The Curricular Soundtrack: Designing Interdisciplinary Music Technology Degrees Through Cognitive Apprenticeship and Situated Learning



Twenty-first-century music technology now intersects many disciplines, including sound engineering, computing, interactive media, networked performance, composition, gaming, and the digital humanities. For colleges and universities thinking of offering new interdisciplinary music technology degrees, this landscape can be intimidating. What does “interdisciplinary” even mean? Students, faculty, and administrators all have different perspectives. So do educators in STEM, liberal and performing arts, and the humanities. Addressing such questions requires an inclusive culture that sees music and computing as complementary, forming a single discipline. Coming to an agreement on a list of technology and art competencies—a collaborative task many academic stakeholders are not used to—complicate the “degree identity” challenges. Once ascertained, that vision forms the basis of a new curricular model that shows how the program readies students to face employment. This chapter uses cognitive apprenticeship and situated learning as theoretical structures to establish and assess critical relationships between the music technology industry and higher education. It describes a holistic organization in which faculty, administration, and business partners adopt a common language to support the pedagogical mission of music technology programs in the twenty-first century. It reflects on theoretical aspects of decision-making that affect music technology pedagogy and curriculum. The chapter then offers suggestions on how to use a balanced approach in advancing theory, praxis, and collaboration between music technology and STEM-related disciplines in higher education.


Cognitive apprenticeship Music technology Situated learning Interdisciplinary collaboration Curriculum Instruction Audio education 



The author wishes to thank Dr. Jesse Heines, Dr. Christopher Lee, Dr. Elissa Johnson-Green, and Professor Kyle Snyder for their valuable comments and feedback on the early drafts of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Massachusetts LowellLowellUSA

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