Whether in communication, entertainment, media, commerce or the world of work – the advancing digitalization creates opportunities and perspectives in many areas of our everyday life, including education. By integrating digital tools, teaching in schools can be more creative and thus better adapted to the realities of young people’s lives. The education award “Klasse! Lernen. Wir sind digital” is aimed at teachers and students who implement new digital projects in a creative way.
This year’s prize went to the the Music Middle School Eggenburg for its project “He(a)rophone”. For this project, a mobile listening station was developed that allows students to gain an insight into the advanced technology of three-dimensional printing and shows how production processes are changing through innovative manufacturing technologies. We spoke to Prof. Karin Krottendorfer-Stift to find out more about the process and realization of “He(a)rophone”.
How did the idea for the He(a)rophone project come about?
Karin Krottendorfer-Stift: Three years ago, our students created a musical sound wall in the break hall with media designer Nora Dibowski. We wanted to bring the expert back to our school and that’s when the idea came up to install a mobile listening station for our school library, because reading and listening are a big part of our everyday teaching. We also wanted to link our two departments, music and MINT, and encourage collaboration.
Could you tell us more about the implementation process, how you and your class created the He(a)rophone project?
Karin Krottendorfer-Stift: The He(a)rophone project was implemented from September to the end of June. It started with an inspiration phase – visits to the Pilot Factory 4.0 of the Vienna University of Technology, the Makerspace Fablab and the Design Lab of the Museum of Applied Arts. After setting up the new learning space “MintSpace”, workshops on 3D printing and electronics were held with various experts, where the students were able to gain a lot of new knowledge and experience in these areas. Starting in April, content for the listening station was recorded in the form of self-recorded audio stories, podcasts about the project or the music classes’ own music recordings, the headphones were printed, electronic components soldered, glued, installed and the content was transferred to the headphones via the base station (single-board computer Raspberry PI).
What challenges did you face in developing the project and how did you overcome them?
Karin Krottendorfer-Stift: Funding the project was one of the biggest challenges, as well as building the expertise of the teaching staff.
What new knowledge and learning did you and your class gain from developing the project?
Karin Krottendorfer-Stift: The knowledge taught about electronics was a great learning gain for all the students. The awareness that electronic components are ubiquitous in many areas of their lives, be it in game consoles, smart watches or simple torches, was made visible and tangible through small preliminary projects. A new insight for me, but also for the students, was that for better understanding and comprehension it is easier to use the ‘circuit’ feature of the online tool TinkerCad and combine all common electronic components interactively, before the authenticity test is carried out on the circuit board with real electronic components. As a final step, the circuits could be fixed and made more robust by soldering all the components firmly onto a circuit board.
“All in all, the lesson learned was that knowledge of electronics can help us cope better in the modern world and prepare us for future developments.”Karin Krottendorfer-Stift
What does the future hold for your project? Are there any plans for further development?
Karin Krottendorfer-Stift: Once the listening station is completed, it will be available to the school on a long-term basis. The aim is to promote the basic skills of listening and reading among the students. The main location of the listening station will be the library of the Music Middle School, but it can also be used in the classroom during lessons or in the break hall. In good weather, the listening station can be set up in the school playground. It offers students the opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of audio books, podcasts, or music during lessons, breaks or waiting times. In addition to the audio books, there are also reading books that can be read alongside the audio book.
The listening station also laid the foundation for an “open learning room/MintSpaces” in the former computer room of the Music Middle School Eggenburg. With the equipment needed for the production of the listening station, students learn to work independently, creatively and collaboratively with analogue and digital technologies. The open learning space/MintSpace is intended to serve as an experimental, creative and educational zone for teachers and students. The long-term availability of the listening station in the school will enable students to continue to develop their basic listening and reading skills. The project has laid the foundation for a sustainable education where technology and creative skills are encouraged in equal measure.
Prof. Karin Krottendorfer-Stift BEd: teaches Digital Basic Education, MINT, Computer Science and Religion at the Music Middle School Eggenburg. She completed the university course “Coding and Robotics” at the PH Burgenland and is currently completing the university course “Digital Basic Education”.