Ask the Experts: Apps Recommendations

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Q: Though we spend much of our time as dance educators subjectively assessing our students' movement, there are times when we have questions that require specific answers. What apps do you recommend for testing on things like principles of composition, dance history facts and Language of Dance symbols?


A: The latest trend in educational technology is to make this type of assessment a game. A popular app is Kahoot!, which you can use to create a multiple-choice test to project in the classroom. The students answer from their devices and can view the class results (as a whole) in real time. You can add video and pictures, time the questions and share it with other teachers. Quizziz is a similar app that allows students to play at their own pace or at home. Socrative has features best left to older kids, like open-ended questions and team games.

Edpuzzle and Playposit take another approach and allow you to embed questions within a video (from YouTube or one of your own). When students answer, the results show up in real time on your device.

Don't want your students to have devices out? Plickers is a great alternative. With Plickers, students have laminated cards with special symbols on them. You ask the class a question, and then students hold up their cards in a certain direction to designate their answers. As you scan the room using your phone or tablet's camera, your device reads the room—literally—and gives you everyone's answer.

Best of all, all of these apps are free.

Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

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Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

Recently, I posted a thread of tweets elucidating the lack of respect for tap dance in college dance programs, and arguing that it should be a requirement for dance majors.

According to onstageblog.com, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

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Teaching Tips
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After months of lockdowns and virtual learning, many studios across the country are opening their doors and returning to in-person classes. Teachers and students alike have likely been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the return of dance-class normalcy that doesn't require a reliable internet connection or converting your living room into a dance space.

But along with the back-to-school excitement, dancers might be feeling rusty from being away from the studio for so long. A loss of flexibility, strength and stamina is to be expected, not to mention emotional fatigue from all of the uncertainty and reacclimating to social activities.

So as much as everyone wants to get back to normal—teachers and studio owners included—erring on the side of caution with your dancers' training will be the most beneficial approach in the long run.

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