NovoEd offers music creativity online course

March 3, 2014, 12:51 a.m.

Fans of musicians like Josh Groban, Tegan and Sara and Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda will get a chance to learn directly from and interact with their idols next quarter through Creativity: Music to my Ears, a new free online course offered by the Stanford Technology Ventures Program (STVP).

The star-studded six-week course, which will use the online course platform NovoEd, will explore the value of creativity as expressed through music. Course instructor Tina Seelig Ph.D. ’85, STVP’s executive director, recalled an online version of her on-campus course on creativity meeting with great success and noted that Warner Music Group had approached Stanford about the possibility of collaboration with regards to evaluating the future of the music industry.

“The focus of this course will be on understanding the opportunities and challenges of the music industry,” Seelig said. “Students will practice reframing problems, challenging assumptions, connecting and combining ideas and working on creative teams.”

Celebrity content will be presented in pre-recorded interviews and live Google Hangouts through which students and stars can interact in real time. Seelig noted that the class will feature three individual assignments and one two-week group assignment.

Although Seelig declined to elaborate on the specific nature of the assignments, past assignments from non-music courses challenged teams to exercise their creative skills by finding the value hidden in a stick of chewing gum, loaf of bread or handful of rubber bands.

Stanford affiliates have a few special reasons to join the course. According to Seelig, entering the code “NerdNation2014” will allow Stanford students and alumni to connect with other Stanford affiliates. Additionally, according to STVP’s managing director Matt Harvey, the program has worked to set up possible internship opportunities with Warner Bros. Records for Stanford students who participate in the online course.

NovoEd itself has a strong Stanford connection. Created by associate professor of management science and engineering (MS&E) Amin Saberi and MS&E doctoral student Farnaz Ronaghi ’10 Ph.D. ’14, the platform distinguishes itself from other massive open online course (MOOC) platforms by an emphasis on interaction between students from around the world and on peer feedback.

From an initial offering that sought to facilitate a single online entrepreneurship course that would remain similar to an on-campus experience, the platform has since expanded to partner universities like Princeton. An individual course taught in Spanish about strategic decision making even enrolled 120,000 students at once.

“I think true learning happens only experientially and in the right social context, so our goal is to expand the scope of the courses that we are offering- right now we have partnered with sixteen institutions,” Saberi said. “Our goal is to change the way people learn online.”


Contact Skylar Cohen at skylarc ‘at’ stanford ‘dot’ edu.

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