Introduction to Italian Opera MOOC

This fall, the staff at the Paddock Music Library have the pleasure of being included on the course development team for the Introduction to Italian Opera MOOC (massive open online course) taught by Steve Swayne. This post will take a close look at the MOOC-building process, starting with the planning of the course by the professor through the interaction of the teaching assistants with students.

Meet the Team:

The MOOC and the Library

Throughout the process, the Library’s role has grown to include many more duties than are usual with Dartmouth courses. As is the case with regular Dartmouth courses, the Library helps to locate, purchase, and prepare the content for access. However, the creation of this course has been unique in that the entire course team (faculty, instructional designer, media specialists, and librarians) have been involved in the planning, implementation, and review from the very beginning. Because the Opera MOOC has been a collaborative project, all team members not only offer their special skills but also support the work of one another through regular team consultation and stepping in when assistance is needed.

We asked instructor Steve Swayne to give us his perspective on the Library’s involvement in the creation of this course:

What has been unique about creating content for the MOOC as opposed to creating content for Dartmouth courses?

First of all, I had to rethink the order of the content. I usually begin my opera class with an introductory lecture about opera in the movies; that lecture usually takes two whole hours and uses a lot of film clips. After that, I start at the very beginning with Florence leading to Monteverdi. I felt I couldn’t start the MOOC that way, so I chose instead to look at one opera for an entire week—something I don’t do in my survey of opera—and then go back in time. It was a delight to talk about Le nozze di Figaro in this way, and I look forward to incorporating some of the first week of the MOOC into my residential course on opera.

How has your support from the Library been different in the planning of this course as opposed to your usual courses at Dartmouth?

I usually do all of my own bibliographic work when I’m teaching. I might go to a librarian for help in digitizing a resource, but I’m pretty good at tracking down materials I want to use for the course. It’s been a godsend to have Pat Fisken take over many of the bibliographic aspects of the MOOC. For example, we have what we call “baseball cards” for many of the significant persons involved in Italian opera. Pat compiled the information about their years of birth and death, their places where they worked, their best-known operas, and additional facts about their lives. She also located open source images for us to use here and elsewhere. What a relief not to have to do all that work on my own!

Do you think your support from the Library will change for your on-campus courses after the experience of working together on the MOOC? If so, how?

I wish I knew the answer to this question. One thing I imagine might occur is that Pat and other librarians will step up and make recommendations to me and to other faculty about ways they can assist us in providing additional materials for our teaching. But I have to say: the folks in Paddock have always been great in providing support for what I do.

Throughout the process of selecting recordings for the lectures, you have clearly been an advocate for using recordings that best exhibit the themes you touch on in the course. Have your views changed regarding the rigidity of copyright laws when it comes to using content for academic purposes? Do those views differ when it comes to using content in an on-campus course versus in a free online course?

I have tried to treat the content for the MOOC in the same way that I treat content for my residential courses. I understand the reflex of rights holders to want to license the distribution of their content. At the same time, I believe in the Fair Use Doctrine in copyright law, and I’ve long felt that we in academia have been afraid to exercise this doctrine to its fullest extent. In terms of this massive open online environment, I see an opportunity for rights holders to interest students in accessing and purchasing their content outside of the MOOC. I don’t see what I’m doing as a threat to their income stream. If anything, I feel I’m increasing their potential market, and I do hope that some of our students will elect to buy either access to streamed media or the physical media (CDs, DVDs) we use for examples.

The Course Development Process

processinfographicFirst, Steve writes and presents the lectures which are recorded by Daniel and Sawyer. Then, recordings are selected, digitized, cited, and embedded into the video lectures. David formats the recordings. Daniel and Sawyer edit the lectures into a series of approximately six minute clips and design graphics. They integrate the graphics and the digitized recordings into these smaller lectures. The smaller lectures are then sent to the entire team for review. The team shares their suggestions and changes are integrated into the final versions of the videos. Pat creates the citations as well as the content for a series of digital flash cards which students use to test their knowledge of operas, their composers, and new vocabulary. Memory compiles a list of online resources from which students can access the operas. Adam puts all of the lectures, assignments, announcements, and resources into the edX platform. Once the content is live, Susana, Adam, and Memory engage students through discussion posts and social media.

Course Resources

Once the lectures and excerpts have been integrated, resources for viewing full-length operas are found and made available to non-Dartmouth students. Dartmouth students have a number of reliable resources for viewing operas at their fingertips, including Alexander Street’s Video Library, the MetHD broadcasts, Met On Demand, the Naxos Video Library, and of course, our CDs and DVDs here in Paddock. One of our biggest challenges is helping the 6,000 (and growing!) students enrolled in the course who are not affiliated with the College to gain access to similar resources.

During Week Zero of the course, nicknamed the Course Overture, we provided non-Dartmouth students with a number of options for gaining access to opera. Some of the resources we recommend are free, including public libraries, Culturebox France, and the Opera Platform. Others, like memberships to Opera America and the Met On Demand require a fee. We are building a community of students who will be able not only to discuss the material we provide but who are also able to exchange resources beyond those the course team has recommended. Since the course has launched, we have found that most non-Dartmouth students are using YouTube to find full-length operas. The students often share their favorite productions via our recommender tool.

Student Engagement

In the most simple of explanations, MOOCs consist of a series of short video lectures streamed online. One staff member infamously asked the question, “What’s the difference between a MOOC and a PBS documentary?” When the OperaX team heard this question, it was met mostly with knowing laughter. Nothing against Ken Burns or Neil Degrasse Tyson, but MOOCs are light-years away from documentaries. The main difference lies in the engagement factor. The team has created assignments for the students, answered students’ questions during live office hours, and encouraged peer review. This MOOC breaks down the barrier between the lecture podium and the students in their desks. We aren’t just having students memorize facts. We are giving them a call to action. Listen to this opera once, listen to it twice, talk about it, go to a live performance of it, share a picture of you going to it, make a friend and take them to it, too!engagementengagement2

So, now that we’re pros, here’s your call to action:

1. Sign up for a MOOC at edX.org. It doesn’t even have to be our MOOC but hey, that would be great!

2. Learn something awesome about a subject you’re interested in. While you’re busy learning about something awesome, notice how you’re learning it.

3. Tell us about your experience in the comments section below!

The OperaX team strikes their best operatic pose at the course launch celebration.

Paddock Music Library’s Recent Renovation

Paddock After

 


 

Over winter break, Paddock Music Library’s lounge/media area received a much-needed renovation.

Paddock BeforeTo the right is our lounge as it was from 1986 to December 2014. The space was rather cramped and poorly lit with 16 small carrels (not in view here) and dated furniture. You can see, too, that our windows had wired glass that gave the place a more confined feeling.

We sent out a survey to students to ask what sort of improvements they wanted to see. We found that they wanted study tables, comfortable furniture, enhanced lighting, and laptop plug-ins.

In mid-December the contractors set to work on the initial destruction phase of renovation. We took out the arch, the knee walls, and the study carrels to open up the area.

DSC03247DSC03245

Then came new carpet and brighter paint for the walls and ceilings, as well as much appreciated LED lighting. Warm gold and turquoise were certainly an improvement from the dated color scheme we had before.

In fact, we loved the new colors so much that we had the whole front section of the library repainted as well. The gold paint has offered our circulation area a touch of sun in this underground space.

The completed new area now includes:

  • a large study table wired for Ethernet ports and outlets
  • a journal display shelf adorned above with posters that complement the colors of the space
  • spacious study carrels with adequate lighting and a listening station
  • comfortable lounge chairs surrounding a coffee table

The room was nearly complete by mid-January. We needed to wait until the first week of February to receive all of the furniture.

Students WorkingStudents certainly appreciate the improvements—we have seen an uptick of students using the newly renovated study space.

Welcome to Jenny Lind

In 1850, P. T. Barnum coaxed thirty-year-old Jenny Lind out of retirement for a grand tour of the United States. That tour, which earned Lind over $350,000, caused a popular sensation and exposed the potential force of the burgeoning American mass market. It also generated its share of souvenirs for her adoring public. Besides dozens of pieces of sheet music bearing her likeness, we also have a framed Daguerreotype of the Swedish songstress with a ticket to the June 20th, 1851, concert.

Even the abolitionist singing group, the Hutchinson Family, tried to cash in on her fame with their “Welcome to Jenny Lind.” Sung “on the occasion of her visit to America,” it was quickly issued as sheet music (Boston: Oliver Ditson, 1850).

To see the Daguerreotype and ticket, ask for Iconography 292. To see “Welcome Jenny Lind,” ask for Sheet Music HF 73.

Paddock Music Library’s Online Resources

Dartmouth College Library provides a number of music-related online resources, including streaming audio and video as well as electronic scores and reference material, all of which can be accessed via the Library Catalog.

classical music libraryThe Library subscribes to five streaming audio databases: Database of Recorded American Music (DRAM), Smithsonian Global Sound, Classical Music Library, Naxos Music Library, and Jazz Music Library. Within these databases you can create playlists and listen to music at your computer and on your smartphones.

Classical Music Library and Naxos Music Library each contain a continually growing collection of recordings from the world’s greatest classical labels. The collection covers work from all major genres and time periods from medieval to contempdramorary.  Jazz Music Library is the largest and most comprehensive collection of streaming jazz recordings available online. It includes recordings from legendary jazz labels, such as Verve and Impulse, and artists from the earliest beginnings of jazz to modern day performers, such as Diana Krall and Buddy Guy. DRAM is a database of sound recordings, original liner notes, and essays documenting American music from independent record labels and archives.

smithsonianSmithsonian Global Sound is a virtual encyclopedia of the world’s musical and aural traditions. This collection includes over 42,000 individual tracks of music, spoken word, and natural and human-made sounds from all over the world. Every two weeks, Alexander Street Press and Smithsonian Folkways Recordings offer a free music download from Smithsonian Global Sound and Classical Music Library. All tracks are owned by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings or Alexander Street Press and are available, free of charge, for a limited time. You can sign up to receive an email notification every time a new download is available.

The library also provides two streaming video resources. Dance in Video contains footage of 20th century performances of many genres—jazz, contemporary, ballet, and improvisational to name a few— as well as instructional videos. Opera in Video provides over 500 hours of footage from nearly 300 operatic works, including staged productions as well as interviews and documentaries.

In addition to streaming content, the Library provides online access to several music-related print resources. The Classical Scores Library contains more than 30,000 works that can be viewed on your smartphone or tablet. The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music Online and Groves Dictionary of Music Online supply an incredible store of reference information about almost any music subject.

They Played Here?!

In May 1964, the Ronettes came to Dartmouth on a package tour with Soul Sister, Carl Holmes, and King Curtis to play Green Key weekend. It was a particularly good couple of years for popular music on campus. Johnny Cash was here in February 1964 to shoot an episode of Hootenanny, and Peter, Paul and Mary played Dartmouth’s Leverone Field House in 1965.

We just mounted an exhibit in the Baker Library Main Hall that looks back on pop music acts that played Dartmouth when they were in their prime. It features the likes of Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw (with Billie Holiday), Duke Ellington, Pete Seeger, Simon & Garfunkel, Ray Charles, Sly and the Family Stone, Cat Stevens, Bruce Springsteen, the Grateful Dead, Labelle, the Clash, and the Bangles among others.

As we were putting the finishing touches on the exhibit a little miracle occurred.  We leaned that Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary was going to be on campus to participate in Baccalaureate with his wife Elizabeth. They graciously took some time after the ceremony on Saturday to walk through the exhibit with us. Here is Noel in front of the “folk” case with a poster from the 1965 concert.

The exhibit will run through August 31, 2014–so come in and take a look.

Greetings From Paddock Music Library!

Located on the lower level of the Hopkins Center for the Arts, Paddock Music Library houses more than 70,000 printed volumes—including books, music scores, and serial volumes—as well as over 28,000 sound recordings (CDs and LPs) and over 1,500 video recordings.  The music library also provides the Dartmouth community with access to over 300 music journal titles, Finale and Sibelius composition software, and several electronic databases with many thousands more sound recordings and scores.

Paddock has a research cPaddock_LPollection that represents a wide variety of genres. In addition to Western art music, the holdings include jazz, folk, electronic, and popular music, as well as the music of a diverse array of cultures and religious groups.

The music library’s resources are valuable to the music major and casual music listener alike, to solo musicians, a cappella and choral groups, and performance ensembles of all sorts.  Dartmouth has over 200 students participating in Hopkins Center ensembles; and, according to a recent survey conducted by the Hop ensemble director, about 25% of Dartmouth students have had instrumental training. We see many of these students here in Paddock looking for music scores and invite those of you who haven’t made it here yet to come by.

april 2014 postThe Hopkins Center hosts an eclectic mix of live performances every term, and you can find scores, recordings, and books relevant to these shows here in Paddock. Visit Paddock to take out an album by the brilliant vocalist Bobby McFerrin who just recently performed in Spaulding Auditorium. Or listen to a recording of Gabriela Montero’s improvisations on classical themes before she plays here on April 16. Check out the score of Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring, which the Dartmouth Symphony Orchestra will be performing in their Spring concert. Look over the libretto to Così Fan Tutte before viewing the opera live from the Met in the Black Family Visual Art Center’s Loew Auditorium. Or read about Mozart’s “Mass in C minor,” which the Handel Society will perform in May. The options are endless.

Bohemian Gravity

This video has been making the rounds on the internet recently and it’s definitely worth watching!

A Capella Science – Bohemian Gravity!

Has this inspired you to do something creative with your field? Then check out the following resources on campus: