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Posts Tagged ‘music

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I do not like how background music in stores has returned as COVID rules are eased (see point 5 here).

Food and beverage (F&B) establishments in Singapore could not play recorded background music as one COVID safe management measure. This is probably because people talk over such music in order to be heard. The more people there are, the louder they have to talk and this means they spew more aerosols. Not safe.

The background music also means that people collectively create a din because we do not seem to remember how to talk in hushed tones. Folks elsewhere might call this “using your inside voice”. Judging from how loudly people talk on the train and cafes, we seem to think that we are behind a jet engine all the time.

I wish that F&B establishments would stop playing background music even as we learn to live with COVID. Some blast this music and patrons talk even louder as a result. When I am alone, I can wear noise-reducing earphones. But when I am with others, social niceties mean I suffer in noisy silence.

For me, this is a reminder that we should not blindly (or deafly) return to normal. I found eating in small groups in relatively quiet F&B establishments to be an improvement in quality of life. Why backslide to a noisy normal?

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It was from the video report above that I learnt that some police in the USA blast music from their phones if they do not want public recordings of their actions to go viral. 

How does this work? Algorithms of online platforms detect the music and automatically take the videos down for copyright infringement. This means that possible misbehaviours by police remain hidden. The police that use this strategy have effectively weaponised music. 

My takeaway is not about social or legal justice in the USA. For me, this is an example of a negotiated affordance of a technology. The music was designed to entertain, but it has been fashioned as a defensive weapon. 

Likewise in edtech, there are tools that were not designed specifically for education but were co-opted. Examples include Microsoft Office (for office productivity, duh) and Zoom (for remote work meetings). 

It is important to understand the difference between designed and negotiated affordances.  Using a tool as it was meant to be used is normally better than using it as unintended for another purpose or context. 

For example, keeping corporate secrets while documenting processes and products might explain why the Office suite was initially installed on each worker’s computer and collaboration was difficult. 

Elsewhere, however, more open collaboration was critical, and so sharing, co-creating, critiquing, and editing were desired by design. Cloud-based tools like Google Docs were designed with those features first instead of afterthoughts. 

You can use a single MS spreadsheet to co-plan an cross-border budget and you can use a Google document to share sensitive information between people. You can do that because the negotiated uses of the tools have become design afterthoughts. But you might not be using the tools optimally. 

Zoom is still a tool for corporate meetings. Despite its rise to prominence in the COVID age and the changes it has undergone, it is still not designed for schooling and education. It is designed more for transmission than for cooperation and collaboration. It is for the boardroom, not the classroom, but we have co-opted it and negotiated its use by limited our pedagogy.

Some tools are more secure and transmissive while others are more open and collaborative. Being able to to evaluate their affordances helps you determine what a tool is designed for and what you can negotiate its use for. 

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What better way to say goodbye to human trash than in song? And these toxic beings, their behaviours, and what they stand for are not to be recycled.

Today I draw inspiration from how some Italians are dealing with an extreme form of social distancing — self-isolation in a bid to flatten the curve.

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The reminder? Science will eventually heal the body. But music already heals the soul.

The video below explains the differences between modern music videos and educational ones. In doing so, it works less as a how-to and more as a warning not to blindly ape popular methods.

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Fortunately, those of us who live and work in the realms of schooling and education do not have the time or inclination to make educational videos more like music videos.

Unfortunately, this has not stopped leaders and administrators from adopting concepts and practices from other fields, e.g., return on investment, best practices, being like Uber or AirBnB or Amazon of education.

I am all for learning about how others operate. I am not for trying to transfer or apply those ideas devoid of history or context.

It is post-Christmas, so how sick are you of this now classic song?

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Perhaps James Corden and his carpool karaoke gang will turn a bah-humbug moment into a smile.

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People with keen and critical ears have probably been deconstructing music since the first note was played. So this deconstruction and analysis of Mariah Carey’s now iconic All I Want for Christmas should be ordinarily wonderful.

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Reduced to a core, deconstruction is essentially pattern spotting and analysis. When applied to something as complex as music, the patterns of what makes a Christmas song catchy and successful might be identified and replicated.

So why do we not do this with pedagogy?

Make no mistake: I am not suggesting so-called “best practices” of teaching because contexts are different. But surely some practices are better than others.

Music can be analysed, critiqued, and modelled because it is shared openly and discussed widely. Practically anyone can appreciate music and could develop some form of expertise in it.

Pedagogy, on the other hand, is more mysterious and poorly understood. The science and art of teaching practices tend to be closed-off affairs. Teachers, instructors, lecturers, and professors do not generally welcome their peers to their classrooms unless it is appraisal time. Appraisals are to judge and value, not to deconstruct, reconstruct, and learn from.

With the exception of some places, most teachers do not need to renew their licenses to teach. As a result, there is little impetus to be challenged, to stay up-to-date, and to change.

We know what we have to change, but we resist because tradition, ego, policies, and whatever we can throw in the way gets in the way.

If I bothered to search my blog archive, I could find out exactly how many times I have featured OK Go for my occasional series on process and product.

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This product was OK Go’s latest music video. It was a little over four seconds slowed down to play over four minutes and featured coloured salt.

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Like most behind-the-scenes insights, the next nitty-gritty video is not going to get as many views as the polished music video.

The almost needless reminder is how often people value the product over the process. If they want to be entertained, they have every right to focus on the product. But if they want to learn or gain an appreciation of the hard work, they need to get insights into the process.

In schooling, the principle that transfers is grades, scores, or certificates as products, and feedback, reflection, and revision as processes. The products are obvious, but the processes are not.

However, the processes in schooling and education are arguably more important than the products. A child can be drilled and pushed into getting As for tests or s/he can learn how be resilient, reflective, and independent.

The first set of methods tends to be formulaic, driven by shortcuts, and relatively easy. The second set, driven by character, attitudes, and values, takes time and is difficult. The first sets a child up for the test of school; the second for the test of life.

Which would you rather have? Decide. OK, go.

In July I updated my iPhone to iOS 8.4. When iOS updates, so does iTunes to keep pace. Like most updates, these brought new features and fixes, but they also broke what did not need fixing.

I did nothing to my podcast subscriptions on my devices. However, the updates caused one particular subscription to be blocked. I tried in vain to remedy what was not previously a problem.

Thanks to the collective problem-solving in online forums, I discovered that a new setting was the culprit. This is what to do to reach it.

  1. Activate the Settings application.
  2. Go to the General category.
  3. Go to Restrictions, and enter your passcode to access the menu. Note: You may have set different passcodes for your iPhone and for Restrictions.
  4. If not enabled, select Enable Restrictions.
  5. Scroll down to the Allowed Content subsection.
  6. Go to Music, Podcasts & iTunes U and turn Explicit on.

Before I had this solution, I moved to SoundCloud for the same podcast. SoundCloud does not have the same restrictions setting, but it does not seem to remember where I stop playback and to resume playing from that point.

SoundCloud also does not remember this between devices so that I can switch seamlessly between a Macbook Air and iPhone, for example.

Addendum: Apple pushed a minor update, iOS 8.4.1, today. The setting remained intact on my iPad, but reverted to off on my iPhone.

As I examine most things through an educational lens, this incident reminded me of the:

  1. power of collective problem-solving as enabled by the Internet;
  2. importance of providing resources on open platforms; and
  3. need to provide the same resource on different platforms should a platform change policy or not be available to some learners.

This is my long-running series on products and processes. WordPress tells me that this is at least the eighth in the series.

First I feature a product like this LEGO-inspired music video.

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Then I marvel at the process that its maker reveals in a behind-the-scenes video.

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The four-minute music video required over unique 5000 frames.

The product is for consumption and might create admiration and a following for both the band and the stop-motion animator. The process creates insight, inspiration, and opportunities for learning.

But if view counts are any indication, people prefer the finished product over the messy processes. This has been true of all the videos I have featured so far.

Schools also tend to value products and do not focus enough on processes of learning. But it is the latter where the most meaningful and powerful learning happens.

Product: A complex music video to launch BBC Music.

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Process: An all too short behind-the-scenes look at the process of creating the video.

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We tend to admire and focus on the product, be it successful or not. But the process is just as fascinating and important.


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