Improvising, learning and sharing – one teacher’s guide to #hacktheclassroom – André Spang, Germany

What do musicians and educators have in common? If you ask André Spang – both an accomplished jazz musician and a teacher – more than you might think.

“As a jazz musician I have to improvise,” says Spang. “If I adapt technology to the classroom – to #hacktheclassroom…I have to improvise and look at how it fits with the curriculum.”

Spang and I met in Budapest during the recent Microsoft E2 Global Educator Exchange, which celebrates the achievements of extraordinary educators who combine content, pedagogy and technology to create innovative learning environments for their students.

Spang fits the bill perfectly. He is a Microsoft Expert Educator (class of 2015), a public high school teacher in Cologne and a lecturer at the University of Cologne for Music and Digital Media. He’s also the founder of German #EDchatDE, a Twitter chat for educators.

Spang’s background in music and composing has played a big part in his willingness to try new things in his classroom, and just as important, to share his experiences and learn from other educators.

“Actually I am trying to do a lot of open practice,” he says. “Now I’m using Minecraft. So I do gamification. For open practice, I use blogs and wikis to get collaboration going between students and to be transparent with other teachers and parents. Because that’s also a big deal – to show other teachers and parents what you do with technology.”

Spang admits that using technology in the classroom can at first seem intimidating, but he offers some advice.

“Using technology is always a chance and a challenge,” he says. “If you do something the first time, you have to be prepared and open to fail. But then the learning starts. Actually, that is what we should teach our learners – to take risks. And if we take risks on our own, we can be more credible.”

With that credibility, Spang has seen incredible engagement on the part of his students.

“To me it’s very important to be open, but also very important to talk with the students,” he adds. “If you try something new, especially with technology, you can learn a lot from the students because they live in this world and they use it fluently. It’s a good thing to take them to ‘the boat,’ you know, and learn from each other.”

Enjoy today’s Daily Edventure with the incredible André Spang.

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