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Published April 12, 2016 | Dancing

The Electronic Tablet in Dance: A Tool at the Service of the Body

In a program such as the pre-university DEC in Dance, where visual elements have so much importance, digital elements – in particular in the form of the electronic tablet – open stimulating perspectives for teaching and learning. This is what stands out from the interview conducted by Pierre Cohen-Bacrie, ICT education advisor, with Sophie Lavigne, dance teacher at Collège Montmorency.

It all started 18 months ago, when Mélanie Martin, teacher at Cégep Saint-Laurent, presented the electronic tablet and its applications to teachers in the Dance Department at Collège Montmorency, which Sophie Lavigne is part of. Sophie began using the tablet in her courses, starting in the fall of 2014, at the same time as many of her colleagues.

“Thanks to the use of the tablet, my teaching practice has been transformed, and it is just the beginning”, Sophie says right at the beginning of the interview.

In particular, this new tool gives teachers the possibility to film their practical tests and to analyse them directly with the tablet using Coach’s Eye, an application which allows teachers to insert their voice at a precise moment when the comment is pertinent.  This application also allows to add slow motion commentary, to zoom in on a part of the body, and to draw on the image of the student with the help of arrows and geometric forms of various colours.

Previously, the teacher’s corrections were confined to an analysis grid and given to the student in writing. The written recommendation to correct a movement could be laborious (for example: “at the third measure, during the second pirouette en dehors (a turn in the direction of the raised leg), hold the height of the retiré (raised leg is turned out and bent at the knee) until the end of the pirouette”). The students did not fully benefit from the corrections, sometimes misunderstood them, or even did not read them in some cases. “With the use of the tablet, the students can make connections more easily between the comment and the movement. They clearly see what is to be corrected and they can put the correction into practice more rapidly”, Sophie explains.

“With this new method, it is not faster to complete the corrections, but it is more enjoyable, more precise and more visual, both for the teachers and the students. In fact, on many occasions, my students have expressed their satisfaction and appreciation for the video analysis I provide them by posting results on the virtual cloud”, adds Sophie.

The use of the tablet has greatly facilitated accessibility to the videos. Before, the exams were available on DVD and were limited to on-site consultation only.  With the institutional cloud environment, it is now possible for students to look at their exam results at home, benefiting from individualized comments which help them to evolve in their learning process.

In the photo: Lucie Sesana. Photographer: Annie Poirier © Collège Montmorency

The Context for Using the Tablet

Coupled with a large screen in each dance studio, the tablet also allows videos from the Internet to be watched in class.  We find dance performances, lessons from ballet masters, excerpts from contemporary dance courses, interviews and previews for shows that can support the material seen in class and serve as sources of inspiration for the students.

This new information offers a variety of pedagogical strategies and is stimulating for the team of teachers. In fact, Sophie tells us, “the practical application possibilities are immense…There is still a lot for us to discover.”

For the moment, the teachers in the Dance Department use the tablet mainly in the following contexts:

  • As part of formative evaluations, whether for self-evaluation, peer-evaluation or by the teacher
  • As part of summative evaluations
  • During team work for creation classes
  • In the case of choreographies presented on stage
  • For research assignments tied to the process of creation of a choreography
  • To watch videos in class

In the photo: Ariane Labelle Lemieux and Dario Hugues Milard. Photographer: Jean-Sébastien Francoeur © Collège Montmorency

Ethical Considerations and Digital Citizenship

The Department is fortunate to have tablets, laptop computers and wall-mounted screens in the studios. The teachers of the Dance Department are also grateful for the help of the college IT department to have guided them in setting up this new technology.

Sophie mentions that downloading videos from the institutional cloud environment can take time, but once the video is on her tablet, her laptop computer or her smart phone, she can work from anywhere.

From the perspective of class preparation, the tablet makes the teacher’s work easier because the exercises, digitally filmed and archived in the cloud, are on hand at all times to refresh their muscle memory. Moreover, using videos and images are very practical for demonstrating department life on our Facebook page, for example.

Ethical considerations in the learning process have also been considered. A contract is signed by all students at the beginning of the program, regarding the conditions of using pedagogical material captured on video. By signing the contract, students agree not to modify, exploit or release video content in order to preserve the private lives of other students, the freedom of creation of the teachers and to respect copyrights.

By their ability to become good digital citizens, in addition to benefiting from a learning tool that is well-adapted to their needs, these students are an example of what the integration of ICT can bring to pedagogy and instruction in colleges.

Thank you to Chantal Lamirande and Lise Beausoleil, teachers of dance at Collège Montmorency, for proofreading the text.

About the Authors

After her studies in dance at Collège Montmorency, Sophie Lavigne continued her training at Université du Québec à Montréal, where she completed two Bachelor’s Degrees in Dance, one in teaching and one in interpretation.  At the end of her studies, she received the William-Douglas Award of Excellence from the UQAM Foundation.  During her career as a performer, she danced the works of many choreographers, which allowed her to perform internationally. Sophie became a member of the team of teachers in the Dance Department at Collège Montmorency in 2005, where she works to develop sensitive, creative and critical apprentices of dance.

Holder of a Master’s Degree in Philosophy from the Université-Paul-Valéry-Montpellier-III and a Postgraduate Degree in Pedagogy from the Faculty of Graduate Studies at the Université de Montréal, Pierre Cohen-Bacrie taught philosophy at the college level and coordinated its teaching throughout the province of Quebec.  Pierre has been the ICT Education Advisor at Collège Montmorency since 2000. With the objective of integrating technology into teaching and learning, he has written several articles about free software and its use in higher education.

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