Distance learning platforms were developed, adjusted to the specific needs of musicians and put to use at the three Serbian academic institutions by March 2020 and the beginning of the COVID-19 induced lockdown.
As part of the preparation of the online courses (project activity WP3.4), at the Academy of Arts, University of Novi Sad (P2) a survey was conducted both in 2019 and 2020 on students’ and teachers’ attitude on distance learning (92 students and 58 teachers took part in the survey), with the results presented at LATIMPE online conference in May 2020.
The corona virus pandemic and measures it imposed on teaching and learning meant also the sudden and unavoidable transfer to online teaching and learning, pushing in that way some project activities forward time-wise, in comparison to the initial timeline (courses were to be implemented in third project year, September-December 2021). In consequence, preparation of online courses, teacher training for use of distance learning platforms, and implementation of first online courses were done simultaneously in Spring 2020 and to the great effect. Overall, three new and five modernized courses were implemented at the national music academic institutions the Faculty of Music, University of Arts in Belgrade (P1), the Academy of Arts, University of Novi Sad (P2) and the Faculty of Philology and Arts, University of Kragujevac (P3), with 70 students and 26 teachers involved. The new course Basics of digital literacy for musicians and modernized Concert practice were realized at P1, new Music education methods in digital environment and modernized courses Basics of music recording and production, Music Production, Dramaturgy of Sound and Creative digitization at P2, whereas at P3 the second semester Music in digital environment new course was completed in an online form.
The courses were realized during the lockdown of universities, using Moodle-based distance learning platforms developed at these national academic institutions, along with other communication applications and tools, such as Zoom platform, YouTube channels, Trello boards, Google Classroom, Google Meet, etc.
The implementation of updated Concert practice at P1 as an online BA course is particularly interesting case, in terms of how a course essentially relying on live performance was modernized in a different form to include elements of digital and entrepreneurial skills. Students learned how to write a review of a performance, how to self-record using mobile phone, how to position microphone to achieve the best effect, and so on, with the final outcome uploaded on Concert practice course YouTube channel.
Music Education Methods in Digital Environment, MA course introduced at P2, and implemented in an online form during the spring lockdown. The course was realized using both the distance learning platform and especially creatively relying on Trello board as a communication tool and a repository of documents, videos and presentations, as well as students work, so any teacher and student could follow the work on-line. An online introductory presentation is available online at the project YouTube channel.
Similarly, new course Basics of digital literacy for musicians (ODPM in Serbian), introduced at P1 at the bachelor study level, with an aim to enable music students to use the basic set of programs (for text and music samples editing, music database search, preparation of visual presentation, etc) essential for their professional work was realized using newly created YouTube channels, communication tools such as Skype and Zoom platform, and other. The teaching mode for each teaching unit was chosen in accordance with the subject, putting in that way to practice the theoretical explanations. The online practicum and teaching materials (developed within WP 3.3 and 3.4 project activities) was made available for students at the ODPM course YouTube channel.
The successful realization of these pilot online courses set the grounds for change of students’ and teachers’ attitude toward online learning and teaching and encouraging them for taking part in digital initiative in the field of music in greater numbers in future.