Based in Los Angeles and online, the ICON Collective College of Music focuses on contemporary music production, leveraging experienced professionals from the industry to make their coursework impactful and relevant. Having set a goal of becoming an elite institution, ICON has been open to trying new technologies and experimenting with the best ways to engage with students, to drive better outcomes. 

The Problem: Making online learning engaging and impactful is about more than just content delivery

While ICON already had a learning management system in Canvas, they wanted to improve their online learning experience in a way that would mean students truly mastered the material, and removed some of the tedium and boredom of traditional educational approaches. 

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“Midterms and finals are hard stress points, and online they make less sense,” explains John von Seggern, Director of Online Education at ICON. “We want them to learn the information, not just take a test. So, we were excited about Cerego since it allowed us to get rid of tests, and focus on knowledge building. If they don’t know about a topic or learn slower, they’ll get the grade as long as they put in the time.

The Cerego solution

“While we can still still integrate with our existing structure [through Canvas], we were able to replace all quizzes and tests with Cerego sets. By setting the difficulty factor to 1.5, we see that some students can accomplish our learning goals with only a few study sessions, and those who learn more slowly still get there since Cerego builds in all the follow-up necessary to drive retention.

 

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"We thought there had to be a tool out there that puts practice and retention above preparing for an exam. ICON is committed to our students' development as artists and Cerego helped us put the emphasis on mastery, rather than test scores."

-John von Seggern, Director of Online Education

 

“In Canvas, you just have quizzes and tests,” von Seggern says. “Adding Cerego means more rich, interactive experiences for the students. They are shown something, and based on their response they get immediate follow-up—get it wrong, Cerego explains why, and then has the students go over that concept again before the end of their study session. 

“One of the ways we use Cerego is for ear training—you have to do drills over and over again. There needs to be a level of mastery before you can move on. We can leverage the multiple choice question option for this in the platform, alongside the media.” 

The results? “Grades have been higher, and the students are learning the material better. Eliminating tests just means they must achieve a certain level before they go on,” says von Seggern. 

Students using education technology tools

A sustainable, integrated approach

“The process was very easy for us—Cerego allows for seamless reporting via the grade book integration in Canvas,” von Seggern outlines. “That also means you can see how the students are performing in Canvas within Cerego.

“Also, in terms of creating content, Cerego has been great for us. The way the backend works, you don’t have to hit return or save when creating content—the ease of use just makes it much faster.”

With such a successful implementation so far, ICON plans to roll it out across all their programming, in Los Angeles and beyond. “We were really looking for something like this because musicians need to train for mastery not for test scores. We thought there had to be a tool out there that puts practice and retention above preparing for an exam. ICON is committed to our students' development as artists and Cerego helped us put the emphasis on mastery, rather than test scores.”

Cerego has been a great fit for their demographics as well. “The segment of young people coming to ICON are tech savvy—young people have high expectations of what online tech should do. So, the students appreciate not only the user experience but also the learning science behind it.”

Thanks very much to John von Seggern for the interview! You can learn more about ICON Collective College of Music via their official website. Photos courtesy of ICON.

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