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Musical Roots

Curriculum Design - Undergraduate Elective - Blended Learning

   About the Course

In 2019 the University Externado of Colombia was seeking to expand its

offering of special elective courses for advanced English speakers. I saw

this as a perfect opportunity to combine several of my passions and skills,

so I proposed, designed and went on to teach this semester-long

ethnomusicology elective over four semesters. The course began with a focus on music, culture and history in Africa before following the enormous influence of African music and culture over time - via the transatlantic slave trade and myriad other factors - on much of the music we listen to today. Central to the course was helping learners explore the interplay between music and history, society, culture, race and geography. 

The course was first delivered in on-campus classroom format. Then, with the arrival of the pandemic, I transformed it for blended learning delivery, with the face-to-face component taught via Zoom, and course materials, activities, homework and assessments delivered via LMS. 

I designed the course to follow whole-of-course design principles, using the Backward Design framework to ensure alignment between all aspects of the course. I ensured topics, materials and assessments all helped learners follow a consistent, progressive, scaffolded learning pathway directed toward reaching clear learning outcomes. I also created rubrics to standardise assessments.


Additionally, I designed the learning materials and activities based around principles of andragogy and the self-determination theory, aiming to draw on learner's prior knowledge, provide real-world relevance, promote critical thinking, and satisfy learners' needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness. Learner autonomy in particular was an important feature of the course. I sought to promote individual autonomy by, for example, giving learners the opportunity to research topics that interested them, and encouraging learners to participate in meaningful decisions about activities and assessments. The course also incorporated plenty of activities based on social constructivism, whereby learners researched different topics and then took charge of teaching their peers about them in class. 

Finally, learners also kept journals over each semester, which promoted metacognitive reflection on their learning progress and helped them relate the subject matter we covered with their own lived experience, culture and interests.

Project Info





Theory &


Course Design - Blended Learning



Course / Materials / Assessment / Graphic / Instructional Design, Teaching

Backward Design, Andragogy, Social Constructivism, Self-determination theory, Bloom's Taxonomy

Examples from the Course

A 'getting to know you' activity using some great EdTech - Flipgrid. 

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An activity I designed for the course about a popular myth surrounding blues legend Robert Johnson. In the social constructivist tradition, the activity helps learners co-construct knowledge with peers.

Have a project in mind?

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