Distance-Learning Model for Pre-Service Music Teachers

Aim of the research

This research proposal aims to present a unique “distance learning environment” for pre-service music teachers who currently, don’t have time/resources to attend a full-time university course. Indeed, the overwhelming popularity of distance/online learning modules necessitates the usage of innovative methods/technologies which would enhance the learning experience for both instructor and students. Music education, being a field that depends highly on learning environment interactivity.

The rationale of research

During my teaching experience in distant-learning for pre-service music teachers at Cambridge college, I’ve always looked for a useful technological/innovative solution which would not only make my job easier, but also enhance the learning experience of students. This search for innovation has translated into the following methodology validated in present research: “Using Chat interface + Textbooks in a WebEx learning environment”.

Research questions

  1. Does the new methodology provide “hands-on” experience to pre-school music teachers? Yes. Solved using Research designs (1,2,3) in section 2.5
  2. Does the new methodology provide a sense of “community participation” i.e. classroom teaching experience for concerned students? Yes. Solved using Research designs (1,2,3) in section 2.5
  3. Can the impact of this new methodology be gauged in terms of learner response? Can feedback surveys capture the effectiveness of the new methodology? Yes. Solved using Research designs (1,2,3) in section 2.5


As outlined in section 2.5, the design procedure consists of the following research designs which validate research questions as stated above:

  • Research Design 1: Breeze, a variant of WebEx technologies
  • Research Design 2: Discussion forums
  • Research Design 3: Chat interfaces


All research aims have been verified using research design parameters mentioned in Section 2.5. Considering limitations in study, and specific sampling requirements in the field of distance-learning for pre-service music teachers, a dissertation has to be developed. The aims and outcomes of the dissertation have been discussed in Sections 4.3 and Sections 3.1-3.4.

Introduction and Background


In this research proposal, I shall present my ideas and methods towards distance/online courses in education for pre-service music teachers. Due to flexible teaching schedules available in various universities, there is now a growing demand for online courses (in this proposal, unless otherwise stated, the terms “online learning” and “distance learning” would be used interchangeably). This proposal addresses most deficiencies in the present system, and suggests a positive methodology to overcome them.

The music education field is considered a complex entity because of “interactivity” requirements at all levels of learning. The purpose of this proposal is to highlight salient features of a unique methodology “Use of chat interface called WebEx + textbooks” which will be used to understand research requirements for this proposal, and apply them towards a future dissertation.

Rationale for Study

During my study experience at Boston University and subsequent teaching experience for online-learners at Cambridge University, I was facing numerous challenges due to “communication” issues. Music education consists of specialized requirements such “visual-aural interactivity”, things which cannot be fulfilled using traditional distance-learning methods.

The purpose of this project will be to prepare a distance-learning model which can be seamlessly integrated into university curricula to help out distance-learners who don’t have time or resources to attend regular teaching courses. Pre-school music teachers have to undergo a lot of stress in a regular classrooms due to “unexpected circumstances” such as unfamiliarity with course levels. Considering the reach and impact of such courses, the universities will now have an opportunity to earn more recognition and fame. The methodology suggested in this proposal will be extremely user-friendly to trainers and learners alike.

Research questions

The following research questions have been identified in response to specific requirements of online teaching, as per Rationale of study:

  1. Does the new methodology provide “hands-on” experience to pre-school music teachers?
  2. Does the new methodology provide a sense of “community participation” i.e. classroom teaching experience for concerned students?
  3. Can the impact of this new methodology be gauged in terms of learner response? Can feedback surveys capture the effectiveness of the new methodology?

These research questions were designed based on “common-sense” approach of what should constitute an effective and acceptable learning framework for pre-school music teachers of diverse needs. These needs identified were as follows: “classroom experience on the Internet”, “simultaneous reference study using textbooks” and “individual student response needs” (i.e. how effectively the instructor can measure the learning requirements of pre-school music teachers). Indeed, any study that seeks to fulfill their overall learning requirements has to address fundamental parameters on which classroom teaching operates; there is an obvious correlation between the most successful teaching methods that have always been used in a classroom, with modern technological expertise.

Statement of Research Proposal Methodology

To design a successful distance-learning methodology to train pre-school music teachers, research questions identified as above were taken into consideration and the following methodology statement was framed (please note that the methodology has been kept brief and relevant to serve as an easy-to-remember tool for any detailed methodical analysis in the future, especially as part of dissertation).

The best methodology to impart distance-training (online) to pre-school music teachers is: A combination of “chat room interface called WebEx” + “textbooks”.

This research methodology was developed keeping in mind the “real needs” of learners in a virtual classroom environment. Pre-music teachers (according to my own teaching experience) are in pursuit of some sort of “user-friendly” technological experiences which can be transferred from the classroom to a virtual learning environment. This envisages a variety of “hands-on practical skills” which are the central focus of our project research. To fully understand the implications of having a WebEx-based virtual learning environment, I have consulted three independent peer-reviewed studies which explain in detail the outcomes of having a similar interface for various aspects of classroom teaching on the Internet.

The references can be consulted in detail in section 2.5, review of literature. To put the record straight, WebEx refers to a unique internet-based service which allows instructors and learners to interact in a virtual environment through ALL mediums of interaction – phone, voice chat, instant messaging and also, digital pads (for handwriting).

My secondary research closely verifies the validity of Web-Ex based learning environments through three research design samples (1,2,3) which have been elaborated in Section 2.5. Any future dissertation research will essentially involve recreating those experiments with an unbiased sample size of students who’re interested in teaching music. My simple objective would be to verify whether results from design samples mentioned in secondary sources, can be applied to the field of music which is a complex, audio-visual interaction exchange environment. If tests come any closer to what has already been outlined in peer-reviewed journals, the results can be used as an effective recommendation strategy to enable universities to consider projects which will offer distance-learning programs for pre-school music teachers. My dissertation research seeks to guide on how this plan should be implemented, estimated project costs, intended benefits etc.

  • My preparation/progress in this research has been documented in section 3.4.
  • The itinerary/schedule for dissertation plan has been outlined in section 3.3.

Definition of key terms

To fully understand various sections of this proposal, one may have to refer some unavoidable jargon which have been used throughout the research.

  1. WebEx: A virtual interaction environment complete with all features which can recreate a classroom on the Internet. WebEx consists of the following features: voice chat, phones, instant messaging and digital pads (handwriting). WebEx is a tried-and-tested technology which is already being used across the board by organizations, companies and private agencies. For academia, especially an interactive field like music education, WebEx is highly useful.
  2. Learning environment: In the context of this research proposal, it strictly refers to any online, virtual environment in which learners interact with their instructor in cyberspace.
  3. Research Design (1,2,3): Used throughout this proposal, this ubiquitous term refers to qualified experiments derived from peer-reviewed journals which prove the validity of our central research questions regarding the applicability of WebEx-based learning environments.
  4. Breeze – a software similar in functionality to WebEx (highlighted in research design 1, section 2.5). Only difference between WebEx and Breeze is that the latter is only a software whereas WebEx is a complete, learning environment package.
  5. Statistical analysis/social network analysis/content analysis – Variety of research outcomes for research design 2 mentioned in section 2.5.

Literature Review


Any research effort on innovative methodology should have validation from various sources of authority connected with the review. For my methodology as stated in previous chapter, I mainly looked into “secondary” literature sources which have already-established steps and procedures to ensure the subject gets its desired treatment. “Primary” sources (as will be enumerated in Chapter 3) will consist of surveys, focus group study and other direct research forms. The purpose of this literature review is to strengthen arguments in favor of research proposal methodology as mentioned in previous chapter.

Identification of broad literature sources and rationale for categories

Since, my methodology deals with the latest in online teaching methods, the first criteria of selection has to be how latest the sources in question are. Online search using Google, MSN Live and other search engines revealed the following category of literature sources that render strength to this proposal, on account of prior-and-established forms of study.

  1. Peer-reviewed Journals: Many secondary sources selected for background review, as well as study recommendations, have been hand-picked from two peer-reviewed journals like Journal of Interactive Online Learning and Online Journal of Distance Learning. Apart from their easy availability on different website links, they form a quick reference guide to scope and limitations of present research.
  2. Website articles: Since, our research study deals with chat-room interface (WebEx) as an education tool implement, it was easier to consult tons of online research material which deals with methodology suggestions.
  3. Books: Some library books were consulted to consolidate the theoretical framework of this research proposal, and its implications for a future dissertation study.
  4. Wikipedia: Though Wiki is not been identified in citations, it was one of the most important tools to understand the development of contents for this proposal.

An understanding of Search (Boolean operators) parameters

Google, Yahoo and MSN Live were the main search engines employed to identify various contents in my proposal. The choice of keywords as well as search operators (AND and OR) was based on the following research requirements:

  1. Peer-reviewed journals for music education: keywords used were a combination of “journal” and “music education”.
  2. Web articles: Generally, specific search parameters were used; e.g. “WebEx advantages”, “Interactivity learning” etc.

Strength of currently available literature

The purpose of this proposal is to identify different authors (concerning broad literature sources and their categories clarified in section 2.2) who did their valid research to arrive at stated conclusions in our research proposal methodology, and to apply them towards future dissertation in this subject. Also, the validity of secondary literature sources can be extended to cover important portions of our proposal, like the impact to be achieved in design methodology (refer chapter 3) and conclusion/recommendations stage of this proposal.

Here is a brief impression of some of the major secondary sources which have been reviewed to consolidate and summate our present learning, and apply them for future dissertation activity.

  1. Kwang (2008). This peer-reviewed article forms the background of methods and steps identified to achieve present methods as suggested in Section 1.3 and 1.4 Also, the results from this study are used as evidence for validity of further research for a major dissertation in future.
  2. Lowes, Lin and Wang (2007). Side by side with our methodology of using “chat-room interfaces” in imparting online education, this peer-reviewed article discusses the importance of “interactive forums” towards consolidating research aims/objectives as summarized in Sections 1.3 and 1.4.
  3. Park and Bong (2007). This peer-reviewed article evaluates the impact of “synchronous” (class-room learning methodology) to fulfill the research aims/objectives as summarized in Sections 1.3 and 1.4.
  4. Chou and Chen (2008). This peer-reviewed article bolsters the advantages of using my classroom techniques for practical evaluation purposes in our proposal.

Since, the main purpose of identifying different literature sources was to achieve accepted research aims in Sections 1.3 and 1.4, the contribution of minor articles advocating the use of technology mentioned in this proposal (WebEx) only validates any conclusions in this regard, the conclusions which can be applied in future dissertation study. Apart from peer-reviewed articles mentioned above, some minor articles have also been consulted for our study/research.

Review Discussions

Di Pietro, Ferdig, Black and Preston (2008), in their review on the applicability of virtual schools for Michigan school teachers, have proposed several “best practices” for different music teaching programs, as applicable to my proposal and learning methods uncovered in present curriculum requirements for pre-school music teachers. According to them, “research-based investigations” into the teaching and learning medium for pre-school music teachers is, still inadequate and requires further study by concerned sources.

For covering this aspect, the basic skills required for concerned teachers covers the ground in “pedagogy, technology and primary content”. It refers to the fact that virtual training interfaces for teachers, must consist of holistic technological solutions that enhance the classroom teaching experience in the best possible way. To convert classrooms into an online portal, these user-friendly attributes have to be maintained, and supported by various training modules as we discuss them in this proposal.

Since, music lessons require extra audio-visual inputs than usual, any technological method which enhance the overall teaching experience, will qualify for approval in terms of funds-distribution.

Apart from user-friendliness of any such technological input, music lessons also require “consistent” evaluation formats. Since, every step of traditional music learning (instruments, vocals etc.) is dependent on instructor-feedback and constant evaluation, it can be appreciated that online evaluation formats should be at the same level as traditional formats. Of course, there are divergent opinions on how the different formats support and concern teacher’s agenda to maximize the learning potential of students.

According to a systematic research in this field, online evaluation formats have distinct advantages over traditional formats with over 88.4% students preferring it over traditional format, a fact which necessitates their use in training programs. Other convenience features that call for the application of online formats are: “anonymity, saving time, more privacy, more time to think etc”. It further suggests that any calls for extending the benefits of online formats rest with the assumption that they have more appeal among learners because of their “interactivity”.18 To develop an appeal for interactivity, there is an automatic need for technological solutions which provide them.

Research Design 1

Next, it is important to put distant-learners’ perspective on the rendered applications and core functionality of technological inputs which facilitate online education keeping in mind its most important attribute: interactivity. According to Park and Bonk (2007) at Indiana University, web-based applications are classroom tools which promote a lot of “self-explanation, social negotiation and shared knowledge construction among participants”. This means, online “interactive” learning tools have tangible benefits like stoking the flame of curiosity in participants, and promoting their mutual social cohesion patterns, which make for excellent classroom advantages to one and all. Park and Bon (2007), to validate their standing on the long-standing benefits of online teaching methods, cite a survey of 76 online graduate students who were able to “enjoy” their learning environments better than what it would have been possible for them in other settings.

In any traditional/non-traditional learning set-up, the lack of a “sense of community” and feelings of disconnection were readily identified by Park and Bon (2007) as the biggest challenges to systematic learning.21 Obviously, this necessitates a reference on “collaboration” and “shared collaboration techniques” which are identified as crucial to the success of any online teaching methodology.

To fully appreciate the results of their evaluation strategy, Park and Bon carried out a systematic study in synchronous communication delivery system; their main aim being to identify essential “tools” which would help in facilitating communications in the best possible way. The participating students belonged to a 22-sample chosen by Park and Bon (2007) with the help of a synchronous conferencing tool called “Breeze” (the end-functionality of this tool is similar to that of WebEx, the software recommended in this proposal).

An understanding of “sampling” techniques in this experiment will help the reader understand the needs and requirements of “chat-interfacing mediums” and their precise application in online learning.

Park and Bon (2007) carried out several synchronous testing sessions for their intended project; it consisted of various “combinations” in which the software, Breeze was used for achieving desired end-user functionality, before evaluation. E.g. Breeze, in combination with telephone (38 times); Breeze, in combination with Voice chat (4 times); Breeze, in combination with Text chat (5 times); Breeze in combination with telephone + Voice chat (2 times). Thus, the combined analogies of methods helped in development of systematic procedures in Breeze’s applicability across diverse spectrum of learning inputs. Following were the intended aims of Park and Bon’s (2007) synchronous testing sessions for the live interactivity software, Breeze.

  1. Immediate supports and diverse perspectives on use.
  2. Social presence and sense of connectivity.
  3. Structural support from instructors.
  4. Different learning strategies from traditional methods.

Here’s a brief clarification of perceived benefits from diverse group of strategies:

  1. Immediate support meant an end to time-delayed responses that are frequently encountered in distance-learning courses – students were able to achieve prompt feedback for emerging queries.
  2. Social presence meant students were able to establish a self-regulating, independent learning structure over an established framework. This meant plenty of emotional support by peers and instructors, which improved their sense of understanding on complex theories and subject-areas which require audio-visual inputs (NOTE the relevance of this line for our targeted objective – achieving online interactivity for pre-school music teachers).
  3. Finally, structural support from instructors meant better “responsibility” and “feedback” which had a marked improvement on students’ performances.

It is worth imagining if a user-interactive telecommunication tool like “Breeze” could achieve such a noticeable improvement in student’s performances at Indiana University; what would it imply for an even more sophisticated tool called WebEx, which can essentially, be summarized as “Breeze on Steroids” as it contains a lot of additional features which have specific applications in the field of music learning. Before we do that, it’s important to note the usefulness and utility of other features which are supported by WebEx: the discussion forum, and the chatroom.

Research Design 2

Discussion forums, today, have mushroomed all over the world wide web. There are many advantages of this novel communication feature: they achieve user-friendly “recording” of essential notes which can be exchanged, and subsequently, readily referenced by any member of the forum. According to Lowes, Ling and Wang (2007), discussion forums allow a real “community” environment for participating students, not only facilitating the overall learning process, but also, allowing the best possible knowledge to be transmitted across the discussion board.

To test their hypothesis for user-friendliness of discussion forums, Lowes, Ling and Wang (2007) conducted a short (4-week) course for teachers who were undergoing the process of accreditation by renowned school agencies. The course consisted of highly-motivating group projects thriving on interactivity, as a result of which the idea of discussion forums was raised. For convenience, the sessions were divided into 4 parts: Sess 1, Sess 2, Sess 3 and Sess 4. To measure the impact of discussion forums on various outstanding issues raised in the classroom, the following results were obtained.

  1. Statistical analysis of Blackboard data: Since, the forum had a Blackboard area (for expressing free thoughts), the survey established that the board was most likely to be used for online evaluation. It translated into >1000 hits per participating team in each sample session (Sess 1, Sess 2, Sess 3, Sess 4). According to Lowes, Ling and Wang (2007), this represented almost 50% more Blackboard usage compared to classroom face-to-face teachings, and other suitable methods.
  2. Social network analysis: As mentioned in earlier discussions on “Breeze” software, social networking forums are primarily concerned with enhancing social interactions between participants, and facilitating overall learning process. In this example, too, the forums received maximum network development – main result being, a high density of network information exchange.
  3. Content analysis: According to Lowes, Ling and Wang (2007), using discussion forums enhanced the credibility of content developed according to various criteria established before the study: better emotional expression in terms of “reflexes”, “humor” etc.; open communication in terms of “continuing a thread”, “asking questions”. “complimenting”, “encouraging” and “agreement” behavior”; group cohesion in terms of “salutations”, “greetings” etc.

Lowes, Ling and Wang’s (2007) study has established, that given the user-friendly applicability of discussion forums, it is established that they have tremendous impact on daily discussion needs for an online classroom. This is a feature that should be a must on our research proposal main aims.

Research Design 3

Finally, returning to the user-applicability of Yahoo Messenger and other suitable chatroom software – we shall turn our attention to peer-reviewed research which establishes the supremacy of “live CHAT interactivity” for any aspect of online education. According to Wang (2008) of New York Institute of Technology, New York, chat-rooms establish ready, instant connectivity between different users living in disparate locations – the messaging system works instantly, and there is a constant flow of information through chat interfaces. To validate the research design for chat-rooms, Wang (2008) has followed a procedure which measures the different concerned skills in an online, chat-based “learning environment”. 41 The study encompasses the following observations:

  1. First, Wang selected a learning sample of (18 + 8) students who were expected to take online/classroom versions of the same course which was otherwise, always taught using classroom techniques. For the simplicity of applications, Yahoo Messenger was chosen as the preferred “learning environment” (most youngsters tend to have a Yahoo account”.
  2. Since, Yahoo supports many additional features like video and audio-compatibility, Wang (2008) used Adobe Flash to present suitable videos presentations for different teaching lessons included in the course. Many more in-built Yahoo features were used with a greater measure of success.
  3. To evaluate the impact of chat messenger learning, Wang (2008) established a statistical criteria called Classroom Community Scale (CCS). The purpose of which was to take independent sample t-test for measuring either group’s (18 or 8) performance vis-à-vis the other group on a host of criteria: social community, learning community, grades, online chat attendance (just like regular chat attendance) and other such parameters.
  4. The results for every study undertaken points to some obvious facts: in all test parameters, students who participated in online chatroom interface had better “score values” than students who studied the same course in face-to-face meetings.

The only requirement for the success of online, chat-room interfaced learning procedures, is the hands-on-skills learning ability which is compulsory for all students participating in such a classroom. In today’s times, most people do have the ability to type fast on a keyboard.

To consolidate our findings from different research designs mentioned in this proposal, it can be stated with clear confidence that chat-room interfaces have a lasting impact on different facets of online learning. Considering that for the most part, distance (online) learning will be institutionalized in terms of academic goals i.e. the degrees awarded as part of online tutoring will be considered equal to conventional degrees, this has a strong relevance in various “implementations of online degrees, visibility, advice and counseling, student technology support, centralized functioning and various other academic requirements.

Also, according to research undertaken by Chao and Chen (2008), there is a direct, straightforward relationship between self-directed learning, and academic performance in an online classroom. According to different case studies presented in their peer-reviewed article, 4 of them showed “enhanced” learning experience for different aspects of learning, as demonstrated by online education undertaken in this regard.

Online distance learning programs, using technological inputs such as chat-interfacing have an additional advantage; from a purely financial point of view, they assure low costs and high reach/penetration. According to a research undertaken to evaluate the applicability of such techniques, online distance-learning programs are commercially viable and should be encouraged for better benefits of students, and learners. The real challenges arise when an instructor has to put “traditional” and “non-traditional” students in the same classroom i.e. a combination of face-to-face classrooms with distance learning programs.

There are many other side advantages of open-learning environments using a combination of “discussion forums, chat interface and other synchronous communication channels”. E.g. Online learning environments using suggested methods apply open-book online testing strategies, which has proven to be far more effective when it comes to assessing the true knowledge and skills of students.

More research is needed to validate above findings, but the results still hold for our present discussions. Moreover, cultivating a strong sense of community is central to the research aims mentioned in Sections 1.3 and 1.4 – online friendship communities promote social cohesion and better group dynamics for improved performances.

WebEx program is a unique service which combines the functionality of a “chat-room interface” with “Blackboard discussion forums” and “Audio-visual inputs” for enhanced, effective teaching methods. The validity of above methods has been strongly suggested, and discussed in this literature review – the complete functionality of WebEx is clear for our future discussions. Unlike “Breeze”, the software used in the 1st research study mentioned in literature, WebEx is not a software in real terms, but an online service by Cisco Sytems Inc. It provides online collaboration, networking and many important “interactivity features”. WebEx is superior to Breeze in the purpose that it supports end-user functionality such as digital pads (for writing). It is presently the best in-house chat interface service used by a clientele of 11,000 from private entrepreneurs to successful business houses.

Major issues/problems

Using online classroom techniques, as outlined in this research proposal, there are a few unique issues which remain to be addressed – this will form the basis of our present study limitations, and important procedures to address the needs at a later stage of the project.

  1. Hands-on-skills. As discussed previously, any measure of success for online WebEx-based teaching techniques rests on the ability of students to be able to type (chat) at a moderately-decent speed. This can pose mild limitations on those who’re not fast with their fingers, or physically-challenged students. These set of problems can be overcome with some training procedures, and quick thinking from learners’ and educators alike.
  2. Chaotic situations: In chat-rooms involving more than 10 students, the biggest problem to be faced will arise due to uncontrollable situations where more than one student has a query/comments on the same issue: this can lead to chat-room “clutter” and “congestion”. Online chat-rooms can pose severe discipline problems if “code of conduct” is not established in advance. Thankfully, WebEx comes readily-equipped with “preferential messaging system” which allows the instructor to conduct one-on-one communications with every member in the discussion forum. This is one of the most remarkable abilities of WebEx which makes it conventionally superior to other meeting interfaces such as Skype, Yahoo Messenger, etc.
  3. Privacy/security/encryption: Since, online courses are conducted all across the world wide web, outside network connections may not have firewall security. This poses risk to information being exchanged through what is believed, are secure connections.
  4. Class-notes: Conventional classrooms have a unique facility which allow for students to write down personal notes. In addition, instructors often provide hand-outs and leaflets. For online classrooms, it’s possible to get organized by developing “structured courses” and including any written literature (handouts, textbooks, notes) as a separate part of the curricula. To facilitate the transfer/exchange of information, my research methodology will include “text-books” as a separate methodology parameter. Any research project should consist of both the “chat-room interface using WebEx and textbooks introduced separately, as part of the curricula”.

WebEx is an advanced utility service which can do wonders to the way music education is being imparted through distant means. The instructors can avoid the only bottlenecks in advance, as enumerated above through correct procedural planning for different study activities.

Limitations of research

Notwithstanding the enormous scope/sampling techniques discussed for this innovative methodology called WebEx, there are a few limitations to the research techniques mentioned in Section 2.5. This proposal can go only as far in calculating the application of such techniques, as far as music education is concerned.

  1. Application to the field of music: All three research designs (as mentioned in Section 2.5) were concerned with subjects that have a strong theoretical foundation e.g. MBA Music education, when online, would require not only exchange of “notes” but sound audio-visual infrastructure for both trainers, as well as students. It remains to be seen whether or not the positive results mentioned in every research design of section 2.5, can be recreated for online music teaching, especially for pre-school music teachers who will have to spend considerable time in understanding the nuances of different teaching applications, as applied to learning music. This is an unexplored area for WebEx to find application. As author, I firmly believe, some of the problems associated with teaching techniques as applied to music, can be overcome using “mandated instructions” for students which would make them accountable for the best-possible upkeep of audio-visual infrastructure (microphones, webcams, digital pads), as part of their course agreement.
  2. Sampling size limited: Even though every research design as mentioned in literature reviews have been found to fulfill stated objectives in sections 1.3 and 1.4, the “size” of samples may not be considered big enough, as of now, to generalize the findings for all aspects of future research. The best way to do it will be to repeat the experiments using “unbiased samples of pre-service music teachers which I intend to do on a trial basis for my dissertation”.

Design and Methodology


Following on the heels of research design results (1,2,3) as discussed in section 2.5, in this section, I shall introduce key elements of a successful research design strategy, as applied to my dissertation on this proposal.

Design parameters/Analysis of results

Refer limitations of research, as discussed in section 2.7 It’s clear that any methodical study (for dissertation) would involve unbiased sampling techniques to achieve the same results as was done in section 2.5. It is with this objective in mind that we shall understand design parameters for different methods of study:

Research Design 1

It involves testing and validation of the following outcomes in study, using a combination of (WebEx + textbooks). A sample choice of 20 pre-school music teachers (my existing batch) will be used to achieve a qualified response on the following result outcomes.

  1. Immediate supports and diverse perspectives on use.
  2. Social presence and sense of connectivity.
  3. Structural support from instructors.
  4. Different learning strategies derived from traditional methods.

Research Design 2

It involves testing and validation of the following outcomes in study, using a combination of (WebEx + textbooks). A sample choice of 20 pre-school music teachers (my existing batch) will be used to achieve a qualified response on the following result outcomes.

  1. Statistical analysis of Blackboard data: Since, WebEx service has a Blackboard facility (it also supports additional features such as measuring the number of “hits” to compile a rough pie-chart/statistical data).
  2. Social network analysis: The measure of networking and social cohesion, will provide a realistic glimpse into the impact made by WebEx on a student’s overall “learning performance”
  3. Content analysis: This metric will provide a “qualitative” picture of how the sample of learners’ “express” their knowledge/learning in common discussion forums; e.g. “reflexes”, “humor” etc.; open communication in terms of “continuing a thread”, “asking questions”. “complimenting”, “encouraging” and “agreement” behavior”; group cohesion in terms of “salutations”, “greetings” etc.

Research Design 3

It involves testing and validation of the following outcomes in study, using a combination of (WebEx + textbooks). A sample choice of 20 pre-school music teachers (my existing batch) will be used to achieve a qualified response on the following result outcomes.

  1. Division of sample (20) into two independent groups of 10 each. One of the groups will be taught a brief teaching course (3-weeks) using conventional, face-to-face teaching methods. The other group will apply WebEx to achieve suggested sample results.
  2. Comparison of results for the performance of each group; statistical means such as t-tests will be employed to ascertain which group performed better.

Timeline and stages for conducting the study

The main purpose of conducting research study will involve the following steps, in order of weekly time schedules:

  • Week 1: Gathering of focus group sample and equipping them with the basics of WebEx operations.
  • Week 2: Course-1: Test research design 1.
  • Week 3: Course-2: Test research design 2.
  • Week 4: Course-3: Test research design 3.
  • Week 5: Analysis of results using statistical means.
  • Week 6: Interpretation of results for future study objectives.

Preparations and Qualifications for this dissertation

As a part-time faculty member at Cambridge College, I have good experience teaching Music in the CC Puerto Rico Graduate Program. I have taught instrumental, vocal and general music in elementary, middle, high school and college levels. Being originally from the south of Puerto Rico I moved to San Juan in 1996 to be the creator and founder of the music school program of the Colegio San Ignacio de Loyola, being also their choral and band director. Subsequently, I worked as a Theory & Solfege and Piano professor at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music.

As musician, I’ve participated with some of the most important Latin music artists such as: Wilkins, Lissette, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Isabel Pantoja, Ednita Nazario, Olga Tañon, Danny Rivera, Cucco Peña, among many others. Unarguably, I’ve been contributing my fresh perspective to this extraordinary distance learning environment for working adults at Cambridge College teaching Foundations of Music Education, Selection and Performance of Music in the Schools, Methods in Music Education, Music for Teachers, Research Methods, Music Form and Analysis, Orchestration and Music Curriculum Development.

For my research study as above:

  1. I have access to “sample size” of qualified learners’ volunteering towards research methodology, as outlined in this proposal.
  2. Prior preparation of course content to be tested using WebEx interface.
  3. Elementary knowledge of working statistics; e.g. pie-charts and t-tests which will be used to validate research design parameters.


Summary analysis

The aim of this research proposal was to present a unique “learning strategy” which would enable distance-learning for pre-service music teachers who don’t have time/resources to attend a full-time university course. I got this idea from observations in my home town, Puerto Rico where there are lots of adult professionals (musicians) who can be good teachers, only if they achieved the perfect “learning environment”. Universities would also stand to benefit from distance-teaching methods in music.

It is with this purpose in mind that I plan to develop the following methodology: “chat interface + textbooks” in a WebEx learning environment, into a full-fledged dissertation, to achieve the most effective learning experience for pre-service music teachers. In order to discuss the effectiveness of this service, as applied to different research questions outlined in section 1.3, following conclusions can be derived from the research questions.

Does the new methodology provide “hands-on” experience to pre-school music teachers?

Yes. As was seen in different study parameters of Research Designs (1,2,3) in Section 2.5, the beauty of WebEx based chat-interface technology in fact, lies in its “interactivity” for a large number of featured applications: text messaging, discussion forums, telephoning, voice chat etc.

Does the new methodology provide a sense of “community participation” i.e. classroom teaching experience for concerned students?

Yes. It has been proved using Research Designs (1,2,3) in Section 2.5. The most important feature of WebEx is its ability to seamlessly integrate students of different backgrounds, into one socially-cohesive unit; so that study lessons allow for better coordination, and enhanced learning experience in the virtual classroom.

Can the impact of this new methodology be gauged in terms of learner response? Can feedback surveys capture the effectiveness of the new methodology?

As proved through sampling techniques in Research Designs (1,2,3) in Section 2.5, for each and every research design, learners could show a better degree of response through WebEx attributes such as Live chat or Discussion Forums.

Possible problems that may be faced in further research and solutions

These concerns have already been addressed in Sections 2.6 and 2.7 respectively.

Possible outcomes to be expected in further study

My present proposal is based on validation of the said methodology “using chat interface + textbooks in a WebEx interface” though a combination of research design tests on different attributes of the methodology. Each one of these tests (total, three in number) is based on a peer-reviewed research source, and thus, suggests positive evidence on research questions analyzed in the study. Future dissertation study should concern itself with the following research outcomes:

  1. Whether research design samples (1,2,3) as described in Section 2.5, can be seamlessly transferred to my own methodology in distance-teaching for pre-school music teachers who will comprise my study sample in dissertation.
  2. What are the real benefits of applying WebEx technology in classroom environment for music education? So far, we have discussed only attributes of WebEx e.g. chat interface, discussion forums etc. Performing real tests will provide hands-on-experience for its reliability. The effectiveness of WebEx can be measured using statistical techniques.


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