Digital Strategy for Teaching and Learning

In May of 2020, our ad-hoc working group submitted our findings to administration and made a list of recommendations. Below is the summary of our findings, our proposed strategy, as well as the principles and frameworks that guided our group’s decisions. You can read the full report here.

Key Findings

  • High-quality, low-latency distance learning opportunities for lessons, juries, and chamber ensemble rehearsals can be achieved through a combination of hardware and software.
  • Strategic use of technology allows for flexibility in program delivery, enabling Setnor to respond to various Covid and post-Covid scenarios, where not all groups may be comfortable or physically able to meet in person.
  • Providing our graduating students with robust and meaningful experiences using industry-standard technology will better prepare them for the 21st century musician’s job market.
  • This technology can also be used to connect with our partners in other locations, including programs in New York City, Los Angeles, Strasbourg (France), and Paraíba (Brazil), creating new opportunities with partners, and making extant activities easier.
  • High-quality recordings of student and faculty musical activities can be assembled and presented publicly (e.g. virtual recitals, convocations, webinars) as promotional and recruitment videos.


The Setnor School of Music should adopt technology that allows for all activities to take place online. Some of these activities can take place using extant teleconferencing tools, such as Zoom and Blackboard Collaborate Ultra. However, due to the nature of music making, some activities will need additional resources beyond these platforms. For example, lessons, ensembles, and certain SRT courses where high-quality and low-latency audio is required will need additional tools.

To mitigate impacts, we propose a three-part strategy for online learning. The first part is to invest in equipment so that every student and faculty can capture high-quality audio remotely (Activity 1). Relatedly, we propose we adopt a common digital audio workstation (DAW) for every student and faculty so they can edit and mix their own captured audio (Activity 2). Finally, we should adopt an audio streaming service for high-quality and low-latency audio in courses that require greater fidelity for synchronous interaction (Activity 3). This hardware and software will find immediate use during the fall semester as we adjust to a hybrid model (online/residential). However, this strategy implements technology across our programs in a way that has a lasting impact.

Working Group Principles

When our group began to meet at the end of April, we adopted the following principles to guide our decision making:

  • Covid-19 will have an impact on the ways we deliver instruction in the Fall of 2020, including the possibility of dramatic interruptions to in-person teaching. These impacts will affect different parts of our curricula differently, with music ensembles being impacted the most.
  • Use of technology has the ability to mitigate some, but not all of these impacts. In addition to the thoughtful use of technology, it is certain that the learning activities in some classes will need to be reconsidered and adjusted alongside the implementation of new technology.
  • School and program-wide decisions on technology and curricular changes should be made with accessibility in mind. Though implementation of technology may require certain baseline assumptions of our students (e.g. broadband internet), it is imperative that our decisions do not contribute to extant disparities in educational access.
  • This working group is determined to move fast and make recommendations as quickly as possible in order to be prepared for the fall semester. Even so, we will strive to engage all programs to ensure these recommendations receive consensus from the faculty.
  • We have a unique opportunity to adopt solutions to the present challenges that persist beyond this moment and will enhance teaching and learning and further differentiate the Setnor School of Music for its innovative curricula.

Allocation Framework

Limited resources are available for the implementation of this strategy and we want to make sure that these resources support the educational experience of all students at the Setnor School of Music. Therefore, we came up with some working guidelines for how we plan to prioritize the distribution of hardware:

  • Students. Students receive first priority. It is our goal that every student will have access to a Tascam recording device if they don’t already own an equivalent device.
  • Instructors teaching online. Remote teaching scenarios will also be prioritized.
  • Ensemble directors. We anticipate ensemble directors needing access to a Tascam for both hybrid and online instructional scenarios.
  • Departmental and contingency needs. It is our hope that every department at Setnor will have access to several Tascams. We also anticipate certain spaces within Syracuse University requiring a Tascam setup for recording and microphone purposes.