This paper describes the implementation and outcomes of a real world, foundational computer science curriculum for digitial artists to learn how introduction to programming. This course was applied to a dispersed, virtual pedagogical model through a massive open online course, or MOOC. The course was developed to augment a previous initiative for an experimental, transdisciplinary pedagogical model to teach computer science to novice programmers through music. Computer science fundamentals and proficiency in coding are taught to students through ChucK, an open source programming language for ‘on the fly’ musical composition and performance, and developed further with short, weekly composition assignments. In the MOOC, the real world model was applied through video lectures and online learning modules for self and peer assessment.

Test‑based assessments were developed to encourage students to master specific concepts. While the elements of the MOOC were developed to be used locally in a flipped classroom scenario, the outcomes of student learning within the MOOC were significant. Early results suggest the MOOC students outperformed the students who took a similar, concurrent foundational course in person. The MOOC’s open framework and reliance on peer assessment gave students increased opportunities to share their work, and in turn, view their peers’ contributions. This increased exposure to different strategies of coding and composition augmented the learning process. The MOOC classroom was decentralized, but individualized learning was augmented by peer‑to‑peer support. We believe that programming a key aspect of electronic art, and providing pedagogical techniques like this, we can disseminate key building block skills to artists world wide through free online education platforms.

  • Ajay Kapur, California Institute of the Arts, US, is currently the Director of the Music Technology program (MTIID) at the California Institute of the Arts, as well as the Associate Dean for Research and Development in Digital Arts. He received an Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in 2007 from University of Victoria combining computer science, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, music and psychology with a focus on intelligent music systems and media technology. Ajay graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and Computer Science from Princeton University in 2002. He has published over 80 technical papers and presented lectures across the world on music technology, human computer interface for artists, robotics for making sound and modern digital orchestras. His book ‘Digitizing North Indian Music,’ discusses how sensors, machine learning and robotics are used to extend and preserve traditional techniques of Indian Classical music.