This paper contains a copy of the lesson plan for teaching classical music in a higher education setting. Key issues that will be highlighted in the document include the approach chosen to implement the lesson plan, a rationale for the selection of key components of the lesson plan, as well as a reflective report highlighting my experiences working on the project.
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An effective lesson plan is expected to maximize the chances of teachers having a meaningful learning experience with students. The present lesson plan is aimed at achieving the same goal by teaching students about western classical music. The students were taught about this subject area by studying two periods of classical music development – Renaissance and the Middle Ages. Given that the main objective of the lesson plan was to enrich student’s learning experiences, the learning approach combined digital and non-digital techniques. This means that part of the lesson plan was implemented using the digital learning model, while non-digital learning techniques played a supplementary role.
The digital learning approach stems from the e-learning trend, which is synonymous with higher education learning. This is why Razzaque (2020) points out that the higher education sector is one of the earliest adopters of technology-based tools in education. In it, the adoption of the digital learning approach is founded on a strong history of proven success in the adoption of e-learning techniques (Alfelaij, 2016). Furthermore, due to current restrictions on in-person learning brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, the digital learning approach comes as a natural selection for the implementation of the lesson plan. In this framework, the use of non-digital means of implementing the lesson plan complements the implementation of the lesson plan itself. Particularly, it is meant to appeal to the needs of students who could not immediately transition into the digital learning model.
The digital learning approach involved the use of various technology-centered tools of learning, including web-based methods, software development, virtual connectivity platforms, and Webinars (Demir, 2020; Sk, Jana and Khatun, 2021). These tools of communication acted as invaluable resources for the implementation of the overall lesson plan. Particularly, they were useful in conveying important information among groups of students through links that could easily be sent from one email account to another to enable students to access learning resources.
In this regard, the lesson plan was designed to fit the digital learning space by allowing for the automation of education resources into files, which could be easily sent to students via the above-mentioned links and other digital platforms.
Group discussions were also undertaken on the virtual learning platform, with digital media sharing services, such as Skype and Zoom, playing a central role in facilitating collective learning across various educational segments. The digital learning approach is unique to this context of analysis in the present circumstances facing learners where in-person learning has been limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, digital learning has its benefits, including self-paced learning which will allow students to interact with the learning content at their pace (Chernikova et al., 2020; Kummitha et al., 2021). Conversations with their teachers were also facilitated at the convenience of the students, thereby providing them with an opportunity to integrate learning content at their own pace.
The student’s subject, which is music, also plays a critical role in the selection of digital learning as the main learning approach because there are immense digital resources on music and they can be accessed from anywhere. The ubiquitous nature of music also merges with that of technology to create a perfect synergy of implementing the lesson plan, in the sense that both of them are unlimited by traditional barriers to knowledge creation, sharing, and development (Baumgartner and Councill, 2019; Wolfe, 2020; Morrison, 2017; Wotto, 2020). Therefore, the learning approach and the subject matter share a unique relationship because they complement each other.
The overall goal of the lesson plan is to structure learning activities to achieve optimum educational outcomes. The current lesson plan is confined to a one-hour learning session. It contains several opportunities that can be used to convey learning content with specific recommendations for integrating feedback into the original plan to create superior knowledge, as described by Banegas and del Pozo Beamud (2020). Key sections of the lesson plan include a description of the learning objectives, timings for implementing different phases, provisions for group interactions, instructions for activities, and explicit links to materials. The lesson plan was also developed after integrating several pieces of information obtained from a review of historical records. The information is contained in multiple copies of the teacher’s.
The rationale for selecting the digital and non-digital learning approach is described in the form of content description and they should be aligned with the learning setting as well as the subject being taught in the manner described below.
The effectiveness of a lesson plan depends on the context of the application. Differences between various social contexts explain why effectiveness may vary across jurisdictions and contexts, based on how students perceive information (Kihara et al., 2021). This fact is presented by notable scholars in the education sector, such as Paulo Friere, Dewey, and Confucius (Khandekar, 2021). These personalities have opined that there needs to be a sound interface for integrating theory and practice in lesson planning. In their analysis, the social context is defined as the main framework of integration and a basis for teachers to learn about improving the teaching process. The effects of this process on lesson planning can only be seen through reflective learning (Lamb and King, 2021), thereby making it an agent of social transformation.
The development of useful content for designing effective lesson plans is accentuated through the meaningful learning theory, which outlines conditions that knowledge can be acquired, disseminated, and shared. The context of applying the proposed lesson plan follows this model because it is aimed at having a meaningful impact on the student’s learning outcome (Melguizo and Coates, 2017). The decision to choose the digital model for delivering the teaching plan is largely informed by this fact because it is based on the higher learning setting, which portends unique attributes that support the digital-based lesson plan (Arimoto, 2016). This educational environment has an impact on how students receive the learning content. For example, most higher education students are conversant with digital learning technologies, which have been developed through e-learning. This means that they have a common understanding of e-learning, which may enable them to embrace digital learning tools and approaches that will allow them to interact with their instructors more effectively than traditional modes of engagement. At the same time, the lesson planning process may benefit from improved efficiency through the adoption of advanced data analysis techniques that are part of the e-learning profile. The proposed learning model is designed to appeal to the learning context in question.
It is also projected that the implementation of the blended learning approach will help to transition students from a point of no knowledge to a collaborative platform for sharing ideas and knowledge. The materials selected for the lesson plan also fit within the learning context because university students have been using these kinds of resources to complete their online learning courses (Guilherme and de Freitas, 2017). Therefore, students have developed unique experiences in the online learning environment that they could then transfer to absorbing the digital-based knowledge presented in the lesson plan. This link is true for various types of digital learning resources presented in the lesson plan, including simulation, electronic textbooks, and learning objects.
The use of digital learning resources is also appropriate for the age of the learners because most of them are young and experienced with technological tools of learning. Most of these students are aged between 18 and 35 years, which represents unique demography of learners that have had immense experience with the internet and digital learning tools. Furthermore, their social and academic networks are already linked to the virtual platform through online accounts managed by the university and available for students’ use, especially in accessing learning resources.
Explanation and Justification
The activities involved in a lesson plan largely dictate its success because they direct students’ efforts towards the accomplishment of specific objectives. Active learning approaches are expected to be used in the current lesson plan because student engagement is desired in the educational setting. Active learning activities are especially celebrated in the higher education sector because reports show that they could improve performance by up to 6% (Moore, 2018). At the same time, it was observed that students who are in traditional learning settings were 1.5 more likely to fail the course compared to those who engaged in digital learning (Dean and Forray, 2019). Based on these statistics, the lesson plan activities should not only be focused on knowledge creation but also on fostering interactions that would enable students to develop a holistic understanding of their learning processes.
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The use of the dual learning approach involving the use of offline and online techniques of implementing the lesson plan will be useful in developing useful activities for improving students’ learning outcomes. This mixed approach for understanding learning activities includes a mix of both digital and non-digital approaches to learning. The goal of adopting this blended model of education is to enrich the student’s learning experiences, improve their learning outcomes, widen their participation in school activities, and foster inclusion. The multiplicity of these benefits to the learning process makes the adoption of the two learning approaches more effective in changing learning outcomes.
The inclusion of digital learning tools in lesson planning is informed by the fact that every student can take part in educational activities so long as they have a stable internet connection. These digital learning activities are also centrally included in the review because all students can access the platform from wherever they are. Zoom will be the preferred digital learning tool for implementing the lesson plan because it allows for multiple groups of students to be engaged at the same time (Wiyono and Rasyad, 2021). This learning tool is justifiably selected for use because of its high engagement value.
Overall, although digital learning tools have been selected for use in implementing the lesson plan, skeptics are still adamant that these resources, if not used well, cannot make any positive impact on learning (Guilherme and de Freitas, 2017). Others say that digital learning promotes an individualistic learning experience, but this style of learning contradicts the supportive and collaborative nature of education (Wiyono and Rasyad, 2021). However, when digital learning approaches are blended with non-traditional modes, the two techniques counterbalance each other, thereby providing a reliable basis for assessing progress.
Developing this lesson plan broadened my understanding of the multiplicity of factors impacting student learning. Particularly, I found it difficult to balance different responsibilities and tasks that had to be completed within a short time, thereby forcing me to be unavailable and overwhelmed at times. At the time, while developing the lesson plan, I had a lot of faith in my ability to deliver multiple deliverables within a short time, but when it came to the implementation part, I had a difficult time keeping up with the tight schedules. This challenge prompted me to think that it is important to give extra room to accommodate for “unknowns” when designing the lesson plan. Stated differently, I believe that making the lesson plan less rigid would have improved productivity to some degree.
Four key areas of implementation emerged as being of noticeable impact on the overall effectiveness of the lesson plan. They included communication, teacher-student relationships, participation, and skills development. These aspects of learning were related to each other to an extent because they focused on improving the relationship between researchers and learners. As Rao and Meo (2016) point out, this type of union is important in improving the effectiveness of lesson plan implementation. Indeed, the structure of the lesson plan is designed to improve students’ understanding of the learning content. Therefore, the views of authors who mention the centrality of the teacher-student relationship in improving the efficacy of lesson planning are consistent with those that have highlighted its importance in improving learning outcomes (Khan et al., 2019).
Communication is a key part of lesson planning because it helps teachers to convey educational content to students effectively and efficiently. Particularly, the inclusion of feedback loops within the lesson planning process helped to cement the messages conveyed to students because their views were included in the development of subsequent phases of the lesson plan (Hardin et al., 2019). There were at least two instances that I remember where I had to modify certain aspects of the educational content based on the data I received through the feedback process of the lesson plan, as recommended by Yates et al. (2020). Therefore, this attribute of the planning process strengthened the overall lesson plan.
Given that the lesson plan was founded on a digital learning platform, incidences of communication redundancy emerged in several instances where I had to communicate with learners remotely. This attribute of the lesson planning process impacted my effectiveness in communicating with students because there were lapses in message delivery in more cases than I can remember. For example, our Skype and Zoom communications were strained by this problem, thereby forcing some students to log out of the platform due to slow internet connections or any other reason, while others expressed frustration using some of these platforms when they could not communicate as effectively as would be the case in face-to-face communications. I suspect that most of these issues stemmed from variations in internet connectivity speeds in some jurisdictions, while others could be simply caused by low-quality equipment.
The relationship between students and teachers also emerged as a central concept in the development of the lesson plan. Student behavior emerged as a function of this relationship and it is partly explored by notable pedagogy scholars including Paulo Freire who says that student-teacher interactions should be cordial and mutual by helping in nurturing the growth and development of the interests of both parties in the learning setting (Suzina, Tufte and Jiménez-Martínez, 2020; Suzina and Tufte, 2020). In other words, genuine learning occurs when there is trust and commitment among the parties involved (Kavanagh and Danielson, 2020; Chen, 2018). Therefore, central to the development and implementation of the lesson plan is the existence of good relationships between teachers and students.
Skills and knowledge
In the areas of skill development and knowledge acquisition, I learned that learning is a constantly evolving concept defined by one’s quest to improve his or her impact on students and teachers. This concept can be explained through the theory of learning, which is defined by various schools of thought aimed at predicting behaviors in the learning setting, including behavioralism, constructivism, humanism, and experiential learning (Ramsay-Jordan, 2020). The experiential learning approach, defined by David Kolb, was particularly relevant to the development of the current lesson plan because it allowed me to recognize lessons from my failures and use them to better improve future approaches to learning (Vrydagh and Jiménez-Martínez, 2020). While the experiential learning theory was more relevant to my lesson planning experience, Chien (2020) says that the application of different theoretical frameworks in learning is influenced by the type of subject involved. However, based on the findings derived from this review, contextual factors and the types of teachers who will implement the overall plan also play a critical role in defining the future direction of learning outcomes. Overall, these insights were developed through an influx of ideas explained in the mind.
This paper highlights several considerations for the preparation and improvement of a lesson plan due for implementation in the higher education setting. The insights highlighted could be useful in further improving the relationship between students and learners through structural improvements of the overall plan to make communication easier and more seamless. The digital learning approach provides a valuable approach for making this goal a reality.
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