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K-State Today

March 5, 2012



Cora Cooper to talk music and technology at K-State tech showcase March 13

By Shalin Hai-Jew

Cora Cooper, music professor, will be one of three main speakers at the K-State technology showcase March 13

K-State’s free Teaching, Learning and Technology Showcase is from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 13, in the K-State Student Union Ballroom. All faculty, staff and administrators are welcome to attend. Pre-register at ksushowcase.wordpress.com/registration.

Cora Cooper, professor of music, will be one of the main speakers at the technology showcase March 13. She will present at 11:30 a.m.

What is the “Women in Music” course that you created for fully online delivery?

The course is a look at music, from medieval times to today, from the viewpoint of women’s contributions. In a traditional survey of western art music you’d get in an “Intro to Music” class, the composers would all be “DWEM’s”– dead white European males. In Women in Music, we focus on the women composers and performers of those periods, and then go on to look at women in world music, jazz, blues, country, rock and roll and popular music today. 

In addition, we explore issues of social expectations of women in all these times and eras and how they impacted women’s abilities to engage in music composition and performance. It’s a lot of fascinating material, covered in a survey format.

This was your first online course. Were you at all worried about how to create that in-depth learning experience wholly online?

Yes, mostly in terms of class discussion and exchange of ideas. However, I found the message-board assignments I used created a forum where everyone had to contribute, and we had some very lively exchanges! I was also worried about not being able to see my students’ faces as we covered the material, and to use that to gauge their understanding. Again, the assignments I structured made it pretty clear who was on top of the material, and who needed more explanation.

What were some of the strategies you used in creating that course?

I wanted to find ways to engage the students in the material, and the best ways I found to do that were through directed listening assignments, as well as the message board. For example, one assignment had them watch videos of Elvis Presley and Big Mama Thornton singing “You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog”, and then compare the effect that each performance had on their perception of the lyrics. (Do it for yourself: Watch Elvis’s performance and Big Mama’s performance on YouTube.)

The reactions were striking; many students commented that they always wondered why Elvis was singing about a dog, but suddenly after watching Big Mama Thornton they had a very different perception of the meaning!

Another strategy was to incite reactions to readings. One of the most spirited discussions we had came after I asked them to read a paper I’d presented entitled “The Babe-ification of Women in Music”. On the day I was going to post the discussion, I ran across some videos of a rising star in the violin world, Charlie Siem, known also for being a male model and who often performs in a tight white t-shirt and leather pants. I posed the question: have men finally achieved babeification parity with women? Definitely evoked some strong responses!

What were some helpful tools you found? Music resources? E-learning technologies?

I’ll save this for the presentation!

What will your presentation for the Teaching, Learning, and Technology Showcase titled “Music and Technology in the Classroom” cover?

I’ll split the time between talking about the challenges I faced in creating an online version of the class (such as finding a way to provide listening material that didn’t violate copyright, and testing them on the aural material online), and some handy tools I and my colleagues have found useful in teaching music. There are incredible resources available!