ASU partners with Pearson to expand online learning

October 12, 2010

Partnership will reach new students and enhance online student experience

ASU and Pearson announced an innovative partnership to develop new technology and management services to support ASU’s online students. The agreement will equip ASU with various capabilities designed to maximize learning outcomes through student engagement and retention, as well as increase overall course offerings. It will enable the university to reach potential students around the country who are not served by brick and mortar or other online institutions.

“When it comes to learning online, there is a direct correlation between quality services and student success,” said Philip Regier, executive vice provost and dean of ASU Online. “The reality is that learning online is very demanding and most students already have family and work responsibilities. The more support they receive, the better their learning outcomes and overall experience will be.”

“At Pearson, we’re committed to remaining at the leading edge of technological innovation and serving as a trusted adviser to today’s leading higher education institutions – this is evident in our new relationship with ASU,” said Matt Leavy, CEO of Pearson eCollege. “With ASU, not only are we establishing a solid technology foundation capable of scaling alongside their online program, we’re playing a critical role in managing the growth of their online programs, engaging potential students and helping to retain them once they are enrolled.”

Under the agreement, ASU faculty will continue to design and teach every online course as well as establish and enforce all instructional and academic policies. Pearson will provide: Pearson LearningStudio, its learning management system, for the delivery of ASU online programs; Academic Enterprise Reporting to monitor and analyze trends in student performance; and Learning Outcome Manager for tracking the achievement of learning objectives and goals.

In addition, Pearson will provide enrollment support services for ASU Online undergraduate programs, to include engagement, retention and student services. In that capacity, Pearson will employ prospect generation services that engage prospective students at every stage of the enrollment process. Pearson also will be responsible for ensuring that students remain engaged throughout the enrollment process.

Pearson LearningStudio serves more than 9 million students around the globe. The technology offers a personalized learning environment built on an advanced, scalable and dependable Software as a Service platform. For more information on Pearson LearningStudio, please visit" target="_blank"> Download Full Image

Britt Lewis

Communications Specialist, ASU Library

ASU's Early Music Chamber Choir – for those who love Renaissance music

October 12, 2010

October 21, 2010
7:30 p.m.

It’s the start of the Monday rehearsal for MUP 379/579. William Gorton, the director, asks the students to stand and stretch. Download Full Image

Then, there’s some warm-up singing and scales with “nonsense syllables” to get the singers to unify their vowel formation.

Next, since there’s a concert in the offing, and rehearsal time is dwindling, the ensemble retires to its favorite rehearsal site, a stairwell in ASU Gammage that has great acoustics.

Gorton cajoles the small ensemble both with praise and admonition.

“Drop the jaw a little more. Make the sounds more vertical,” he tells the sopranos.

“Was that solid, or a little weak?” he asks after a slightly sloppy phrase.

“Slide the notes,” he cajoles. “The voice has no frets.”

And thus goes the rehearsal of the Early Music Chamber Choir, which is one of the more unusual ensembles in the ASU School of Music in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts: it’s open to community members as well as students.

(Several other ensembles also accept community members, including the ASU Choral Union, African Drum Ensemble, Desert Gold Chorale at the Polytechnic campus.)

The Early Music Chamber Choir, which includes ASU staff member Kristen LaRue, will give a free performance at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 21, in Organ Hall on ASU’s Tempe campus.

The program of Renaissance sacred music, titled “Songs of Penitence and Praise,” will include works by Palestrina, Byrd, Josquin Desprez, and Monteverdi.

The chamber choir is open by audition only. Students sign up for one credit hour, while faculty, staff, and community members pay a $35 fee per semester. The membership currently stands at 15; the maximum for the choir is 20, according to Gorton, who is a doctoral student in choral conducting.

Though the members thoroughly enjoy singing in the choir, the ensemble was founded as a teaching tool last year by Catherine Saucier, who had the idea, and Gregory Gentry, both faculty members in the School of Music.

“Both Dr. Gentry and I are faculty sponsors and supervise the doctoral choral-conducting student who directs the ensemble each semester,” Saucier said. “The emphasis of the ensemble is pedagogical: choir members study a broad range of historical performance issues and resources while acquiring familiarity with a diverse repertory of early vocal works.”

Saucier said the ensemble gives at least one free, public performance in the Herberger School of Music each semester and participates in events sponsored by the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and the Phoenix Early Music Society.

Singers are chosen based on “voice quality, reading ability, and style sensitivity,” Gorton noted. “Our repertoire is rather specialized, so there is a particular sound and ability level I am looking for.

At the moment we are doing Renaissance (sacred) motets for the most part. We will prepare some holiday music to do around the concerts in December (casual pre-show participation), and in the spring we will probably do a number of madrigals or French chansons, and possibly a mass.”

LaRue said she first heard about the choir via a flyer posted in the Durham Language and Literature Building last fall, and immediately auditioned.

“I like singing in it because really, music is my first love,” she said. “Second, I need to sing for my mental health, and this is an on-campus group whose rehearsals I can easily fit into my schedule.

“Third, this is my absolute favorite kind of music – especially high-Renaissance motets and all kinds of chant.

“Fourth, I love the history of the medieval and Renaissance eras in Western Europe (my MA is in music history; I studied the life and songs of a 12th-century English saint). I think I mostly like it because of the spiritual element inherent in the music. It really does make a kind of magic, for listeners and performers alike.”

Alaya Kuntz, a doctoral student in English who is studying medieval women’s writings, learned about the choir on the School of Music website, and immediately auditioned.

“I love singing in EMCC because I find early sacred music to be absolutely transcendent. I enjoy being part of the beautiful texture of polyphony of some of the Renaissance sacred music we are working on, and I am grateful for the opportunity to sing with such a small, dedicated choir,” she said.

“When I first moved here to start my PhD a year and a few months ago, I was looking for a choir so I'd have something outside my field to participate in. I was thrilled to see that there was an early music small choir starting up just that semester (Fall 2009) for the first time.”