Authentic Learning Innovation in an Online Music Course

Here is a Web-based version of my EDULEARN10 conference presentation on the topic:

Authentic Learning Innovation in an Online Music Course

This Web-based PowerPoint presentation (optimized for the Internet Explorer browser) describes the rationale and strategy for an authentic learning innovation to improve the relevance of course activities that address adult learner needs. An online digital repository of authentic learning artifacts are used in an online music course (exploration of western classical music) as the first stage of an action research project for which user experience data collection will be performed.

Authentic learning in this context is based on an initial curriculum innovation in which traditional assessments (quizzes, essay assignments, etc.) of recall of facts and concepts about music composers and compositions are augmented by a series of online music resources (music scores, audio/video performances) that form the basis of discussion and project assignments in which learning is situated in the authentic practice domain of music (composition and performance).

Presented at the 10th Annual International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies in Barcelona (Spain), July 5-7, 2010.

Insights, experiences, and other comments welcome in reply,


NB: Here are links to the performance and score for the composition illustrated in the presentation.

If you would like to try viewing the score and listening at the same time, click on the link to the youtube video performance to open it in a new window and place that window on one side of your screen. Then click on the link to the score to open it in a new window and place that window on the other side of your screen. When in place, click the play arrow on the youtube video and begin watching the score from top to bottom to try to follow on the score what you hear.

Note: This music is from a later point in the course and you don’t have the practice effect working from more simple scores in the Renaissance, but give it a try to see how listening and watching the way musicians perform could help you learn in a more situated manner, the nature of music composition and performance (side by side).

Composition: Songs without Words, Op. 38, No. 6 Duetto (by Mendelssohn)
Performance: Emil Gilels (courtesy of youtube channel)

Score: (public domain)

(note: scroll score down to beginning of No. 6)

Note: In the first week of the course, learners are taught the basics of reading music scores, such as the higher the sound (pitch) that you hear, the higher its visual representation on a staff (five horizontal lines with notes contained within lines or spaces) within  the score. Also, they are taught that you need to read the score like a book, from left to right across each staff and from top to bottom on each staff per page. If you are following the score while listening, follow these rules for reading.

After starting by following simple vocal scores from Renaissance music, by the fourth week, learners became reasonably skilled in following the score to be able to follow this piano composition from the Romantic period, and in doing so, their mental model of both composition and performance was very strong.

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4 Responses to Authentic Learning Innovation in an Online Music Course

  1. D Macrae says:

    Doc – Interesting presentation. I can see where viewing an online performance can add to the learning experience, especially in a music appreciation class. Once a student has had the opportunity to hear the music in addition to watching the performance, a mental picture is formed that can be replayed in the mind when the audio portion is again heard, or when studying the score. The one downfall I find for myself is that being tied to the computer in order to watch an online video can be distasteful after a long day sitting at a computer at work. I would rather have the ability to download just an audio version of the music to my iPod and form my own mental image based on how the music made me feel. Just some thoughts…

  2. Doc says:

    Thanks Doreen for your feedback on this authentic learning innovation, especially how a more robust mental model formed from score viewing while listening to a performance might yield deeper understanding of music. And thanks for that great suggestion to provide an audio-only version where available to meet the preferences and/or needs of some learners.

  3. Christina says:

    Hi Doc,
    This is a great blog, I found it very interesting. I especially like how you have adopted tweets into your professional work. For some, twitter is one of the only resources used for news and updates, I know it is for me.

  4. Doc says:

    Hi Christina, Thanks for your feedback on the blog and its use with my teaching and consulting work. I hope that it provides an example of using social networking and social media for others to consider in their courses – in addition to providing a platform for presenting online music resources to use for learning activities in the music course.

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