Final Reflection Paper

Final Presentation

November 22

Thankfully, things seem to be progressing again with the development of materials for MUSC100L. My internship mentor (who is the content expert) is back in town and has been able to focus more of her time on getting me score commentary. I still feel quite a bit of pressure to play catch up this Thanksgiving break, but at least I have some material to work with. Since she is revising the course materials throughout this academic year, her main focus for this semester is the enhanced listening excerpts for Western Classical music, since they are the most score intensive.

This past week I experimented some with the School of Music streaming server. Ideally, we would like the course materials to stream, and not be able to be downloaded (at least not easily). This is so that we remain within the confines of the School of Music library’s license for the music that is included in the excerpts.

As I was instructed by our IT people, I created QuickTime ‘hinted’ movies. These ‘hinted’ movies contain extra information for the streaming servers as to how to form the stream. I created these right from with Camtasia, as it supports the standard QuickTime export box. I uploaded the file I created to the streaming server. I was able to play it from my laptop, but I was also able to download it. When I also tried the file from an iPad, and it was not able to play it.

To research the iPad question, I made a short Camtasia file and exported it 5 different ways:
  • Export
  • Advanced Export, Export to QuickTime Movie, No Streaming
  • Advanced Export, Export to QuickTime Movie, Hinted Streaming
  • Advanced Export, Export to QuickTime Movie, FastStart Streaming
  • Advanced Export, Export to MPEG-4, enabled streaming

By using DropBox, I could quickly check these on the iPad. (I keep my current classwork in my DropBox folder, for safekeeping and access from lots of devices). All of these would play on the iPad except the Hinted Streaming choice, which is what I was instructed to use. This file just says loading... forever! Argh!

Just to be sure it wasn’t something strange with DropBox, I verified the same results by uploading the different files to my own website (I cannot access the streaming server from home) and found the results the same. Obviously the ‘hinted’ file created by Camtasia does not work with the iPad. I’ll need to check the other files and see if they prevent download.

I also tried using QuickTime to create the files for streaming. I opened the Camtasia export that did not include streaming info in QuickTime player. Within QuickTime I selected the Save for Web... option. This prepares three different compressed versions of the original file, and a tiny reference movie. The way it is supposed to work, a user clicks on the reference movie, the server determines which file to stream (based on available bandwidth) and then starts the stream. This may be the better way to go, but it does add a layer of video compression, which reduces the image quality - so there's no free lunch.

I've contacted our IT people for their advice on streaming as well.

November 8

The past two weeks have been somewhat frustrating. My mentor and I have not been able to meet. Both she and the other course designer were preparing for a conference presentation and are now away at the conference. Because of this, I’ve not gotten all the score commentary that I need to complete the enhanced listening examples. Nor the material each excerpt needs to introduce it. I would like to have more of the course content implemented by this point.

Thankfully, while I am not the content expert on the project, I am not outside my element, either. In has been more than a few years for me since undergrad music history and analysis, but I have been able to supply some of the content myself. Hopefully this can speed things along as the course designers will be able to tweak examples and content rather than starting from scratch.

Even without all the score commentary, I have been able to do lots of work in Camtasia, which is what I am using to create the excerpts. Once I have the proper score in PDF form and the choice of music on CD, the workflow has been generally:
  • Rip the CD and export as MP3 using iTunes
  • Separate the scores into individual jpeg files using Preview
  • Import the jpegs and mp3 into Camtasia
  • Synchronize each page with the music
  • Add a title screen
  • Overlay commentary text, arrows, and circles

After committing to using Camtasia, I was a little disappointed with the limited set of markup tools. But I have been finding workarounds. Camtasia includes a few different arrow shapes, but they are grey. To make them red I have to insert and arrow, and then use the colorize effect onto of the arrow. Thankfully the new ‘red’ arrow can be copied and pasted as one unit. Camtasia also doesn’t have a simple circle or oval tool. So I created tiff files of red circles and ovals in EasyDraw and imported these into Camtasia.

It is rewarding to see some the tools I worked with in 603 and 703 being put to practical use!

October 25

Since the midterm report, there has been continued progress on several fronts:


One issue that I have been working to solve is where to host the enhanced listening examples. The USC Music librarian, Ana Dubnjakovic, was very helpful in explaining to my mentor and I what we could and could not do with materials with respect to copyright. It is clear that we need to be able to restrict access to the examples, so that makes something like YouTube difficult. However, the files are too large for BlackBoard. Thankfully, the School of Music has a streaming server with enough room and bandwidth to host. I’ve been communicating with out IT person to figure out the necessary export settings to make the files work easily with the streaming server.

Enhanced listening examples:

I’ve been working on completing the remainder of the Western classical music examples. This was somewhat hampered by Fall break, as it meant I was not able to meet with my mentor and the other course designer during these two weeks. We have begun using Google docs to share information, but the score commentary is easiest to discuss in person. I’ve also been working to update previously completed examples to the full-page format my mentor prefers.

Other course content:

Progress on the surrounding course content (introductory material and assessments) is slow coming. This material is being written by the course re-designers. Now that everyone is back from break, I will be gently pressuring them for more material.

October 11 - Midterm Report

September 27

Since the MUSC 100L course is being complete redesigned, determining the precise course content has been a major hurdle. Dr. Hubbert and Dr. Hara are still deciding what they want the course to achieve and what material should be covered. Honestly, the most difficult thing has been deciding what to leave out. We have to keep reminding ourselves of a few points:
  • this only a 1 credit course
  • this course is for entering music majors, who have not had three semesters of music history and 4 semesters of music theory

The short of it - much more must be left out than can stay in!

Though we have not decided on all the listening examples that will be used, I needed to begin building an example enhanced listening excerpt. I picked what will likely be one of the western music excerpts - J.S. Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565. Just about everyone (especially the target audience) knows the opening of this piece, but many have not listened thru the entire piece. It is also a great way to introduce the fugue form.

Deciding which tool to use to build the enhanced excerpts proved to be a bigger challenge than I expected. I needed to be able to synchronize images (PDFs of the score) with music, as well as display text at the appropriate time.

I originally assumed I would use Apple iMovie. I am very familiar with iMovie and quite adept at editing and manipulating media using it. iMovie makes it easy to zoom in on a portion of an image, and even scan across it - what is referred to as the ‘Ken Burns effect’ (named after the documentarian who popularized the technique). iMovie also has easy to use transitions, which allow me to make smooth page transitions. However, placing text in iMovie was more difficult. While iMovie has several different options for text (titles, subtitles, credits, etc.) all of them force the text into specific locations. I want to have more options for placing text next to the specific music it refers to.

I then tried using TechSmith’s Camtasia to create the enhanced excerpt. My EDET 703 group created a Camtasia tutorial (using Camtasia), so I had learned to use it for that course. Now it was time to put the tool into practice. While Camtasia is primarily though off as a screen capture tool, it also allows easy screen markup. Even though I couldn’t easily crossfade between pages, the editing went faster in Camtasia, so I stuck with it.

Along the way, I also learned that neither application worked well with PDFs, which is the format most of the musical scores can be found in. iMovie would not import them at all, and Camtasia created a short movie that ran thru the entire PDF in about 4 seconds! So it was back to Preview to export each page to a JPEG - one at a time. Thankfully, the Bach Toccata and Fugue was only 20 pages, but I may run into problems with longer orchestral scores. I may need to find an app to batch convert PDFs into JPEGs for the future.

All in all, the 9 minutes of the Bach piece took several hours to create. And I haven’t even added all the musical commentary yet. Argh! Hope the others go faster.

I also experimented some with export settings - trying to achieve a clear, readable screen without large file sizes. I’m pleased with the output, but not the sizes, yet. I’m also trying an upload to YouTube from Camtasia.

September 13

In retrospect, the first two weeks of the internship has embodied the Analysis stage of the ADDIE process - finding out the goals of the instruction I will assist in developing. Though quite an informal analysis, I looked at needs, the entry state of the learners, the content, and the goals.

I met with my mentor (Dr. Hubbert) who began by giving me a history of the MUSC 100L course itself. While the course was only added a few years ago, it has had a rocky road and has yet to find its niche. When it was developed, the School of Music (SoM faculty saw a need amongst SoM freshman for basic repertoire and critical listening skills. One credit hour was carved out of the already full curriculum of Music Majors for MUSC 100L. The first year implementation of the course saw a different faculty member teaching the class each week on individual topics from various disciplines. However, scheduling became difficult and the course lacked direction. Starting last year the course is taught using the same curriculum as MUSC 100 Music Appreciation - a course for non-music majors. The same graduate assistants teach the same material to music majors, but in one-third the amount of time.

The graduate assistants are not pleased with the direction of the course, and neither are students. I spoke with one of them, who expressed his frustration with trying to cram a 3 credit hour course into 1 hours time. He pointed out that this approach of ‘miles wide, but inches deep’ prevents them from getting deep into any material or facilitating any rich discussions. As I later looked while think of Bloom’s taxonomy, I could see how there was little if any higher cognitive skills being taxed or developed.

The facilitator for the course (Dr. Hara) joined Dr. Hubbert and I to brainstorm the development of the revised MUSC 100L course. The students entering are music majors, so a non-major music appreciation course is inappropriate for them. They come into the SoM having passed an audition, so they have obviously had extensive training on their instrument from private lessons and high school. The learners have likely had performance experience and basic music theory as well. Unlike a non-music major taking a music appreciation course, this will not be the only music course they take. They will have several semesters of music theory, music history, and analysis. What we determined these students need is critical thinking skills about music, its forms, its place in history, and how it relates to the world. Drs. Hubbert and Hara’s primary goal is foster these critical thinking skills. They don’t want to try to expose the students to hundreds of piece of music they should know, but rather have them look closely at several, perhaps a dozen, from different genres, cultures, and regions. We were careful to remember that this is a one credit course, so the workload and curriculum should reflect that.

We talked mainly about content but also brainstormed about the involvement of technology. We determined that each genre/stage of the course should have what I termed a ‘multimedia listening example.’ What that might entail is still to be determined, but for example, while listening to a piece of classical music, a student might view the score, and hear commentary about the music. Popular music might involve music videos, since often the visual is as important as the aural. World music might include videos of performances since there may be no formal notation. They referred me to the companion website for the current music appreciation text. While it had some impressive flash videos that did a good job at basic form and melody analysis, it was (as expected) aimed at non-music majors. But it may be a good launching point for ideas, so I know I’ll be looking at it in more depth in the coming days.

We also discussed possible means of assessment. Dr. Hubbert expressed a general dislike of online assessments, since they tend to be objective multiple choice type exams and don’t allow student to express critical thinking skills. We determined that each ‘multimedia listening example’ should be followed by an online formative assessment - both as a check that the example was actual viewed and to solidify the learning. There would also be other kinds of assessments that would require critical analysis skills and other higher cognitive levels.

Much work to be done.