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.

Podcasting

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.

MOOC

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.

Starting afresh

After four years as Head of Department (of Musicology at UiO), I am going back to my regular associate professor position in January. It has been a both challenging and rewarding period as HoD, during which I have learned a lot about managing people, managing budgets, understanding huge organizations, developing strategies, talking to all sorts of people at all levels in the system, and much more.

I am happy to hand over a Department in growth to the new HoD (Peter Edwards). We have implemented a new bachelor’s program, launched UiO’s first MOOC (Music Moves), and hired a number of new people, just to mention a few of the things I have worked on over the last years. I am also proud that we just got our new appointment plan approved before Christmas, aiming at hiring up to seven new professors within the next five years. Humanities departments are under a lot of pressure these days, so I am very grateful that we are in a position to expand in the coming years!

I have only been teaching sporadically while being HoD, so I am excited about getting back to running the course Interactive Music that I started up a while back. This is a so-called “practical-theoretical” course, aiming at giving students a holistic perspective on designing musical instruments and systems. I published a paper on the design of this course a few years ago (An action–sound approach to teaching interactive music), and have since gathered some more ideas that I want to test out when it comes to teaching students a combination of music cognition and technology focused around some concrete designs. I also hope that these ideas will turn into my next book project, if successful.

I am also excited about starting up ny new research project MICRO – Human Bodily Micromotion in Music Perception and Interaction, in which we will focus on how music influences us when at rest. Fortunately, the fourMs lab is really getting up to speed now, so we will really be able to study micromotion in great detail.

In getting ready for my new working life, I decided to wipe my main computer (a Lenovo Yoga Pro 2) yesterday. I have been running various versions of Ubuntu over the last years (Ubuntu Studio, Ubuntu GNOME, and Linux Mint), but decided to go for the regular Ubuntu 16.10 this time around. I think Unity has matured quite a bit now, and works very well on the Yoga’s multitouch HiDPI display. This was my first complete reinstall since I got the laptop almost three years, and was definitely needed. I always test a lot of different software and settings, so the system had gotten clogged up by lots of weird stuff on top of each other. The new clean system definitely feels smooth and well-functioning. It feels like a digital and mental “shower”, getting ready for the new year!

New paper: “NIMEhub: Toward a Repository for Sharing and Archiving Instrument Designs”

At NIME we have a large archive of the conference proceedings, but we do not (yet) have a proper repository for instrument designs. For that reason I took part in a workshop on Monday with the aim to lay the groundwork for a new repository:

NIMEhub: Toward a Repository for Sharing and Archiving Instrument Designs [PDF]

This workshop will explore the potential creation of a community database of digital musical instrument (DMI) designs. In other research communities, reproducible research practices are common, including open-source software, open datasets, established evaluation methods and community standards for research practice. NIME could benefit from similar practices, both to share ideas amongst geographically distant researchers and to maintain instrument designs after their first performances. However, the needs of NIME are different from other communities on account of NIME’s reliance on custom hardware designs and the interdependence of technology and arts practice. This half-day workshop will promote a community discussion of the potential benefits and challenges of a DMI repository and plan concrete steps toward its implementation.

Reference
McPherson, A. P., Berdahl, E., Lyons, M. J., Jensenius, A. R., Bukvic, I. I., & Knudsen, A. (2016). NIMEhub: Toward a Repository for Sharing and Archiving Instrument Designs. In Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces For Musical Expression. Brisbane.

BibTeX

@inproceedings{mcpherson_nimehub:_2016,
    address = {Brisbane},
    title = {{NIMEhub}: {Toward} a {Repository} for {Sharing} and {Archiving} {Instrument} {Designs}},
    abstract = {This workshop will explore the potential creation of a community database of digital musical instrument (DMI) designs. In other research communities, reproducible research practices are common, including open-source software, open datasets, established evaluation methods and community standards for research practice. NIME could benefit from similar practices, both to share ideas amongst geographically distant researchers and to maintain instrument designs after their first performances. However, the needs of NIME are different from other communities on account of NIME's reliance on custom hardware designs and the interdependence of technology and arts practice. This half-day workshop will promote a community discussion of the potential benefits and challenges of a DMI repository and plan concrete steps toward its implementation.},
    booktitle = {Proceedings of the {International} {Conference} on {New} {Interfaces} {For} {Musical} {Expression}},
    author = {McPherson, Andrew P. and Berdahl, Edgar and Lyons, Michael J. and Jensenius, Alexander Refsum and Bukvic, Ivica Ico and Knudsen, Arve},
    year = {2016},
    file = {McPherson_et_al_2016_NIMEhub.pdf:/home/alexarje/Dropbox/Reference/Zotero/McPherson et al/McPherson_et_al_2016_NIMEhub.pdf:application/pdf}
}

New MOOC: Music Moves

Together with several colleagues, and with great practical and economic support from the University of Oslo, I am happy to announce that we will soon kick off our first free online course (a so-called MOOC) called Music Moves.

Music Moves: Why Does Music Make You Move?

Learn about the psychology of music and movement, and how researchers study music-related movements, with this free online course.

Go to course – starts 1 Feb

About the course

Music is movement. A bold statement, but one that we will explore together in this free online course. Together we will study music through different types of body movement. This includes everything from the sound-producing keyboard actions of a pianist to the energetic dance moves in a club.

You will learn about the theoretical foundations for what we call embodied music cognition and why body movement is crucial for how we experience the emotional moods in music. We will also explore different research methods used at universities and conservatories. These include advanced motion capture systems and sound analysis methods.

You will be guided by a group of music researchers from the University of Oslo, with musical examples from four professional musicians. The course is rich in high-quality text, images, video, audio and interactive elements.

Join us to learn more about terms such as entrainment and musical metaphors, and why it is difficult to sit still when you experience a good groove.

  • FREE online course
  • 3 hours pw
  • Certificates available

Educators

Alexander Refsum Jensenius Alexander Refsum Jensenius

Diana Kayser (Mentor) Diana Kayser (Mentor)

Hans T. Zeiner-Henriksen Hans T. Zeiner-Henriksen

Kristian Nymoen Kristian Nymoen

Requirements

This course is open to everyone. No technical knowledge of music or dance is required.

Get a personalised, digital and printed certificate

You can buy a Statement of Participation for this course — a personalised certificate in both digital and printed formats — to show that you’ve taken part.

Join the conversation on social media

Use the hashtag #FLmusicmoves to join and contribute to social media conversations about this course.

Go to course – starts 1 Feb

New publication: An Action-Sound Approach to Teaching Interactive Music

action-sound-os2013My paper titled An action–sound approach to teaching interactive music has recently been published by Organised Sound. The paper is based on some of the theoretical ideas on action-sound couplings developed in my PhD, combined with how I designed the course Interactive Music based on such an approach to music technology.

Abstract
The conceptual starting point for an `action-sound approach’ to teaching music technology is the acknowledgment of the couplings that exist in acoustic instruments between sounding objects, sound-producing actions and the resultant sounds themselves. Digital music technologies, on the other hand, are not limited to such natural couplings, but allow for arbitrary new relationships to be created between objects, actions and sounds. The endless possibilities of such virtual action-sound relationships can be exciting and creatively inspiring, but they can also lead to frustration among performers and confusion for audiences. This paper presents the theoretical foundations for an action-sound approach to electronic instrument design and discusses the ways in which this approach has shaped the undergraduate course titled `Interactive Music’ at the University of Oslo. In this course, students start out by exploring various types of acoustic action-sound couplings before moving on to designing, building, performing and evaluating both analogue and digital electronic instruments from an action-sound perspective.

Reference
Jensenius, A. R. (2013). An action–sound approach to teaching interactive music. Organised Sound, 18(2):178–189.

BibTeX

@article{Jensenius:2013b,
 Author = {Jensenius, Alexander Refsum},
 Journal = {Organised Sound},
 Number = {2},
 Pages = {178--189},
 Title = {An Action--Sound Approach to Teaching Interactive Music},
 Volume = {18},
 Year = {2013}}