Startups & Funding

Berkleemusic Joins Coursera Education Revolution With Free Online Music Classes

Coursera_logoHigher education is experiencing disruptive changes that are still very much in the early stages. Berkleemusic, the online division of Berklee College of Music, is joining in that disruption by offering a group of free music classes on Coursera, a company that also offers classes from such leading institutions as Columbia, Johns Hopkins and UC Berkeley. Though Berkleemusic's courses are introductory and do not beging till Spring of 2013, they will offer musicians a chance to check out something new and nonmusicians a chance to get started.

Coursera is an example of social entrepreneurship, a for-profit business designed to effect positive change in the world by leveraging the Internet. Initial course offerings tended to focus on math and science but liberal arts, fine arts and social science courses are also being added to the mix.

Introduction to Improvisation with Gary Burton

Though it's not a for-credit system, some courses, such as this course in Social Network Analysis that I'll be starting next week, do offer a certificate of completion. However, most students are likely to be taking courses not for a certificate but for an introduction to new areas, such as the music courses being offered by Berkleemusic.

Berkleemusic itself is not the first distance education initiative of Berklee College of Music. As noted in the announcement of Berkleemusic's involvement with Coursera by  Debbie Cavalier, Vice President of Online Learning and Continuing Education at Berklee:

"Berklee College of Music has always been at the forefront of distance learning…In the 1970s, there was the Berklee Correspondence course with lessons and assignments sent between students and faculty via US Mail. In 2002 we launched Berkleemusic, the first fully online music education program. And now, Berklee is a music pioneer in the MOOC [Massive Open Online Courses] space with our Coursera partnership."

Berklee also has a history of free offerings including class session via their YouTube channel. However the YouTube courses include an overt recruiting aspect for Berkleemusic. The courses on Coursera should be a bit more formal and less obviously a marketing tool.

Berkleemusic will start with four classes on Coursera:

Introduction to Improvisation with renowned jazz musician Gary Burton.

Introduction to Guitar with genre crossing guitarist Thaddeus Hogarth.

Introduction to Music Production with electronic music composer Loudon Stearns.

Songwriting with author and songwriter Pat Pattison.

These courses are free and enrollment is virtually unlimited. You can sign up now via each individual course page and you should get a reminder a few weeks before the course starts.

More: Press Coverage of Coursera

Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch) blogs about music crowdfunding at Crowdfunding For Musicians (@CrowdfundingM). To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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  1. I question whether your first statement can be read as true: “Higher education is experiencing disruptive changes that are still very much in the early stages.”
    Is this really ‘higher education’ or is it commercial education. The new world of ‘free’ is really the new world of high grossing advertising. As soon as my email is on their list I’m a customer and connected to their business model.
    Let’s reserve ‘higher education’ for students who actually attend and receive degrees.

  2. By higher education I mean Bachelors level and above whether taken as a single course or a complete program.
    Much of that is quite commercial and even the supposedly “noncommercial” colleges and universities deal with huge sums of money and pay administrators outlandish salaries. And calling colleges and universities with major sports programs “noncommercial” is laughable.
    I’m regularly called and emailed by colleges and universities I previously attended as part of their fundraising efforts unless I remove myself from their contact lists. In that way I’m connected to their business model.
    Business models by definition include “noncommercial” enterprises.
    Companies like Coursera fit the definition of disruption put forth by Clayton Christensen in The Innovator’s Dilemma.
    Sounds like you need more practice!

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