“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is most important.” – Bill Gates

CEP 811: Creating a MOOC through Backward Design

on July 22, 2014

Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are growing in popularity all over the world. These courses are free and can be completed by anyone who is interested. This week for CEP 811, I designed a MOOC that aligns with my own talents and interests.

In my Intro to Dance Performance and Appreciation course, my peers will master skills necessary for dance performance by learning the basics of dance, by recording their own choreography using video editing programs, and by submitting their performances through social media for peer critiques and feedback.

Course Topic: During this course, students will be learning about the foundations of dance – from counting music to creating choreography to performing in an attention-grabbing manner. These tasks will be completed through studying different types of music, learning basic dance vocabulary, recording choreography to be critiqued by peers, and by learning the “secrets” of a great performance.

Course Title: Intro to Dance Performance and Appreciation



This course is for people who love to dance and/or perform and are ready to take their passion to the next level.This course may be the perfect preparation for an audition, or it may be a place to simply improve choreography skills and dance knowledge.

Desired Outcomes:

When learners have completed this course, they will have choreographed and polished a one-minute audition video. Attention will be paid to musicality, dance vocabulary, and performance skills. Students will receive and respond positively to feedback given by peers. Corrections and critiques will then be graciously applied when given. And perhaps most importantly, students in this course will develop a better appreciation for dance.

Course Length: This is a 6-week course. Students should expect to spend about three to five hours per week on the assignments.


During this course students will learn through several different creations:

  • Jing screencast showing how to count a piece of music of the student’s choice
  • Informational “How-To” video that explains/executes basic dance vocabulary
  • Popplet that analyzes chosen piece of music for final performance (piece should be dissected into different nodes based on changes in music)
  • Google Hangout video critique of a classmate’s rough draft of final performance, focusing on performance technique, musicality, and overall appeal
  • Short paper that analyzes qualities of intriguing performers
  • One-minute audition video (edited using Popcorn Maker or iMovie)

Course Architecture:

The course is carefully organized to give students a mixture of instruction/exposure, practice, creation, and feedback each week. In this way, the course was designed this way with TPACK in mind: aligning content, pedagogy, and technological tools.


Week 1: Music in Dance – 

Learn/Explore: Students will learn to count music through listening to a variety of different types of pieces on YouTube. Dancers count music in sets of “8”, so the goal this week is to practice this method through exposure to different types of music. Selections will include:

Create: After the explore activity, students will select their own piece of music from YouTube and will practice counting the song. A screencast will be made that instructs viewers how to count the particular piece.

Share: Peers will meet via Google Hangouts to share their screencasts and to discuss what they learned during Week 1.

Week 2: Dance Vocabulary – 


Learn/Explore: This week, students will be learning basic dance vocabulary including: pirouette, chassé, 1st-5th positions, chainé, and grand jete. Instructional videos are listed below:

Create: Students will be required to film themselves executing these steps through an instructional “How-To” video. Videos may be edited using iMovie, Mozilla PopcornMaker, or another video editing tool.

Share: Videos will be posted on a class shared space for critique. At least 3 of the skills from this activity must be present in the final audition piece at the end of the course.

Week 3: Music Analysis – 

Learn/Explore/Create: A key component to every performance is music! During Week 3, students will select their piece for their audition performance. Songs will be cut down to one-minute in length using GarageBand or a similar music editing tool. Then, the shortened song will be broken down into smaller components (1st verse, chorus, instrumental section, etc.) and analyzed. Using Popplet, students will generate choreography ideas for each section. For example, the opening to a song might sound slow and dramatic, so on the Popplet node for the “intro” section, a student might write down choreography ideas such as “slow arm movements”, “do not look at audience”, “begin on floor; gradually get up”.

Share: Popplets and music links will be shared with peers via class ShareTracker.

Week 4: Rough Draft of Choreography –  

Learn/Explore/Create: Using feedback from Popplet activity, students will choreograph a rough draft of their audition routines. As noted in Week 2, at least 5 basic dance moves must be included in the piece. Students should build upon their skills from earlier lessons and remember their feedback while choreographing.

Share: Videos will be uploaded to YouTube, and links will be shared via a class ShareTracker. Each student will watch and critique at least three (3) peer videos. Feedback will be provided during a Google Hangout session.

Week 5: Studying Up! –

Learn: In Week 5, students will also be required to read Chapter 16 (Musical Theater in America) and Chapter 17 (Dance in the Movies) from No Fixed Points: Dance in the Twentieth Century by Nancy Reynolds and Malcolm McCormick (2003). These readings will help students gain a better appreciation for dance history, in addition to learning what “works” on stage and on the screen.

Explore: Students will watch at least three (3) performances from Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance” show. Required performances are listed below, but more may be explored if so desired.

Create: After viewing the SYTYCD performances, students will write a short paper (about 500 words) describing the qualities that an intriguing dancer possess.

Share: Papers will be written in Google Docs and posted on the class ShareTracker.

Week 6: Feedback– 

Learn/Explore/Create: During the final week, students will revise their routines based on peer feedback and knowledge gained throughout the course. Videos will be edited using iMovie, Mozilla Popcorn Maker, or a similar video editing tool.

Share: Routines will be uploaded to YouTube.

Connection to Learning Theory and Design:

The learning in this course is an example of what Carl Rogers identifies as experiential learning, which “addresses the needs and wants of the learner”. In experiential learning, the student is self-motivated and invested in the learning taking a place. The role of the educator is to facilitate the process through setting the appropriate climate, clarifying the focus, making resources available, and providing time to share feelings and experiences. This course is primarily driven by what the students bring to the table, with some scaffolding and information for guidance.

“Intro to Dance Performance and Appreciation” was created through the process of backward design, which focuses first on the desired outcome (preparing an audition-ready dance performance video), then acceptable evidence of learning (making corrections given by peers, applying feedback, correctly counting music, etc.), and last on the learning experiences that will allow the students to achieve the desired outcome (lesson on counting music, exploring different types of music, learning basic dance vocabulary, etc.) (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005, p. 17-18).

The Importance of Peer Feedback:

Peer review and feedback is essential to this course In fact, each week, the assigned activity requires to give and respond to peer feedback.Using Google Hangouts, the class ShareTracker, YouTube, and Google Docs, students will have the opportunity to share and discuss all of their work. Learning to accept criticism in crucial to a dancer, so students will have to learn to embrace the critiques.


Basic ballet positions for young dancers, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th (2011). Retrieved from

Count Music — Hear the Beat by Counting Sets of 8 (2011). Retrieved from

Culatta, R. (n.d.). Experiential Learning (Carl Rogers). Experiential Learning. Retrieved July 21, 2014, from

Group Performance: Top 20 Perform Again (2014). Retrieved from

How to Do the Chasse | Jazz Dance (2012). Retrieved from

How to Count Music in 8’s (2) | Tips for Beginner Dancers (2013). Retrieved from

How to Do Chaines Turns | Ballet Dance (2011). Retrieved from

How to Do a Grand Jete | Ballet Dance (2013). Retrieved from

Jason and Jeanine  – contemporary (So You Think You Can Dance) Choreographed by Travis Wall (2011). Retrieved from

Koehler, M. J., & Mishra, P. (2008). Introducing TPCK. In AACTE Committee on Innovation and Technology (Ed.), Handbook of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK) (pp. 3–29). New York: Routledge.

Learn How to Pirouette Video – (2009). Retrieved from

Reynolds, N. and McCormick, M. (2003). No fixed points: Dance in the twentieth century. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. pg. 674-743.

Swan Lake Ballet (Music) (2007). Retrieved from

Tanisha & Rudy: Top 18 Perform (2014). Retrieved from

Wiggins, G. and McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by Design, Expanded 2nd Edition. Prentice Hall. pg 13-33.

All images were used under the creative commons license:

Alexander, Stephanie (2014, July 22). Vogue. Flickr. Retrieved from

Jeff (2014, July 22). ‘In Old Vienna’ Leaps. Flickr. Retrieved from

Lee, Sara (2014, July 22). TPACK. Flickr. Retrieved from


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