Reflecting on some flipped classroom strategies

I was invited to talk about my experiences with flipped classroom methodologies at a seminar at the Faculty of Humanities last week. Preparing for the talk got me to revisit my own journey of working towards flipped teaching methodologies. This has also involved explorations of various types of audio/video recording. I will go through them in chronological order.


Back in 2009-2011, I created “podcasts” of my lectures a couple of semesters, such as in the course MUS2006 Music and Body Movements (which was at the time taught in Norwegian). What I did was primarily to record the audio of the lectures and make them available for the students to listen/download. I experimented with different setups, microphones, etc., and eventually managed to find something that was quite time-efficient.

The problem, however, was that I did not find the cost-benefit ratio to be high enough. This is a course with fairly few students (20-40), and not many actually listened to the lectures. I don’t blame them, though, as listening to 2×45 minutes of lecturing is not the most efficient way of learning.

Lecture recording

I organized the huge NIME conference in 2011, and then decided to explore the new video production facilities available in the auditorium we were using. All of the lectures and performances of the conference were made available on Vimeo shortly after the conference. Some of the videos have actually been played quite a lot, and I have also used them as reference material in other courses.

Making these videos required a (at the time) quite expensive setup, one person that was in charge of the live mixing, and quite a lot of man-hours in uploading everything afterwards. So I quickly realized that this is not something that one can do for regular teaching.

Screencast tutorials

After my “long-lecture” recording trials, I found that what I was myself finding useful, was fairly short video tutorials on particular topics. So when I was developing the course MUS2830 Interaktiv musikk, I also started exploring making short screencast videos with introductory material to the graphical programming environment PD. These videos go through the most basic stuff, things that the students really need to get going, hence it is important that they can access it even if they missed the opening classes.

The production of these were easy, using Camtasia for screencasting (I was still using OSX at the time), a headset to get better audio, and very basic editing before uploading to our learning platform and also sharing openly on YouTube. The videos are short (5-10 minutes) and I still refer students to them.

Besides the video stuff, there are also several other interesting flipped classroom aspects of the course, which are described in the paper An Action-Sound Approach to Teaching Interactive Music.


The experimentation with all of the above had wet my appetite for new teaching and learning strategies. So when the UiO called for projects to develop a MOOC – Massive Open Online Course – I easily jumped on. The result became Music Moves, a free online course on the FutureLearn platform.

There are a number of things to say about developing a MOOC, but the short story is that it is much more work than we had anticipated. It would have never worked without a great team, including several of my colleagues, a professional video producer, an external project manager, and many more.

The end result is great, though, and we have literally had thousands of people following the course during the different runs we have had. The main problem is the lack of a business model around MOOCs here in Norway. Since education is free, we cannot earn any money on running a MOOC. Teaching allocations are based on the number of study points generated from courses, but a MOOC does not count as a normal course, hence the department does not get any money, and the teachers involved don’t get any hours allocated to re-run the MOOC.

We have therefore been experimenting with running the MOOC as part of the course MUS2006 Music and Body Movements. That has been both interesting and challenging, since you need to guide your attention both to the on-campus students but also to focus on the online learners’ experience. We are soon to run Music Moves for the fourth time, and this time in connection with the NordicSMC Winter School. Our previous on/off-campus teaching has been happening in parallel. Now we are planning that all winter school attendees will have to complete the online course before the intensive week in Oslo. It will be interesting to see how this works out in practice.

Flipped, joint master’s

Our most extreme flipped classroom experiment to date, is the design of a completely flipped master’s programme: Music, Communication and Technology. This is not only flipped in terms of the way it is taught, but it is also shared between UiO and NTNU, which adds additional complexity to the setup. I will write a lot more about this programme in later blog posts, but to summarize: it has been a hectic first semester, but also great fun. And we are looking forwards to recruiting new students to start in 2019.

Lecture-performance setup

I have not been very good at blogging recently, primarily because I have been so busy in starting up both RITMO and MCT. As things are calming down a bit now, I am also trying to do some digital cleaning up, archiving files, organizing photos, etc.

As part of the cleanup, I came across this picture of my setup for a lecture-performance held at the humanities library earlier this fall. It consists of a number of sound makers, various types of acoustic ones, and also some electronic. Note that I am not using a computer, and there was no projector, so the entire thing is based on talking and playing. Feels very “unplugged”, and gives me (and hopefully the audience) a feeling of performing more than lecturing.

I have been using a similar setup in several lectures over the past year, testing out some ideas that are part of a book project that I am working on. The short story is that I am trying to create a coherent theoretical model for both acoustic and electronic instruments. More on that later!

Musical Gestures Toolbox for Matlab

Yesterday I presented the Musical Gestures Toolbox for Matlab in the late-breaking demo session at the ISMIR conference in Paris.

The Musical Gestures Toolbox for Matlab (MGT) aims at assisting music researchers with importing, preprocessing, analyzing, and visualizing video, audio, and motion capture data in a coherent manner within Matlab.

Most of the concepts in the toolbox are based on the Musical Gestures Toolbox that I first developed for Max more than a decade ago. A lot of the Matlab coding for the new version was done in the master’s thesis by Bo Zhou.

The new MGT is available on Github, and there is a more or less complete introduction to the main features in the software carpentry workshop Quantitative Video analysis for Qualitative Research.

Deciding on author names in publications

Publications are important for researchers. Therefore deciding on who should be named as author for an academic publication is a topic that often leads to discussions. Also the ordering of the author names in a publication is a topic for heated debate, and particularly when you work in interdisciplinary teams with different traditions, as can be seen in the version from PhD Comics below.

Here is a task I have developed as a point of departure for discussing this issue in research groups. This is a task we have used successfully at RITMO, and hopefully others can make use of it too.

Publication case

Consider the following scenario:

  • Professor Pia secures funding for a large project with a brilliant overarching research idea.
  • Professor Per leads a sub-project in the project focusing on an empirical investigation of the brilliant research idea. He hires PhD student Siri and Postdoc Palle to work on the experiment.
  • PhD student Siri and Postdoc Palle designs and carries out the experiment.
  • Administrator Anton helps with recruiting all the participants.
  • PhD student Sofie provides all the sound material used in the study, and a preliminary analysis of the sound.
  • Research assistant Anders helps with all the recordings for the experiment, including post-processing all the data.
  • Lab engineer Erik programs the system used for data collection.
  • Statistician Svein helps with the analysis of the data.
  • A large part of the analysis is done using a toolbox made by Postdoc Penelope.
  • Professor Pernille suggests an alternative analysis method in a seminar with a presentation of preliminary results of the data. This alternative analysis method turns out to be very promising and is therefore included in the paper.
  • PhD student Siri writes the main part of the paper.
  • Postdoc Palle makes all the figures and writes some of the text.
  • Professor Per reads the paper and comments on a few things.


Who gets on the publication list, and in which order?