MOOCs and Music Theory Pedagogy

So, I’ve been watching some of the discussion on massive open online courses (MOOCs) and notice some parallels with things I, and others, experiment with in our music theory classrooms. In discussing the rise of online education, David Brooks’s recent OpEd in the NYTimes, “The Practical University (April 4, 2013),” explores the question that helps me define my pedagogy: “What is a university for?” Continue reading

cool pedagogy intersections: engineering and the rest of the world

My friend Sarah recommended The Journal of Engineering Education to me as a really solid and totally awesome source of pedagogy research. So, I went and looked at the most recent issue (October 2012) and picked the article that called to me the strongest: “The Informed Design Teaching and Learning Matrix.” Authored by David P. Crismond (CUNY, City College) and Robin S. Adams (Purdue University), it is a huge article (40 large pages of single-spaced prose before the 20 pages of citations), incredibly well-grounded in previous research, and meticulously written/organized. It inspired many ideas for my classrooms and I was regularly amazed by the universality a lot of what they recommend: it applies to my own learning, parenting, classroom teaching, one-on-one teaching, mentoring, and probably a number of other things I’m forgetting at the moment.

These authors are focused on how engineering design is taught and learned. By design, they refer to the process of creating an object/solution (such as a parachute) according to given parameters. They present their findings as a matrix (table) that “contains nine engineering design strategies and associated patterns that contrast beginning versus informed design behaviors, with links to learning goals and instructional approaches that aim to support students in developing their engineering design abilities.” (p. 738) This sounds intimidating, but it is very cool. The bulk of the article and –for me– the most thought-provoking is the section “Unpacking the Matrix.” Each of the nine patterns is discussed in two sub-sections: a summary/description and teaching strategies.  What a goldmine!  Here are three of my three favorite “ah ha!” moments. I have organized them from the most general to the most specific, in terms of “field of study.” Continue reading

In the midst of the Middle Ground

Today, my Form and Analysis class visited our wonderful museum and received an introduction to visual analysis. Everyone attended, everyone spoke, and everyone was engaged (a 12-student class). I am curious to hear what they think they took from the visit when we meet again on Friday. I’m equally curious to see if, at the end of the semester, they find that they took more than expected from the visit. We engaged with four works, and I described some of my and the museum’s educators’ preparation in this post. Continue reading

Skill: Asking Questions

We all know that the job prospects for the 22-year-old Bachelor of Music student are grim.  For most, it’ll take persistance and debt in addition to continued discipline in their practice and commitment to excellence.  My job is to help them understand better/deeper/differently the music that they have committed to. As I think about how best to help my students succeed, I put a lot of thought into other skills they need.  For instance, I try to foreground excellence in my grading systems (see this post).  Recently, I have also been experimenting with the skill of asking questions. Continue reading

Expanding Content

When does content matter?

I ask the question because I’ve been utterly convinced by a mentor and friend that it makes a significant difference in my teaching when I make a distinction between content and skills. Continue reading