Design Project Rationale

This design project is an online platform to hold instructional multimedia resources of video, sound and worksheets. The online platform is used as a resource bank to encompass the following two pedagogies:

  1. For the student to take charge of their own learning through self-motivation using the ‘learning to learn’ model.
  2. For the student to participate more in their own learning through the ‘flipped classroom’ approach.

The project has been created for a year nine music composition scheme of work on ‘Theme and Variations’ to provoke creativity, promote independent learning, challenge all students and embed composition skills to develop musicians who will be potentially taking music as an option at GCSE. The online platform will allow pupils to work at their own pace by providing differentiated tasks and demonstration videos. The reason for the instruction videos is for the pupils to work at their own pace rather than the fast-paced instruction from a teacher (Strayer, 2012). Making the instruction videos essential to the underpinning values of the design project.

The driver for the project is to address students who take music at GCSE and need constant one-to-one help with their composition coursework that is completed in controlled assessment time. This need for one-to-one help on a class of twelve is a strain on lesson time and creates barriers to their progress, as each student is not getting sufficient teacher input in order to achieve the best possible outcomes. This also creates additional work outside of the lesson, not only for the teacher but also for the student. Weekly catch-up sessions and one-to-ones for students to complete their coursework are imperative as they are unable to work independently in the lesson. If the ‘learning to learn’ and ‘flipped classroom’ approaches are implemented at key stage three, this could embed the independent learning skills they need for their controlled coursework at GCSE.

The project is to be delivered over six one-hour music lessons to year nine pupils who will be potentially taking music as a GCSE option. They will be working in pairs and will each have a computer with the Internet in the classroom to access padlet for their online resource bank. The pupils will be given freedom as a learner, which Sharples et al. (2014) suggests that the quality of self-determination creates a more effective learner. Collis and Moonen (2002) emphasise that flexible learning is not just distance learning and support that the flipped classroom approach can be carried out inside the classroom.

The pupils first explore the concept of ‘Theme and Variations’, carrying out performance tasks and researching composers. The pupils then move onto the composition stimulus and are given a number of example outcomes to work off to create their own theme and variations. To challenge the high starters there are notation tasks to support theoretical practice and developing ideas into a piece of music, a skill required at GCSE.

Collis and Moonen (2002) hold the position that the contributing student has input into the resources available on a web-based program that other students can use and amend. This project is taking the principles of flexible learning using a web-based program, however it will not be developed enough to include pupil input. At this point of implementation the students will be merely familiarising themselves with the software and the concept of learning to learn.

Concerning pupils being willing and able to learn in the classroom setting, there is a drawback to the ‘learning to learn’ approach that Sharp et al. (2014, p. 20) present. Mindful learners are ‘…all based on the assumption that learners want to determine their own learning and are able to do this.’ (Sharp et al., 2014, p. 20). For this reason, pupils must first be ‘self-determined learners’ before they can develop into a mindful learner, skills that need to be embedded at key stage three or earlier. The project is designed for pupils at a school with considerably higher than average pupil premium. The importance of embedding ‘self-determined’ learning is particularly important to these pupils as a high proportion of them have low aspirations and low-self esteem, thus making them ‘give up’ sooner than those pupils who are not pupil premium. Though, some non-pupil premium can also suffer from these issues.  As the target audience for this design is students at key stage three in compulsory full-time education, it can be presumed that they are able, even if they are not willing to determine their own learning. However, they will be exposed to teaching and technology to engage them into learning.

To enhance the student’s self determination evidenced in their approach to learning, they will be getting a blended learning experience in an inverted classroom. Strayer (2012) argues the need for technology to enhance learning through the inverted classroom and blended learning. The theory of blended learning promotes the mix of face-to-face teaching and online tuition, which follows my design of using padlet in the classroom.

With regards to the limitations of the design, ensuring effective progress is being made and keeping track of progress through assessment will prove more challenging than the old teacher-led approach where all pupils are expected to work at similar rates. Expected progress of the pupils needs to be made clear to them before starting the project, so that, the less-determined pupils will not be able to coast by. Furthermore, self and peer evaluation activities and formative assessments need to take place to ensure all pupils are making expected progress. Certainly allowing pupils to work at their own rate is a positive, however, knowing the individual pupils pace and keeping them on track is imperative for this design to be successful.

The ability to learn how to learn will be taught through this project, in the way that they will be able to access online resources and use them to a purpose. These skills will benefit them in life, in education and in the work place. Given the technology and the acquisition of skills, it remains with the teacher to inspire the willingness to learn. Willingness is a quality that can only come from inspiration or self-determination.

In conclusion, teacher one-to-one input is spread too thinly for wide ability levels in the classroom, particularly in a music classroom where the pupils are setted on their ability in English rather than performing arts. By using technology it gives the student both the ability to move faster or to continually replay teaching points until the low-level starters acquire the skill required. Technology gives time to the teacher to inspire those students who are unwilling to learn.

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Collis, B., & Moonen, J. (2001). Flexible learning in a digital world: Experiences and expectations. London: Kogan Page.

Collis, B., & Moonen, J. (2002). The Contributing Student, Computers in the Schools.  The Contributing Student: A Pedagogy for Flexible Learning, 19(3-4), 207-   220, DOI: 10.1300/J025v19v03_16

Sharples, M., Adams, A., Ferguson, R., Gaved, M., McAndrew, P., Rienties, B.,   Weller, M., & Whitelock, D. (2014). Innovating Pedagogy 2014: Open     University Innovation Report 3. Milton Keynes: The Open University.

Strayer, J. F. (2012). How learning in an inverted classroom influences cooperation, innovation and task orientation. Learning Environments Research, 15(2), 171–193. doi:10.1007/s10984-012-9108-4