Digital Portfolios in Music Education
In this three-part series we’ll look at digital portfolios in music education:
- what they are
- why you and your students will benefit from using them
- which software, tools and resources are required to make a great music digital portfolio
- how to put one together
Part 1 will cover the “what” and “why” and an overview of the “how”, with examples of all the pieces that might make up a digital portfolio.
Then in part 2, we’ll get stuck into the MANY options for creating digital portfolios using software, tools and other resources you probably have access to already.
Lastly, part 3 will show you step-by-step how to put together a digital portfolio, using a specific music project example: All About The Drum Kit.
What is a digital portfolio?
A collection of student work in a digital format – digital artefacts – which demonstrate evidence of learning. Digital portfolios are usually curated by the student themselves and include work in multiple formats including text, hyperlinks, video, images and audio files.
Why go digital?
Digital portfolios are ideal for music. One of the best things about presenting work in a digital format is the opportunity to include rich forms of media, such as video and audio files which make a lot of sense for music students. Digital portfolios are more readily accessible to a wider audience (such as teachers throughout the school, parents and other students), especially if they are available online. It’s also possible to duplicate the work and present it in more than one way, for different purposes, or for multiple types of portfolios.
How can my students create digital portfolios in music class?
To create digital portfolios, two things are needed:
- A collection of digital artefacts
- A central place to collect and publish the artefacts
Step 1: create digital artefacts
Digital artefacts can take the following form:
A video may include recordings of a performance, composition, student analysis, a description of a process, or an original film score.
- A video of a student performing the 12 bar blues
- A video of a student playing of their own original pop song
- A video of a student describing the process of how to set up a PA
- A video of a student verbally describing the structure of a piece of music, while the piece plays
- A video of a student performing rhythmic ear-training exercises
- A movie clip with an original soundtrack composed by the student
- A video game clip with original music composed by the student
- A video recording of a slide show presentation about music in the Romantic period
Audio recordings (mp3 file or WAV file) may include recordings of a performance, a composition, analysis of a musical work, or a description of a process. It’s similar to the video option, but just without the visuals!
- An audio recording of a student performance of the 12 bar blues
- An audio recording of a student performing their own original pop song
- An audio recording of a student verbally describing the process of how to set up a PA
- An audio recording of a student verbally describing the structure of a piece of music
- An audio recording of a student performing rhythmic ear-training exercises
- An mp3 of a mixed-down composition recorded in GarageBand, Mixcraft, Soundation, Logic or Pro Tools
Text-based artefacts can include essays, written responses, definitions, song lyrics, and may also include hyperlinks to further reading or other support material.
- An essay about the history of remixing
- A written listening response to Peter and the Wolf
- Song lyrics for an original pop song
- A chord chart for for the 12 bar blues
- A concert review
- A musical glossary of definitions for musical terms that have been covered during class time
- An inspirational quote
Images go beyond simple photographs. Photos of students “in action” are a useful part of a digital portfolio, but there are many other image types, including screencaptures (screenshots), labelled diagrams, mind maps, flow charts, digital drawings and many more.
- A photograph of the student performing their instrument in a concert
- A diagram of a mixing desk with the parts labelled
- An iPad screencapture image of a student project in Track View in the GarageBand app
- Screencapture image of a student sound effects story in Mixcraft on a laptop
- A digital drawing showing a graphic representation of a melodic contour
- Screencapture image of a score (or part of a score) created in Sibelius, Finale, MuseScore or Noteflight
- A word cloud of music terms created in Tagul or Wordle
- A flow chart representing common chord sequences in popular music
- An image of the cycle of fifths
- Pictures or shapes to represent noteheads in a beginning notation activity for young students
- An inspirational quote from a favourite artist created in Canva or the Word Swag app
- A photo collage of “my favourite music things” created in Pic Collage
Step 2: collect and publish the digital artefacts
Once your students have gathered all the artefacts that demonstrate their learning, they’ll need to present them in a single location, in a coherent way. Once again there are a number of tool options here, but it needs to be something that can handle all (or most) of the digital mediums discussed above: video, audio, text and images.
- A website, blog, wiki or LMS (learning management system)
- Presentation software such as Powerpoint, Keynote or Prezi
- iPad apps such as Explain Everything, Keynote or Book Creator
- Online tools such as Padlet, Thinglink and Voicethread
- Or a combination of the above!
In Part 2 & 3…
In part 2, of Digital Portfolios in Music Education I’ll be discussing specific software and tools for each of the above digital artefacts types – video, audio, images and text. There will be suitable options for all devices and operating systems, whether Mac, Windows, Chromebooks, iPads or Android devices.
Following on in Part 3, I’ll take a music education project example and show you step-by-step how to capture different types of digital artefacts and how to put them together in a portfolio.
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