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Award Winner: 
Bruce Spitz
Music / Music Technology Professor
Shoreline Community College

When Shoreline moved from the Blackboard learning management system to Canvas in 2013, Bruce decided to take the opportunity to rebuild his classes from the ground up.  He successfully combined both an innovative and effective way to teach online music theory (Music Technology 241, 242, and 243 Pop and Commercial Music Theory I, II, and III) with thoughtful, purposeful design.

The first course in the series, MUSTC 241, focused on students training their ears and writing what they hear to recognize chords. A key feature of the design was daily audio quizzes as a way to practice ear training and encouraged his students to take the quizzes often for increased recognition.  Each quiz contained 15 to 20 audio files specific to that module and sometimes a video instruction with music examples and notation.  That is a lot of quizzes and a lot of music!  Quiz feedback was positive with students regularly retaking the daily quizzes to increase their mastery.  One of his students wrote mid quarter to say that she had been listening to the car radio and suddenly, could recognize the chord intervals!  His daily quizzes remained open for the subsequent quarters so students could go back and retake them for practice as often as they wished. 

To further enhance his online courses, Bruce recorded instructional videos in his home studio to illustrate how to write the music and to explain the content for each module.  In addition, Bruce recorded video tutorials on how to take the daily quizzes and embedded the videos in the quiz instructions.  He did the same for how to participate in discussions

However, Bruce was not finished in the recording studio.  Ever mindful of the increasing cost of education he wrote and recorded the music for the audio quizzes and his lectures and wrote his own textbook content for all three courses.  By embedding his own music files, he saved his students the expense of purchasing commercially available music.   By writing his own teaching materials, he was able to upload his chapters in PDF form throughout the Canvas modules.  Here again, his hard work and insightful vision, saved his students the expense of quarterly textbooks.

Bruce developed an amazing online series of affordable music classes that keep the students involved as they progress to writing and notating their own compositions. In the last course of the online series students submit (anonymously) a lyrics assignment and then the group votes for their favorite three. The students then write the music and perform one song as their capstone project. It is amazing to hear the same lyrics put to different music and performed by the students; a series of tiny desk concerts in a Canvas classroom!

Bruce received a plaque and paid travel expenses to the Assessment Teaching & Learning conference, where he could present on his award-winning teaching methods.