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YSM's online course "Music and Social Action" begins Jan. 9

Sebastian Ruth

The third iteration of the Yale School of Music's popular Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), "Music and Social Action," begins on Monday, Jan. 9. Taught by Sebastian Ruth, YSM's visiting lecturer in community engagement, the course, which is offered on the Coursera platform, is designed to "explore the notion that the classical musician, the artist, is an important public figure with a critical role to play in society," according to the course description.

Melissa Thomas, an online course associate at Yale University's Center for Teaching and Learning, said, "Version three offers a more user-friendly and interactive experience." Among other changes that have been made to the course based on learner feedback, Thomas explained, "readings have been reorganized within the course so that they are interspersed within modules to create a more engaging experience." 

With regard to the peer-assessment element of the course, Thomas said, "changes have been designed to foster discussion among learners with less at stake for the final grade." A "community mentor," or teaching assistant, has been added to the course to help participants navigate the curriculum and how it's presented online. The mentor will engage with the learner community by moderating discussion threads, answering basic subject-matter questions, providing additional learning resources relevant to the subject such as articles and web links, and sharing information about Ruth's professional activities and upcoming virtual office hours.

Since February 2016, 6,593 have enrolled to take the online course. One review on the Coursera website reads, "Very interesting and informative for anyone interested in music as a vehicle for social justice. Provides the theoretical and academic background that is often missing from many peoples [sic] experiences with 'music for social justice' programming."

"The course materials give a valuable theoretical understanding and really inspired in me a new level of relationship with the arts. The ideas and experiences of philosophers, teachers, musicians, pedagogues, artists, writers, poets, and political figures through the history of [the] U.S.A helps to develop this concept of Music and Social action," another review reads.

The online course is free to audit. Participants can elect to pay to submit assignments for feedback and grades and earn a certificate of completion. Participants have until Jan. 13 to enroll. The next session will be offered at the end of January.