Monday, November 28, 2011

The Importance of Music: Department for Education, England Report

By Mark T. Burke

The Importance of Music, A National Plan for Music Education (England, DfE) is now available.

I hope that my fellow music educators in the US will take a bit of time and read the plan.  After a first read, I've documented many take-a-ways, key quotes, action items and a few powerful statistics (the plan is not rich in data, which in my opinion makes it a better read, but makes it feel a bit blue sky at times).

One of the key take-a-ways...Partnership working.  In US terms, this report calls for (actually, demands) the collaborative efforts of the community, LEA's, arts organizations, funding sources, private sector agencies and others to step to the plate and provide music education IN COLLABORATION with public supported schools.  In fact, these collaborative efforts have been given a name, Hubs.  Hubs will be given funds, the majority of the music funding allocated over the next several years, to create programs that compliment existing public schools as well as fill gaps.  To earn and keep that funding, the hubs and the schools must govern each other, hold each other accountable for their role and "play nice."  The standards they will adhere to will be spelled out and the programs will be mandated for all kids up through their 18th birthday. has been made a priority.  The responsibility will fall to the schools and the communities, all through a collective, partnership.

Great music education is a partnership between classroom teachers, specialist teachers, professional performers and a host of other organizations, including those from the arts, charity and voluntary sectors.

What I often see are music programs struggling through several layers of isolation.  One, the music program at the school is isolated from the overall educational program at the district level.  Two, the teachers are isolated from the administration and three, the teachers are isolated from themselves (music teacher to music teacher).  The worst isolation of all, music teachers who isolate themselves and their programs from local vendors and/or external music education providers by placing those services into categories of inferiority.  We've learned through our needs to protect ourselves and our programs to be defensive, so no shame in acting as we've been taught is necessary.  But, in the US, we can now learn from plans such as the Importance of Music, that at some point, either we can decide to break free or someone else will tell us to.  In the case of England, they are telling the music education will now play by different rules, our rules and the rules of exemplar, community based programs.

All schools should provide high quality music education as part of a broad and balanced curriculum. Schools will want to review how they do this in light of this National Plan and following proposals from the National Curriculum review early in 2012. Schools, however, will be expected to provide high quality music education.

A plan such as this will be polarizing.  As I read the plan, I was really eager to learn how participation would be balanced.  Is external participation in music activities a threat to school based participation? I have never felt it was, and this plan addresses that, albeit a bit forcefully.

Pupils engaging with these activities would be expected to support their school ensembles and be an inspirational role model for younger pupils.

The plan is full of references to music careers and how music influences the lives of participants.  The question for us in the US is, "are we preparing kids for a host of musical careers?"  Providing services through hubs will offer a greater variety of experiences, which help ensure kids aren't just funneled into narrow career possibilities.  I don't say that to degrade our current system.  It is really impossible for a music teacher to be everything to everyone.  However, in the US, my personal experience as a teacher had me witness the negative consequences of letting my parents and administrators know that.  I believe many teachers experience the whiplash of suggesting students take private lessons.  In the US, teachers are supposed to offer all there is to kids, at advanced levels.  Not possible from my view.  I believe this report's recognition of that struggle and the negative work environment it creates and is a step in the right direction for positive change. 

The report has more to offer.  I look forward to continue this conversation. What are your thoughts?  What are your key take-a-ways? 

PDF of the Plan:  The Importance of Music


The Perspective of "After Work" Musicians and Teachers

By Mark T. Burke

Take a look at this graphic.

Let's consider "Perspective."  What could this graphic mean for the Custom Builder on the right?  How is his life and career influenced by the Music Teacher on the left?  From his perspective, what is the value of his musical abilities? 

From the perspective of the Music Teacher.  Same questions? 

Now, let's consider things from the perspective of the customers of the Music Teacher and the students of the Custom Builder.  What do the opportunities offered by both the side business of the Music Teacher and Customer Builder offer them? 

When we consider "perspective" we can learn a ton about how how music and music education fits into our lives.  But, the answers will vary.  That's where we all come in.  How would you answer the questions above?  What's your perspective?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Super 6/8

By Mark T. Burke

Every so often, we all experience true inspiration.  Yesterday, my wife and I settled in to watch Super 8, the movie by J.J. Abrahms and produced by Steven Spielberg.  I expected the movie to be good, but it was just so, so much more. As the story of a group of teens, who stumble into the middle of a galactic cover up while filming their own short film rolled out, I found myself saying, "Oh...that was BRILLIANT, I love that shot, look at the lighting" and smiling to myself, even during the sad times. The film within the film, the one the kids were making, demonstrates just how powerful creativity and collaboration are.  That's why I kept smiling.  That's why I am writing this post.

Without giving too much away, Super 8 revolves around five teens, led by their pal and director, on a quest to make and submit a film to the Cleveland Short Film Festival. And, as we adults know, when kids ban together, it can only mean they're plotting evil, destined to destroy themselves by doing whatever it is they're doing. In fact, this was my first take away from the film.  The adults in the film react as we adults are trained.  Film making, as a group, was considered by one of the boys father as trivial.  "Playing with makeup and monsters" is a waste of time.  Doing something constructive and meaningful, like going to baseball camp would be more beneficial for a teenage boy...right?   Teen-based, creative collaboration scares us as adults. 

But, why should we be scared of kids who want to create? The teens in the film portray many great characteristics. How can we apply them to great musical experiences?  We'll, read on and then, you'll have to decide.

When faced with technology failures, the kids quickly came up with a backup plan.  After the camera they had been using was broken, they simply found another and continued.  Was the format the same? Was the lens the same?  Would it film at the same quality?  Those are only questions us all-knowing adults would be concerned with.  The kids just moved on...not worrying about the technical aspects.  Their goals was to capture their thoughts on film, regardless of the technical format.  What a great lesson. Technology is an enabler, not an end product.

Each kid had a specialty, and, more importantly, was recognized, praised and VALUED for it.  The kids in the movie clearly recognized their own skills and the skills of the others, balanced against their end goal.  They needed experts in certain fields, but expected everyone to have a general knowledge of the entire effort.  Having focused talents with a narrow vision was not acceptable.  Fantastic. 

In the special features, J.J. offered one of the most memorable bits of reflection on the making of the movie.  "Every so often, you have to forget the pragmatic, react to the situation, go with it, be creative, be adaptive."  Ok, that isn't a direct quote, but close.  The special features highlighted just how creative the team needed to be during the making of this film.  We know film making involves planning and execution.  But, what J.J. has done with this film is bring his own experience making Super 8 films as a kid to the big screen.  More often than not, each scene is created on the fly.  Another fantastic lesson on the creative process.  Non-random trials, fine tuning, adapting, are all skills needed to produce a powerful end product.  Kids seem to get that.  They're closer to the art of PLAY than we adults are.  If left to unfold, the end results can be amazing.

Get the movie, watch it, absorb it.  I found the story within the story within the story guiding.  I hope you do as well.  How can the movie take-a-ways help us provide great music experiences?  Your contribution and input would be fabulous.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Teachings From the Turkey

By Mark T. Burke

As a kid, I remember Thanksgiving as a time to be with family, laugh, eat, sleep and watch football.  I can't really describe the way Thanksgiving made me feel back then.  Today, those same, almost indescribable feelings come back like clockwork this time of year.  I've often wondered how this is  possible.  Our family Thanksgiving celebrations have changed dramatically since I was a kid.  The place, the people, the meal, the activities.  Pretty much, everything ABOUT how I now celebrate the holiday has changed.  But the warm, tingly feeling is still there. The last few days, I've been reflecting on how things have changed, yet at the core, the emotional connection to this amazing holiday remains.  This morning, the lessons to be learned started to click.  In my work to help music educators and create innovative learning programs, I attempt to learn from all of life's experiences.  Why not Thanksgiving?

This morning, I made a list of all the aspects of life that have caused the way my family celebrates Thanksgiving to evolve.

1.  Family Changes:  Through marriages, the passing of loved ones and the birth of new generations, our family has continually changed.  The loss and addition of each person pushes our way of celebrating in new directions.  Each person we said good-bye to leaves a void.  From year to year, the family unit changes quickly, sad as the loss is, the family adapts.  With each new addition, we make adaptations.  Our ability to quickly adapt some of the most long held, fundamental traditions is spectacular.  Often, with  little conversation or debate, the family simply adapts and moves forward, with a focus on what is important, the celebration, the family itself.

2.  Healthy Lives:  There is no question, dinner around our table today is significantly healthier than in the past.  Our overall family concern for healthy living has changed the ingredients, changed a few main courses, desserts and certainly the portions.  Those changes are rather significant.  But, no-one feels at a loss.  Our life priorities have changed in a way that pushes our adherence to a higher awareness of ourselves and our role in the family unit and enjoyment for life.  Sounds deep for sure, but I know this awareness of our own life has caused change around the table.

3.  Tools of the Trade:  I know my grandparents and parents worked harder than I do now to prepare the Thanksgiving meal.  I'm lucky to have food processors, electric knives, table top roasters, high efficiency, convection ovens, microwaves, extra capacity refrigerators, ice makers, slow cookers and other modern inventions. The meals I enjoyed in the past were prepared over several days with much work and love.  Today, our home has become Thanksgiving central.  We prepare two meals, one for each side of our family.  Modern kitchen marvels allow me to get out of bed Thanksgiving day and start preparing the meal around 7am.  I am done by 12 or 1 and we eat, enjoy the family company, laugh and enjoy the rest of the day.  I do it all over again a few days later.  Yes, the tools of the trade have changed, and to the family's benefit.

4.  Conflicts of Life:  Our family is active, engaged in a ton of activities.  Between us all, we have such a wide variety of interests and commitments I couldn't possibly write about them all.  Over the years, college schedules, school activities, sports, work, other family events, and travel have all created road bumps in our plans to bring everyone together at Thanksgiving.  Again, the faces at the table may change now and then, but life is a balancing act on a tight rope at times, not always a walk on the beach with predictable tides.

5.  Channel Changes:  While my childhood memory involves mostly eating, sleeping and watching football, today's family gatherings have become more active.  I cherish my childhood memories of the easy going after dinner conversation, cheering for the Steelers and nodding off, filled to the brim with great food.  Lately, we've taken to sharing our time more collaboratively.  We strive to create a fun activity for everyone to participate in after dinner.  For sure, the interactivity is significantly higher and I believe, we've all come to expect it.  We want to ensure our time together, limited as it is, is of high value.

While change has occurred and is welcomed, the feeling of Thanksgiving still rushes back to my sole each year.  The smell of the turkey cooking, the secret stuffing ingredient, the traditions where important, are still strong.  What we as music educators and innovators take from this story is really my point.

1.  Students come and go.  Each one pushes us to adapt and adapt we must.  If we have not changed a thing in our offering due to the students, we are teaching for ourselves and that is not our job.  We must not debate our need to teach for our students, we must not procrastinate change, we must adapt quickly and move toward meeting their needs with conviction.

2.  Larger concerns in live will cause a need to change smaller things in the way we teach.  Kids can only grow to be healthy adults in they can experience must for LIFE.  Teaching music as if it is a fun school time activity misses the point of what we are supposed to be doing for our students. We must teach students to be musicians for life, for their own recreation.  Teaching ensembles is great, but how many will play in bands, orchestras or sing in choirs after school?  Larger issues...yes, they should drive our curriculum decisions and we should be adaptive.

3.  Technology makes our jobs more POSSIBLE not EASIER.  We should embrace music and educational technology so that we can get past the operational restrictions of our jobs and enable ourselves to spend more time doing what is important, what works. 

4.  Life for students is filled with conflicts.  It is the responsibility of the school and teachers to create as much balance as possible.  We must also create flexibility when possible and develop programs where we don't have to insist on participation.  Participation should be a desire that no attendance rule could possibly make stronger.  But, life will intervene once in awhile.

5.  While concerts have been the main activity for music programs for generations, we must change the channel.  We must create activities that meet the desires of modern students.  We don't do so for the sake of change alone. As a race, we have become increasing social, we expect more engagement, more interaction. Programs that recognize and provide for this human desire, will excel.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  If you've learned something from this post or simply wish to share your story, post your comment.



Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Stretch Goals can Become Strains In Music

By Mark T. Burke

We all understand the value of "S-T-R-E-T-C-H Goals."  Stretch goals are goals that at the time we set them seem somewhat, but not totally, unreachable. If we reach a stretch goal, we've most likely reached a new level of performance, a level that may have significant consequences in our lives.  Positive consequences come from the benefits of obtaining a new level of proficiency such as more enjoyment of what we do or more and new opportunities. Negative consequences of reaching stretch goals can come from giving up time working on other things and the associated lessening of skills as well as passing up opportunities outside those relating to a stretch goal. Where the REALLY painful consequences come into play are working and working to reach a stretch goal that is NEVER (or can never be) met. Unreachable S-T-R-E-T-C-H Goals quickly turn into STRAINS...and they hurt.

It's hard to say some goals can NEVER be met.  In reality, a S-T-R-E-T-C-H Goal that can not be met most likely requires a few intermediate goals be met first.  Imagine a hurdler setting a goal to jump a 42 inch hurdle but keeps getting injured because it's too high.  They REALLY want to jump the 42 inch hurdle, so they keep at it thinking that this is a good S-T-R-E-T-C-H Goal.  At this stage in their development, this S-T-R-E-T-C-H Goal is out of reach.  This runner needs to set some intermediate S-T-R-E-T-C-H Goals in order to build on new levels of fitness and athletic ability.  The same should be applied to teaching music.

I was recently asked to serve as a judge for a local band festival.  100+ students came out to play a solo in order to earn a seat in a festival band.  The solo literature comes from the ranks of professional level, performance literature.  Works like the Hummel Trumpet Concerto, the Brahms Sonata for Clarinet and the Jacobi Sonata for Saxophone.  These are all great works for sure.  As a saxophonist, I listened to the saxophone auditions.  For 100% of the students, this piece was certainly a S-T-R-E-T-C-H Goal. For 99.5% of the students, this piece created significant strain.  By setting just a few intermediate goals, I believe that number could have been reduced to 50%.  So, what would those goals be from a student perspective?

  • Ensure my instrument is always in sound working condition.
  • Develop good reed choice and preparation techniques.
  • Ensure my mouthpiece and ligature match the style of music I am attempting to play.
  • Ensure my reed is assembled correctly on my mouthpiece at all times. 
  • Ensure I know when to wet my reeds and that I recognize the poor quality of sound created when it isn't.
  • Ensure I can play a chromatic scale within the range of the music I am attempting to play.
  • Ensure I can play, and sound good, on a whole note of any note within the music I am attempting to play.
  • Ensure I can play a crescendo and decrescendo on a whole note within the music I am attempting to play and sound good.
If students in the audition group had met those intermediate goals, only 50% of the students would have found the S-T-R-E-T-C-H Goal to play the piece a strain. As you read these intermediary goals, do they sound out of reach for high school students?

Reducing that 50% would require additional intermediary goals.  Goals around articulation, proper chromatic fingerings, and increased familiarity with the music will reduce that 50% to 30%.  As we help students prepare for festivals, it is up to us, the teachers, to create a plan to reach the S-T-R-E-T-C-H Goals.  Festivals are always going to be S-T-R-E-T-C-H Goals in my opinion.  How we help kids reach those goals however is where we must shine as professionals.

There is an element that I can not avoid however.  Working toward the goal is up to the student.  But, the cycle has to shift somewhere.  At this point, I can see clear indications that festival performance levels have dropped.  Until students who strain on festival stretch goals drops below 50%, the music is simply too hard and causes strain on our music education systems.  I fear we are inflicting serious harm, just like the runner above.  If the runner keeps failing at 42 inches, they will continue to injure themselves and ultimately, never reach their S-T-R-E-T-C-H Goal.

Please share your experiences with festivals.  How do you help kids reach S-T-R-E-T-C-H Goals?  Are S-T-R-E-T-C-H Goals good or bad?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Movement on the Field, 10 Bonus Points...First Song!

By Mark T. Burke

Imagine, a towel is thrown, a whistle blows and a referee walks onto the field.  He clicks on his microphone and announces, "Movement on the field, 10 bonus points, first song."  The crowd cheers and the band plays on.  The band of course is not in the audience, they are on the field and the official is not a referee, he is a marching band competition judge. Sounds silly, but I was imagining this scene while I was watching a band perform this weekend at a season-ending marching band competition. I wished for a brief moment that one of the key components of creating great music could be recognized, appreciated by the crowd in a new way, a way that immediately pointed out..."This is good...good for the band...this is why you are enjoying their performance."

The band I was watching and listening too was enjoying their own performance so much that their inner musician was coming out.  The mallet percussion section was just so much fun to watch.  They were looking at each other, connecting, smiling, MOVING to the music, sharing the moment among themselves to such a high degree that great music was inevitable.  Their actions weren't written into the drill, performed on cue and unnatural.  They just happened and oh boy, it was fantastic.  Even if I wouldn't have been able hear the music, I would have known when they were playing softly, crescendoing, playing short and lyrically just by watching.  But, this band was a bit unique. Of all the bands that performed, they were the only ones that reached this level of engagement with their musical performance.  That engagement level is what I like to call, musical movement.

What is musical movement?  When the music we perform elicits our instinct to move with it, to engage visually with other performers and share additional non-verbal, non-musical communications, musical movement is occurring.  If we tell two marimba players to make sure they always crescendo a roll together, how can that actually happen?  It could happen if we just point to them and conduct their every action.  But, wouldn't it be better if the two players connected at a much deeper level than just following a guide together? Yes it would....and that is exactly my point.  Somehow, we have to provide the guidance in our ensembles that when we experience the power of musical movement, we not only raise our own connection with the music through multiple senses, but also make incredibly better music.

What keeps musical movement from happening is fear.  Fear that musical movement will somehow be viewed as non-essential movement, rule breaking movement, embarrassing movement causes us to "put a lid" on the inner force that can create the very thing we seek.  Please don't get me wrong, I am not advocating a "dancing on the ceiling" approach in all ensembles in all moments.  In fact, we've all experienced the over jittery performer who's movements are out of character for the musical moment.  Musical movement is not random, out of control, tick related, spasmodic movement.  Musical movement is essential, innate, primal movement that adds power to our musical performance.  It is a form of communication in and of itself.  I do believe that very force is what we must foster in our musical training programs, in our own groups, both for personal and professional endeavors.

Hats off the the marching band this weekend that reminded me and the many audience members that music is more than just sound.  Even in the absence of sight, I believe we would have still heard your musical movements.  Never change, continue the quest to communicate your musical story in just the way you did this weekend.  If you don't know if this was your group or not, then it's time to think about how you foster musical movement.

Mark Burke is the founder of viaAcademies, one of the nation's first online music academies.  viaAcademies is a division of viaEdTechnologies, LLC.  viaEdTechnologies helps organizations "Illuminate Educational Horizons" through educational innovation planning, professional development, curriculum development and educational technology development.   

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

High School Band Goes Back to Basics

By Mark T. Burke

I just spent an hour with a high school band and WOW, they provided some great insight into music education by sharing their life as student musicians. 

Background:  My task was to engage a band of about 60 members in a conversation around how to improve musical skills.  The presentation was planned as part of a two year project with their school aimed at improving several key areas of student musicianship through an innovative, hybrid learning environment. The students, all 9-12th graders and members of a very successful band program (with a long legacy), will receive lessons from a beginner lesson book starting today.  Students will learn through a combination of online and in class tools and resources (hybrid learning). The goals are simple, improve their desire to practice, ensure they play at level, improve their rhythmic accuracy, ensure they actually sound like their instrument should sound, increase their motivation and raise overall program retention.   

Today's session was the introductory session.  My goal, get them THINKING differently.  So, we talked, I listened, I provided some insights...Now, I've had a minute to digest a bit.  Through a series of questions, I learned more about how they think.  Here are a few notes.

Question 1
1.  How many of you listen to recorded music?  100% said they did.

We then talked about the recording process.  I asked them to describe how the recording process works.

A few chimed in mentioning the technical aspects of recording music, such as playing into microphones, adding tracks, etc.  One or two mentioned editing to take out mistakes and add "better" tracks and sounds into a final mix.  One mentioned LISTENING and revising, re-recording.  We then talked about LISTENING and decision making.  I asked:

2.  How are those decisions made?  Responses:  Experiences, Education....good!

I then asked;

3.  How many of you make recordings for the purpose of improving your own musical performance?  Responses....2 -3 said they did. 

Very interesting...With some additional conversation, it became clear that students understand the value and benefits of recording, listening and making changes.  But they do not apply that to their own music making.  They understand that the evaluation of a recording has value when provided by experienced, educated person.  Again, you would think they would be knocking down their music teacher's doors to have them listen to recordings, critique them and provide concrete feedback. They are not.

I then introduced them to a new phrase, DILIGENT PRACTICE.  Now, "practice" by itself is not new, they know what that means.  They cringed like I expected them to when I said the word "practice."  When I added "diligent" to the word "practice,", they said...."Oh, man, that makes it even harder."  I then asked them:

4.  What do you think of when you hear the word "diligent?"  Responses....Dedication over a long time, attention to detail, willingness to fix things.  

I then asked them about their own practice routines.

5.  How many of you would agree that you have a practice routine?  Responses....2 or 3 agreed.  

We then talked about attention to detail and the basics of playing an instrument.  I started this conversation by asking:

6.  How many of you could play a whole note that sounded great?  Responses...again, only 2 or 3 responded YES.  

To them, practice is about playing through their ensemble music or audition pieces.  If they "mess up" a section, they play it again.  I then wanted to learn a bit more about the way they break down their own practice.  I asked:

7.  When you "mess up" a section, is everything bad?  Responses...."No, just parts."  Most agreed.

Of course, this shows they can critique themselves, or at least know the right answer to that question.  What they have trouble with is connecting their knowledge with their own musical habits. It is also clear that few have confidence in their basic performance abilities.  Few had confidence that they could play something as fundamental as a whole note well.  CONFIDENCE is certainly a huge factor when we consider motivation and retention.

This session was extremely telling and we have a long way to go.  What excites me is that after the session, some students came in for their regularly scheduled lessons and expressed being excited to get rolling.  I believe what really sold them on the idea of going back to the basics and learning from a beginner band book was telling them how difficult the advanced high school and college age student who performed for the videos within the online course found the challenge of playing beginning instrumental lesson book exercises and music.  The technical level is not high, but playing music at this level forces us to think about the fundamentals.  Imagine, if your students don't feel confident enough in their ability to play a good whole note, how will they feel playing an entire 2-3 pages worth of whole notes?  This project is aimed at demonstrating how important it is (and possible) to provide the tools to build fundamentals.  When asked why the students do many of the things listed above, their answer tells it all. They said, "we don't have the resources."  While we could argue that they do, we can't argue that in many cases, in all our lives, we need tools to help us accomplish even the simplest of tasks.

I'll keep everyone up to date.  And of course, if you are interested in rolling out a hybrid program at your school, drop me an email.   


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

X and Y Graph on Teaching, Thinking, Learing and Instructional Design

By Mark T. Burke

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of spending time with Drs. Derek Cabrera and Laura Colosi  Together, they're on a mission to get kids thinking.  Having visited and worked with countless schools, their message is one with credibility and simplicity....Kids Can't Think.  In fact, Derek teaches as Cornell University and reports that even at that level, students can't think. 

Our job as educators is to help students unlock their thinking abilities through practices that develop habits. Regardless of the subject we teach, we must "teach" kids to THINK.  And, yes, I believe we absolutely must do so in all forms of educational delivery including online learning as well as in the classroom and in hybrid environments.

Derek's presentation included this slide.  Wow, he was right when he said, "You could spend years discussing and dissecting this slide."  

So how do you use this slide?  Think about something you want to teach students that is rather low on the scale of "intangibility.  You can certainly connect that concept with a student's prior knowledge and most likely, students will assimilate the new concept rather quickly.  Now, think of something largely intangible, such as teaching musical expression.  Providing some type of formal or informal immersion activity will be required to get the students to grasp the concept. In the case of BEING a musician, our goal goes beyond grasping the concept by requiring students to actually demonstrate the concept in their own performance. Again, we won't help them if we don't provide instructional experiences that align with the concept. 

There's a great discussion going on now at NAfME's LinkedIn page.  I asked participants to discuss techniques for educating students to be "professional musicians" and "personal musicians."  While there are many great concepts, the problem is getting down to the level of detail on how to actually perform the instruction.  For example, if we want to teach students what it's "like" to be a working musician, we must ensure we deliver instruction that gives us a chance to accomplish the desired goal.  In this case, story telling may be great, but it will fall short of providing sufficient instruction for this topic.  Story telling alone, as demonstrated by this graph, is a tool for rather tangible concepts.  "Being a working musician" is not a tangible concept at all. So, we will need to provide an immersion activity for the students at some level.  An eye opener?  For sure.... 

Derek's graph can show us how we may not be aligning the right teaching strategy with the concept we are attempting to teach.  For this benefit alone, I think this graph is invaluable.  There are other uses.

Another use is to help us determine instructional development time.  If we need to teach an intangible concept, we will need to devote more time to building and managing the instruction (time is demonstrated on the bottom axis).  Schools and companies alike should pay particular attention.  We're trying to teach students how to be musician in pull out lessons once a week, while kids spend every day, at least 1 period a day learning how to add and subtract.  Both are important, but our educational efforts are out of balance with the intangibility of what we are trying to teach.

For companies, especially those developing online learning, looking for a quick guide to development time and effort, pay particular attention. If we want to raise online learning to a status of helping kids learn to think, we have to commit the time and efforts to building instruction that aligns with higher levels of intangibility.  We can't teach kids to become thinkers by investing in online learning that does little more than tell stories.

There's just so much to talk about on this graph.  I hope it helps you as much as it has me.  Of course, Derek and Laura would love to hear from you.  So, please stop by their site and mention you saw the chart here, at my site.  Tell them Mark Burke sent you and that you want to learn more about DSRP.  You won't be disappointed.