When most people go to the movies, they focus on the
visual image. But when Lawrence Leviton teaches Music 103, he helps students learn to
"listen to movies."
The course "Music in Film" traces the
evolution of film music from the honky-tonk piano accompaniment of silent film through
classically inspired music of the 30s to the present, including examination of jazz,
pop and Third World music in films.
Last year, using the WONDER distance learning
network, he taught the course at UW-Stout and is teaching it at UW-LaCrosse this semester.
WONDER allows Leviton to talk directly with students on other campuses and get live
feedback from them. In addition, the students get class material on the Internet
with a password that allows them to use materials on Levitons home page.
A grant in June allowed Leviton to spend time this
summer improving his home page and the course.
Since the course involves looking at movie clips and
listening to parts of sound tracks, Leviton has been known to carry LPs, videotapes, laser
discs and audiocassettes from his studio to a classroom on the second floor of the Fine
Arts Center. But when he began teaching the class in the WONDER classroom in the CPS
building, he faced the challenge of carrying this large volume of media several hundred
yards across the parking lot.
To shift to the distance education format, he has
used several technologies to create his Web page. He used "RealAudio" to
replace cassette tapes so that each student can listen to music samples on any computer on
campus. He has "burned" compact discs of music samples to replace the stacks of
records and tapes he used to carry to class. In addition, in order to communicate
with the students on other campuses, he uses technology available to all UWSP faculty
members, such as e-mail and public folders.
Using the technology grant, Leviton is beginning to
incorporate "video" onto the Web pages as well. His students can now see
video excerpts from the films on the course Web pages. Since the video samples use a
lot of disc space, he needed the grant money to expand his computers capacity.
Leviton envisions having courses widely available on
the Internet with a potential to reach hundreds of students at a time. He already has one
student enrolled in Music in Film who lives in Superior. "He is my beta case,"
Leviton says. By taking his examinations through the Internet, the student is helping
Leviton work out the bugs in a possible Web version of the course.