Course Evaluation: MUSC 119

MUSC 119: Music Technology.

Course Description: This course covers a lot of ground; you go from learning about the physics of sound and parts of the ear to how microphones work and making a website.

Textbook use: This course uses a course packet written by the prof, costing $40 (the $40 also covers headshots, a software liscence, and probably other things that I can’t remember). You have to get it. It contains all of the lecture notes and assignments, and if you miss a lecture it has all of the material covered in it as well.

Homework: Typically, there are two assignments per week which must be handed in at the music office, not in class. There is also usually a quiz every two weeks or so. Honestly, they are not hard! There isn’t very much material on them and the questions are very predictable, so if you so much as read over your notes beforehand you’ll be fine. I overheard a lot of people beforehand being nervous and after quizzes sounding really upset, but really, there’s no need to! Just actually study a little bit!

Professor: This course is taught by Dr. Bob Pritchard, known to his students as Dr. Bob. He is very friendly and marks fairly, and likes to tease his students. He makes a good prof for this first year course as he really walks you through everything, gives reminders, etc. (Not to mention is “dad speeches.”)

Class format: Two lectures per week, and one tutorial.  He provides lecture notes and you fill them in as you follow along.

Additional comments: Material in this course can range from interesting to pretty boring, but it’s really not very hard. Just do some studying. Seriously, you’ll be fine. And you might even have fun.

Infographic on Social Media and Productivity

Another infographic I was asked to share, this time on social media and its impacts on productivity. Although I personally believe that social media does often severely impact productivity (hence my recent quitting of Facebook), I don’t feel this infographic does a good job of making such a point. (eg. the time people are now spending on social media… …did it used to be allocated to studying? Or other things?) But perhaps I’m wrong. What do you think?

Social Media At Work
Created by:

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To-Do List Apps

As many of you know, I use Remember The Milk as my to-do list. It transfers flawlessly to my phone, and I have it set up in a way that works for me. Honestly, I think I would be pretty lost without my to-do list.

For those of you who want to try out a to-do list, or for those of you who tried one in the past, but are worried about motivating yourself to actually do the stuff on the to-do list, here are two phone apps that may be interesting for you.

For iPhone users, check out EpicWin. For Android users, check out Task Hammer.

These apps function as a to-do list, but to help motivate you to actually get stuff done, they have turned it into a game. You get a character in these apps that to level up, you need to check off things of your to-do list. I personally haven’t tried either of them, but I have read good things! Let me know if any of you have tried either of them!

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Facebook Distracting You From Studying?

I know many of you are currently in the middle of studying for midterms. I also know that many of you who should be studying for midterms are instead stalking friends on Facebook, tweeting the latest gossip on Twitter, and reading blogs such as this. Ever wish you had the drive to just get down to studying? Perhaps technology, which so often distracts us in the first place, may have a solution. How about an application that will allow you to block those most distracting websites when you’re supposed to be studying? Hope this helps :) Happy studying!

Mac users, check out SelfControl.

Windows and Linux users, check out SelfRestraint.

(Thanks to Study Successful for sharing!)

The Motivation to Complete a MOOC

Previously, I mentioned several websites that offer free courses such as Coursera. A recent article in The Conversation examines MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and their reputations for having high drop-out rates. (I found this article through Rosie’s blog as she works on designing her MOOC.) Honestly, I never completed any of the MOOCs I enrolled in. My excuse for dropping out was simply that I never found a clear outline of what work needed to be completed when, of what quizzes were due when, etc. As a result, I often found myself behind in the lectures and readings, as well as missing quiz/assignment deadlines because they were never really communicated well. I can see what the article talks about, though–the lack of accountability doesn’t help stir up any motivation to complete a course. I can see how it would be especially difficult for somebody who isn’t already a student (especially someone who hasn’t been a student in a long time) to find motivation within themselves to keep up with the course demands.

If there’s one change I’d personally like to see in future MOOCs, it would be a syllabus released at the start of the course with a list of videos, readings, etc. that need to be completed by date X. This would have allowed me to plan sufficiently to keep up with the demands of the course. I’m glad to see several courses have added weekly time commitment estimates, but I still think a completed syllabus at the beginning would be especially useful.

For students who are having problems finding the motivation to keep up with the course material, I would suggest getting a group of friends together who are interested in doing a course (or meet people via the forums who live in the same area who would be interested in collaborative learning) and meet on a weekly basis (or bi-weekly, or whatever sounds best to the group) to discuss assignments, lecture material, etc. This would force group members to have gone through the material ahead of time, and I think could be a useful (albeit not flawless) source of accountability for people.

What do you guys think about MOOCs? Have you experienced any motivational problems in completing a course?

For Faster Reading

I’m posting this (by request) for Bridget and Kelvin. is a website that trains you to read faster. It does so by only revealing a couple of words at a time (which disappear again shortly after as the next words are revealed), forcing you to read at some speed that you set. It keeps track of your reading speed and helps motivate you to read faster over time.

It doesn’t give only random readings though–the neat thing about is that you can upload PDFs to have it train you on. You can also use the bookmarklet to have it train you on websites, news articles, blog posts, etc. Some people may even find it useful for getting through reading material for school or work!

Let me know what you think :)