[Smt-talk] open access theory materials (forked from THEORY TEXTBOOKS)

Nicole Biamonte nbiamonte at aya.yale.edu
Thu Apr 26 14:24:47 PDT 2012

Just to clarify, I am not "unsure."  I too am dropping the textbook for
Theory 2, and moving to in-house materials, since they are cheaper, more
concise, and more customizable.

Regarding the length of examples, I think it's important to initially
present concepts with short examples that demonstrate a particular topic or
technique in a variety of contexts and styles (as Bob has described), and
then move on to looking at complete works.

All best,
Nicole Biamonte
McGill University
On Thu, Apr 26, 2012 at 3:59 PM, Christopher Antila <
christopher.antila at mail.mcgill.ca> wrote:

> On 04/26/2012 11:13 AM, Kris Shaffer wrote:
> > As I was writing my reply to the very interesting thread on theory
> > textbooks, my mind kept wandering off into issues of open access.
> > Perhaps some of you have seen the recent book /Hacking the
> > Academy/ (
> http://tuclst.blogspot.com/2011/09/hacking-academy-ebook-volume.html).
> > It both advocates for (in some articles) and exemplifies a publishing
> > model based on crowdsourcing and free, open access. Many of us have
> > generated concise, helpful materials for our students on different
> > topics. I wonder if more of us made those materials available on the
> > open web with a CC-BY license or something like it, and others set about
> > the work of collecting and grouping compatible materials, how course
> > materials might change for the better.
> >
> > As an example, a small group of theorists who are like-minded about core
> > topics and have complementary materials might pool their resources to
> > make a single combined website/ebook/printed volume that collects their
> > course materials in a more-or-less complete course package and offers
> > that package freely on the web to others who might use it.
> >
> > Or an individual or group could create an archival website (using Omeka,
> > for instance) to which many of us could submit modular resources, and
> > instructors could link to the specific resources they find most useful
> > on their course syllabus. If that archive also collected submissions of
> > syllabuses, other instructors could use one or more existing syllabuses
> > as starting points for their own.
> >
> > I'm wondering what others think about this as a possibility. I just get
> > excited about open source, open access, and communal sharing of
> > materials in general. However, I think that the size and cost of current
> > textbooks, their lag behind developments in theory and analysis, and
> > their gradual smoothing out of differences between different schools of
> > thought make a strong case for more open sharing of short, free,
> > quality, locally developed materials.
> >
> >
> >
> > Kris Shaffer, Ph.D.
> > Assistant Professor of Music Theory
> > Charleston Southern University
> > http://kris.shaffermusic.com
> > twitter: @krisshaffer
> In my lengthy one year of experience as a music theory teaching
> assistant, I have been thinking a lot about how students acquire and use
> resources. I was especially provoked by McGill's new theory curriculum
> (as described in Prof. Peter Schubert's recent article in "The Journal
> of Music Theory Pedagogy"), where the first term is spent without a
> textbook, and Prof. Nicole Biamonte is unsure of textbooks for the
> second term.
> This past term I had a sub-optimal solution. I realized my students
> weren't using their textbooks because most of them hadn't bothered to
> buy one (if a textbook costs $200+ and the professor provides handouts
> anyway, why bother buying the textbook when you can "share it?") I
> started to make worksheets by copying from other sources. I was able to
> choose activities based on what my students told me they needed practice
> with, but every week I started from scratch.
> If there were a website, as Kris Shaffer suggests, with freely available
> material, we could find or build the software to help "mix and match"
> instructions and exercises that we think are suitable for our students.
> Course instructors could assemble textbook-like instructions, then say
> to their TAs, "choose from these exercises," and together we could build
> a textbook/workbook combo that changes as the term goes on, adjusting to
> students' needs.
> This isn't to say that the current textbook model is useless. In my
> undergraduate degree, the professors used our text- and work-books in
> the same way, picking and choosing the chapters/sections/exercises they
> wished to use. We had one book for counterpoint and harmony, and another
> (contradictory one) for form. What I hope for is a university
> environment where this same thing happens electronically, where reliable
> teaching resources are freely available on the Internet, and our
> academic institutions recognize high-quality electronic publications as
> legitimate contributions to our field. Maybe it's a far-off place, but
> the question is "when," not "if" this will happen.
> The best part of this is that it would happen on the Internet. We can
> start today, and do it at no cost to us. We can assign licences that
> enforce perpetual openness. We can develop multiple solutions--no need
> to be like Wikipedia, with only one article per topic. And we can
> embrace contributions by everybody, whatever their academic pedigree.
> Yes, course instructors won't be able to "just use" the resource because
> they'll have to verify its quality and usefulness for their purposes...
> but how different is this from traditionally-published textbooks?
> As a final note: I'm a documentation writer for The Fedora Project,
> which produces free and open-source software. At the next conference, we
> are planning to write a new user guide by crowdsourcing. We'll have an
> automated tool break the document into small, pre-determined topics (one
> to five paragraphs), and ask every conference attendee to write just one
> of those sections. It would take about fifteen minutes per person, but
> at the end we hope to have a new book, and the software will
> automatically assemble it for us. Because The Fedora Project will
> release this software for free, we music theorists may be able to use it
> to write or revise a textbook per conference in the future.
> Christopher Antila, BMus.
> Graduate Teaching Assistant
> McGill University
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