What do the Beastie Boys and Danger Mouse have in common? Besides having interesting names, they’re a part of a music movement that engages in remixing music that Eric Jacobson says, “is about exploring new philosophies of aesthetic . . .” (Knobel & Lankshear, 2010, p. 47). In his chapter titled “Music Remix in the Classroom,” he describes the differences between remixing and mashups and how the genre can be used in the classroom.
I never thought I would see words like “pedagogical, aesthetic and philosophy” mixed up with the “Beastie Boys.” I think my cultural horizons need to be expanded, and Jacobson does just that. He demos a vast array of musical samplings from blues, to gospel, rap, and classical combinations that mesmerized me and also, quite frankly, confused me. (Shhh, isn’t this illegal?) Yes, says Jacobson, but okay for hobbyists not seeking to make a profit, but who produce their art for sheer pleasure and also for political reasons.
What I liked most about this article was listening to all the albums he listed. It was a very effective “hook” that made me sit up and take notice. My new favorite is Play by Moby (favorite song: Rushing). But I have to say that the whole section on how to use Audacity did make me glaze over. . . using Audacity is a “show-not-tell” venture, but I did appreciate the resources he listed and made note of those. The educational application was the most compelling. He pointed out the fact that one in two American teens have used digital technology to create media content and one third of those have uploaded to the internet (Knobel & Lankshear, 2010, p. 41). This alone convinces me that kids are using this media as meaning-making activities and worth weaving into the curriculum.
In chapter three, “DIY Podcasting in Education,” Christopher Shamburg picks up the conversation on culling audio files ethically from copyleft sources to use for podcasting projects. One of the most interesting themes in both these two chapters is described as a “digital divide” or “irrelevant education model.” The author posits that podcasting can be a powerful tool to engage 21st century learning. But if applied in a way that forces students to be spectators instead of creative participators with the media, then it’s just one more archaic method to squelch enthusiasm, thus widening the gap between how kids learn in school and how they interact with digital media at home.
A further observation occurs to me when Shamburg tells us that “digital technologies have given us unprecedented abilities to create media content with which to express ourselves . . . . (tools) which 20 years ago were only available to a handful of media conglomerates—now come preloaded on even the least expensive computers” (Knobel & Lankshear, 2010, p. 70). It seems to be fueling a circular societal response. Because the tools are now available, a new educational mindset is born and an expectations are put in place that students will now need these skills for future careers. And yet, schools are not readily adapting to that mindset and thus blocking out the changing world by not using the tools effectively. Our education system and changing technology don’t seem to be in sync. Will school systems ever be flexible enough to accommodate these rapid changes? Another topic for another blog post.
Moving on, I want to say that I discovered podcasts this year and I love them. As cited in this chapter, they are easy to listen to while being free to focus simultaneously on other things visually. Instead of commenting on all the points Shamburg made about how great podcasting is and that we should all make them, let me just say I agree 99% (I need to ponder copyrights and the phrase “privileged authorship” some more) and I enjoyed all his examples for classroom use. He does lead us through the process of making a podcast for ourselves, so in a participatory spirit I will end this post with a podcast I made recently for an assignment where we had to incorporate the color brown. Of course I had to wrap that theme around cows and travel…enjoy.
Tools used for my podcast: GarageBand, SoundCloud, GB music tracks: Cheerful Mandolin 10 and Calm Wind Synth Layers, Soundboard: cow and wave sound effects
Knobel, M., & Lankshear, C. (2010). DIY media: Creating, sharing and learning with new technologies (Vol. 44). Peter Lang.