Developing Digital Fluency in Music Technology

Innovations in technology have generated both challenges and opportunities for music educators. Twenty-first century learners have the opportunity to learn, share, edit, and create in a multitude of ways and at a rate faster than ever in history, through seemingly ubiquitous mobile devices. One of the many challenges of teachers of preservice music educators in this era is to keep up with the rate of advancements in technology. With an increasing call for integration of instructional technologies into the classroom, it is vital that instrumental music educators incorporate these tools.

Unfortunately, many preparatory courses in music technology are focused around learning content, rather than teaching critical thinking skills around learning with technology. Further complicating matters is the speed of innovation in technology. Often, preservice music teachers are introduced to a cutting-edge piece of instructional technology (IT), to find it obsolete by the time they enter the classroom. While the IT is constantly changing, the instructional outcomes remain the same, making the technology itself a means to an end. By focusing on the context of IT rather than the content of IT, it allows allow learners to gain the digital fluency needed to transfer to other contexts.


Digital fluency moves beyond simply being literate on how to use technology, but instead how to leverage those skills to create new knowledge that builds on the student’s own knowledge and interests. For example, within the context of music notation software, the goal should not to teach students how to use a program like Dorico, Finale, Sibelius, or any of the open sourced software like note flight. Instead, it is more meaningful to use notation software to transform or create music or educational materials in a way that served their goals as musicians and teachers. Same can be said for learning skills within digital audio. We don’t want students who simply know how to make add instruments and make a loop in a Digital Audio Workstation like GarageBand, but we want them to be able to understand the basics of how to record, mix, transform, and create original materials with it instead. These objectives can be achieved in numerous ways, one of which is through problem-based learning (PBL). 

Project Based Learning

Problem-based learning (PBL) centers around complex scenarios that do not have a single correct answer; this allows students to engage in self-directed learning (SDL) and apply new knowledge to problems, reflecting on what they learned. Authentic context learning (ACL) allows students to meaningfully construct new knowledge in contexts that involve real-world problems and projects that are relevant to their interests. By employing these approaches, the teacher acts as facilitator, rather than the disseminator of knowledge, allowing students to develop:

  • Flexible knowledge and understanding
  • Effective problem-solving skills
  • Self-directed learning skills
  • Effective collaboration skills
  • Intrinsic motivation 
  • (Hmelo-Silver, 2004)

Within the context of a music technology classroom, this approach allows for flexibility to adapt the curriculum to individual students’ strengths, interests, and future goals as an instrumental music educator.


This OER’s purpose is to share projects on how to use music technology within the context of being a music educator. All projects are designed to fit within the categories of recreation, transformation, or creation. Depending on the time and depth of the lesson. Recreation includes remembering, understanding, and applying within Bloom’s taxonomy, while transformation extends through evaluation and creation. Projects are designed to be more flexible as they become more advanced to allow for student’s interests to become a central role in the learning process. These projects are geared primarily towards skills in music notation, music administration, and digital audio as those are the most transferrable to as many areas of music educators’ daily lives. With that being said, user ideas and submissions are more than welcome!

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