relaxation using TaiChi techniques was also included in the videotaped lessons with adults andchildren to enhance perception of different philosophies and cultural diversity inmovement styles.A common videotaping format was used for all teaching sessions. Two videocameras recorded the entire lesson with both cameras videotaping continuously.One camera remained stationery to give an overview of the class and teacher, withsome panning to ensure that the teacher remained in view all of the time. The other,hand-held camera was moved around the room with the teacher as the central focusin the viewfinder and attention being paid to interesting movement sequencescreated by the children as determined by the camera operator. This gave twoperspectives for each lesson; that is, teacher and learner. This technique enabledvideotaping for complete lessons with only minor breaks as videotapes were ex-changed in each of the cameras at the end of either 20 or 30 minute sequences.Previous experiences with videotaping teaching sequences had demonstratedthat the recording of sound in a classroom setting would be an important issue(Schiller, 1992). Therefore, a remotely-controlled transmitter microphone, clip-ped to the lecturers clothing, ensured quality sound and allowed for flexiblemovement around the room. In addition to this major sound source, a secondmicrophone on each of the cameras recorded the general sounds from the roomon a second channel on each of the videotapes so that sound sources could bemixed in the final editing. All sessions were videotaped under normal lightingconditions in a movement studio at the University and an old assembly hall in theinner city school. As the aim of the project was to make dance accessible, settingsDownloaded by [University of Lethbridge] at 00:23 04 October 2014 TECHNOLOGICAL CHOICES AND CHALLENGES 5and materials were kept simple and realistic and the intrusion of technical gear forvideotaping was kept to a minimum. All children in the classes participated,including children with disabilities such as cerebral palsy and epilepsy.The rationale for videotaping entire lessons was to ensure minimum disruptionby the technology and to ensure that, during the editing process, specific sequencescould be isolated to show interactions between individuals, pairs and small groups.With post-production editing, the intention was that the flow of sequences could bestopped at appropriate times so that the viewer (the distance education student)could reflect on the concept before trialing it with a small group of children. Thefacility to stop and start the videotape and to repeat more complex sequences untilthe concept was clear, was seen as the major strength of using videotape to de-monstrate movement/dance concepts. However, it is accepted that the linear natureof this form of access to movement sequences would not fully meet the needs of theadult learner, so future plans are to place these sequences on CD-ROM or theInternet where non-linear computerised access is possible.Producing a Self-instructional Learning GuideThe other major emphasis was to develop self-instructional materials in printedform to accompany the videotape. This self-instructional guide supplemented thevideo by (a) detailing concepts and sequences, (b) providing an educational ra-tionale for each component, (c) suggesting ways of working with adults andchildren, (d) proposing ideas on how to organise and approach the teaching ofmovement/dance, and (e) encouraging development of concepts for local contextsand specific communities. The printed guide was divided into five major topics.Each topic contained an overview of issues involved, background material, sug-gested teaching strategies, a list of the accompanying video sequences, requiredreadings and references, and self-test questions. Previous experiences of the pro-duction team in designing distance education resources ensured that everythingthat a lecturer might say to a student during a face-to-face tutorial was writtendown, forming a 'tutorial-in-print' for the distant learner (Rowntree, 1990).Original Music for Movement/DanceAs selection of appropriate music is a time consuming and difficult task for theuninitiated teacher of movement/dance, an audio tape of original music andrhythms, using piano, percussion, drums and electronic instruments, was de-signed to illustrate use of a wide variety of music styles for movement/dancecomposition. Three musicians familiar with accompanying dance (includingDownloaded by [University of Lethbridge] at 00:23 04 October 2014 6 J. SCHILLERclassical, modern and multicultural influences) were engaged to record originalmusic for dance/movement. Each completed a pilot tape which was used inmovement classes in the first stages of the project, and, following teacher/lecturerfeedback, additional sections were added, new compositions sought, and ad-justments were made prior to final recording in a sound studio and mixing for themaster compact disc.Trial of MaterialsInitially, these materials were trialed in draft form with 35 distance education, earlychildhood student teachers. Based on feedback from the trial, the printed materialswere restmctured and expanded, and further editing of the video material wasundertaken to provide a wider cross section of examples, which were cross re-ferenced with the printed material. Largely as a result of student recommendationsto other student teachers regarding subject options and the use of the approachdeveloped through this project, there was a threefold increase in enrolment in theunit in the following semester. Half of this group completed the subject by distanceeducation while the other half were on campus students who used the materials andapproaches in a modified on-campus approach in which lectures were replaced byreadings and the self-instructional package, although weekly workshops werecontinued. The distance education group came on campus for one full dayworkshop only, but had their own copies of videotaped lessons and workshops inlieu of the weekly workshops, and lecturers were available for consultation byphone and/or e-mail. Extensive feedback was obtained through completion ofsurveys, focus group discussions and telephone interviews. Analysis of assign-ments and videotapes of lessons provided a rich source of information about waysin which dance composition approaches and strategies were implemented in theearly childhood classrooms. The data indicate that, as a result of using the printedand video materials, early childhood student teachers had developed confidence inteaching movement/dance composition and that they understood teaching tech-niques and the process of eliciting ideas from children which they would use andbuild upon for dance composition (Schiller and Schiller, 2000).DESIGN AND PRODUCTION CHALLENGESVideotapeWorking spontaneously with very young children involving movement sequencesand dance composition requires camera operators to capture short segments orbursts of activity which the young child offers and which cannot be pre-planned.Downloaded by [University of Lethbridge] at 00:23 04 October 2014 TECHNOLOGICAL CHOICES AND CHALLENGES 7Hence the camera operators were required to both scan the group of children torecord group responses and simultaneously to focus on individuals who wereengrossed in their explorations. Often the mere awareness of the camera nearbystopped the young child's movement altogether and ruined concentration. Hencethe task was quite daunting for the student teachers and camera operators. Somuch can happen in movement class which cannot be captured on tape as theoperator may be facing the wrong way or the view of a particular child is blockedby another person, or the camera operator cannot quickly assess the importanceof a spontaneous offering from a child and how that might be utilised by thelecturer and incorporated into the movement sequence. Therefore, to maximiseopportunities to capture appropriate movement, both video cameras filmed con-tinuously during each demonstration lesson.Audio DifficultiesDespite considerable care in preparing for audio recording, problems occurred inthe first recording sessions because the small transmitter packs strapped to thelecturer's back and attached to the remote microphone clipped to the lecturer'sclothing could not cope with any intense movement by the lecturer/teacher suchas hops, leaps or jumps. Slight movement of batteries in the pack meant thatclicking noises and occasional, short, intermittent periods of silence occurred inthe recording. Furthermore, at one of the key recording sessions, the remotemicrophones were inadvertently turned off necessitating the complex dubbing ofsound during the editing phase. A more expensive remote microphone systemused in later recording sessions and closer, critical attention to sound recording bytechnicians overcame these problems.Editing IssuesSix hours of edited videotape, illustrating complete teaching sequences with adultstudents and children in three different age groups in two settings, have beenproduced. Further editing was required to break the lesson length sequences intoshorter, separate components to illustrate specific tasks at different levels ofdifficulty and/or to illustrate different features of the same task. These shortersequences were then linked more closely with a restructured self-instructionalpackage. Although this level of linkage was intended as an outcome of theproject, the cost of the editing time required to more tightly edit material fromtwo video sources, and to restructure the printed material to use these shortersequences more effectively, was beyond the funding provided. Difficulties inDownloaded by [University of Lethbridge] at 00:23 04 October 2014 8 J. SCHILLERscheduling sufficient editing sessions, which often had to compete with demandsof other projects, in the case of the technical crew, and competing work demandsin terms of the academic members of the team, meant that considerable time waswasted. The content persons, that is the movement/dance experts, the instruc-tional designer and the video editor, required many more periods of intensecollaboration at the video editing screens than had been planned for. The differentskills and understandings required in post production meant that a collaborativeteam approach was essential for much longer than had been anticipated.Instructional Design IssuesMore detailed analysis of the data and subsequent experiences with later cohortsof student teachers who used the materials suggest that some of the use of dis-tance education materials varied from the developers' intentions (Schiller andSchiller, 2000). For example, some student teachers attempted to replicatea teaching approach without adapting it to their context. Others focussed on theprinted material with only limited viewing of the video sequences. Greaterattention needs to be paid to providing various different pathways through theteaching and learning resources to accommodate the different learning needs ofthe student teachers. This issue is a complex one and highlights the difficulties ofa change in emphasis in teaching and learning, particularly a change in whichintegration of media is combined in a distance education approach. Questionssuch as how to more appropriately prepare students for using such new material,how to integrate these new materials into their developing understanding ofa complex field of study, and how to change assessment strategies to moreadequately take these new approaches into account, are challenges in setting up anew learning context but must be addressed if the quality of student learning is tobe improved through use of technology (Laurillard, 1993:221).Unanticipated Costs of Post ProductionProblems of increased costs for video post production due to changed institutionpolicy on cost recovery, resulted in higher than budgeted for costs for videoediting. Further, insufficient editing time and travel costs had been included in theoriginal budget. In addition, updated computer software packages had to bepurchased to facilitate compatibility in the transfer and editing of the printedlearning packages between the two universities. Finally, project costs such as hireof recording studio, contractual conditions for original music, purchase of pro-fessional quality master video and audio tapes, and additional video camera hire,had been underestimated.Downloaded by [University of Lethbridge] at 00:23 04 October 2014 TECHNOLOGICAL CHOICES AND CHALLENGES 9Collaborative EffortsThis project depended on effective team work and sustained collaboration be-tween two universities in the design and development of multimedia resources.Shared project leadership was a strong factor in the success of this project butcompeting demands on the time of some of the technical production staff,combined with their unwillingness to remain committed to the project over aconsiderable period of time, reduced the effectiveness of the intended outcomesfrom this project. This human dimension of a production project requires carefulattention. All members of a production team need to understand the nature oftheir particular role in the project and must be committed to achieving intendedoutcomes. This requires extensive input from the team leaders to develop mutualunderstanding of the project's demands through discussion and experimentation,particularly in the post production phase.CONCLUSIONThis project had major benefits for students in that it resulted in improved qualityand productivity of learning while simultaneously improving access to learningand improving students' attitudes to learning, as demonstrated through studentassignments and project evaluation. Further, the project had considerable benefitsfor staff in that it demonstrated that accessible and inexpensive informationtechnologies could be utilised in an integrated way to illustrate challenging andunfamiliar ideas in movement/dance composition; to an audience apprehensiveabout the classroom application of dance and movement with young children(Schiller and Schiller, 2000).Alexander and McKenzie (1998), in evaluating 104 Australian informationtechnology projects funded by CAUT during 1994 and 1995 found that the mostcritical factor in the success of a project was the attention paid to the design of thestudent learning experiences. This was the key factor in the success of thisproject. Other factors contributing to the success of this project, as identified byAlexander and McKenzie (1998) were that the project addressed a specific stu-dent need; the learning strategy had been carefully thought through; integrationwith existing learning experiences occurred; assessment of student learning wasmodified; the intended outcomes were realistic in the context of the time andbudget, skilled project management was available; a team approach to design andproduction, involving expertise from two universities was used; and students hadaccess to the technology for implementing the project. However, some of thefactors contributing to unsuccessful learning outcomes from information tech-Downloaded by [University of Lethbridge] at 00:23 04 October 2014 10 J. SCHILLERnology projects (Alexander and McKenzie, ibid) were also identified in thisproject. Factors limiting success included: staff on the project team who wereunable to sustain involvement in the project for a variety of reasons; some aspectsof the project were overly ambitious in terms of desired outcomes for the budgetand time available; and access to technical advice, expertise and support was notalways available at the times required.On balance, this project demonstrated that appropriate teaching and learningresources can be successfully designed and produced to enhance learning op-portunities of early childhood and primary student teachers as they developapproaches to using movement and dance composition with young children.Complex production skills are not essential but the integration of appropriateinstructional design, with a focus on the learning needs of student teachers incontexts where interactivity is emphasised, combined with a collaborative, teamapproach involving instructional designers, content specialists and capabletechnical staff, supported by effective project management, can produce resourceswhich suit the learning needs of student teachers working at a distance.ReferencesAlexander, S. and McKenzie, J. (1998). An Evaluation of Information Technology Projects forUniversity' Learning. Australian Government Printing Service: Canberra.Cohen, D. and Schiller, W. (1988). Curriculum in Early Childhood Centres. Curriculum Perspectives,8(1), 31-38.Dyer, S. and Schiller, W. (1996). Not wilting flowers again! Problem finding and problem solving inmovement and performance. In W. Schiller (Ed). Issues in Expressive Arts Curriculum for EarlyChildhood. Gordon and Breach: Amsterdam.Lambert, E. and Clyde, M. (2000). Rethinking Early Childhood Theory and Practice. Social SciencePress: Katoomba.Laurillard, D. (1993). Rethinking University Teaching: A Framework for the Effective Use ofEducational Technology. Routledge: London.Meier, J., Hanson, M. and Olson, L. (1991). Physical education and health education in earlychildhood. In D. Elkind (Ed). Perspectives in Early Childhood Education: Growing with YoungChildren Toward the Twenty First Century. National Association for the Education of YoungChildren: Washington, DC.NSW Board of Studies (1999). K-6 Creative Arts Syllabus. NSW Government Printing Service:Sydney.Rowntree, D. (1990). Teaching Through Self-instruction: How to Develop Open Learning Materials(Revised Ed.). Kogan Page: London.Schiller, W. and Schiller, J. (2000). Thinking with the body: Dancing ideas. In W. Schiller (Ed).Thinking Through the Arts. Harwood Academic Publishers: London.Schiller, W. (1992). Patterns of adult/child interaction in a preschool gross motor program.Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Macquarie University, Australia.Stinson, S. (1988). Dance for Young Children Finding the Magic in Movement. American Alliancefor Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance: Reston, VA.Downloaded by [University of Lethbridge] at 00:23 04 October 2014


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