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Samford Arts Dean Has Classy Plans for Apple's Newest iPod

Posted on 2007-09-04 by Mary Wimberley  205-726-2922

Samford University School of Performing Arts dean Dr. Joseph Hopkins will pay close attention to Apple's expected announcement on Wednesday of its revamped iPod. He wants to be among the first in line when the newest iPod music and video player goes on sale.

Hopkins already knows how he will use its features to radically change the creation and delivery of learning resources in the Samford arts program. During the summer, he put the finishing touches on plans for an "iPod community" in the School of Performing Arts, which includes academic areas of music, theatre, dance and art.

Students and faculty will be linked by two new websites: one created for Samford by the new iTunes University and one being created by Samford graphic design students this semester.

"Students will be able to go to the site and see recent Samford performances, listening assignments, video podcasts of classes and lessons, and other instructional and learning downloads," said Hopkins.

Apple experts will provide training in podcasting and other creative uses of the iPod.

"Designing an iPod community challenges us to rethink what are the limits of the library, classroom and practice room," said Hopkins.

"We envision students reliving lessons in the practice rooms, hearing a recital they missed as they drive down the highway, or reviewing a lecture as they walk across campus. We are working to make learning more accessible."

Hopkins will purchase the iPods, podcasting and audio/video accessories, as well as the professional training, through the generosity of an estate gift which will support the full implementation of the iPod community.

"We too often forget that estate planning can be transforming. This gift is trendy and powerful," said Hopkins. "The generosity of this bequest is going to help Samford radically change the way faculty and students teach and learn."

Hopkins offers several examples of potential iPod use in the arts curriculum:

Dance---After the first day of choreography, a student has trouble remembering details of the class. He downloads a podcast of the rehearsal (posted on the iTunes U website), and returns to the studio with his iPod to review the instructor's directions. He can then learn the choreography by himself on the dance floor.

Music---A singer has a breakthrough in a voice lesson but cannot recreate that moment in the practice room. She downloads a podcast of the lesson, and notices that every time she sang the high notes she used a certain technique. With the iPod in the practice room, she relives the lesson daily for a week. When she goes to her next lesson, she delights her teacher with her mastery of the new technique.

Theatre---Using one of today's popular techniques in acting pedagogy, students read their parts and record them with the instructor offering suggestions and prompts along the way. Students can later return to the stage, or other locations, on their own and step through the staging, miming the actions of the recorded dialogue.

Faculty member---An opera history instructor is answering questions about Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro when a student notices similarities from a listening assignment in a prior class on Pergolesi's La serva padrona. The teacher is impressed that the student recognized the simile and easily finds the referenced excerpt on her iPod files from the previous class. The entire class is soon listening and perhaps watching the excerpt as they build on the student's discovery.

Samford School of Performing Arts claims more than 350 students majoring and minoring in art, graphic design, theatre, dance, music theatre, instrumental music (band and orchestra), church music, music education, theory, music history, vocal/choral music, piano, organ and composition. The school is also proud of its community outreach through its preparatory music program and Wright Fine Arts Center.

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