Berklee Blogs

First-hand accounts of the Berklee experience

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Blended Learning Student Experience

Online and blended courses are a new experience for a lot of students here at Berklee. Check out the following interview to gain perspective from a fellow student, Rachel Sumner. She took the blended classes Basic Keyboard Techniques I and II and shares her thoughts on the experience.

rachel's-profile-2Rachel Sumner is a 7th semester Professional Music major. She has worked for the PULSE Music Method as a workstudy for more than 2 years expanding the teacher training program and is currently interning in the Film Scoring department as music contractor for Berklee’s resident orchestra, the Scoring Sessions Program (SSP). Although flute is her principal instrument and composition is her concentrate in the Pro Music program, she is very active in the Boston bluegrass scene with her guitar and voice.

Digital Learning Department (DLD): How would you explain a blended course to someone?

Rachel Sumner (RS): A blended course is made of two parts. One part is physically being in class and the other part is going at your own speed, online and learning on your own. The online portion is all of your homework and all of the materials you don’t get in class. These are the things that you need to take a little more time with and go over. In the Keyboarding class I took, these materials included keyboard technique and learning the proper fingerings for scales. It was really efficient because the teacher didn’t have to teach each individual person. You could watch a video of someone doing the techniques and then practice it on your own.

DLD: What course did you take and when did you take it?

RS: I took ISKB 211 and 212, Basic Keyboard Techniques for non-piano majors. I took them Spring 2012 and Fall 2012, respectively.

DLD: How did you learn differently in this blended course as opposed to one in the classroom?

RS: There wasn’t too much of a difference. It was mostly the time-frame that was different. The teaching was still the same quality that you would get from one that was all in-class time. Each week you had to record yourself and listen to it before sending it to the teacher. It allowed you to make your own mistakes and discover them, which was really excellent. I think that is one of the best things you can do when it comes to learning music.

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Top 3 Tips for Teaching Online

This post was written by Ross Bresler, Professor, Liberal Arts. He is the course co-author and faculty for the online course, “LAHS-233 Themes and Variations in Western Art.”

I have taught “Themes and Variations in Western Art” successfully to on-campus students for two semesters and here are my proven tips for success:

  1. Make contact with students early and often. Students often have trouble organizing their time when taking an online course. It is easy to lose students who miss a few early assignments.
  2. Become human. Even if your class is fully online and not blended, do what you can to make yourself a real person and not a machine to your students. This can take the form of video chat, recorded video messages, photos, or setting out time for coffee with local students.
  3. Communicate to the individual and the group. Develop a weekly rhythm of individual comments sent to each student, as well as a weekly message to the group laying out the progress of the course such as where you have been, where you are, and where you are going. This establishes both a series of individual relationships and a sense of community.

You can read more posts on Digital Learning here:

One In Ten Thousand Can Make A Difference

This post was written by Sharon Lynch, Director of Media Development for the Digital Learning Department.

“The power of a single idea, acted upon, can change people’s lives.” -Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS

That was the theme of the 2013 Massachusetts Conference for Women in Boston.
10,000 women, including several Berklee staff members, and a few brave men, like Mycoskie, attended and spoke at this record-breaking event. The conference featured nationally recognized speakers who shared wisdom and expertise on a wide range of personal and professional development topics, helping attendees find clarity on their goals and what is needed to accomplish them. Its tagline was “Power of Us.”

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Writing Tips from the Trenches

blogcoverThis post was written by Kathleen Howland, who teaches in the Music Therapy Department, with a specialty in music and cognition. She is a licensed speech language pathologist and holds a Ph.D. from University of South Carolina. She maintains a busy music therapy practice, and is an active music therapist, and performs regularly on baritone saxophone and clarinet. She is in the process of writing several online courses for the forthcoming Music Therapy masters program at Berklee. She shares her thoughts on writing here.

When I was first assigned to write online courses for my department, I needed to first build capacity to do this. I had the ability, but not the know-how. These tips are to help you think through and prepare for your process. Perhaps my learning curve will be your tailwind in writing efficiently and producing the best course you can.

First Steps.
Taking the online course that our Faculty Learning Community (FLC) has written is an important first step in looking at your capacity, desire and drive to meet the writing demands. Writing an online course is a hybrid between brick-and-mortar teaching and writing a book. It is also unlike teaching in a traditional classroom or writing a book. You work at a very detailed level, which varies from the spontaneity of relationship-based teaching. You write in a style that is unlike a textbook. It is a cross between informal speech and formal writing. That’s why going through the FLC course is key to your success. You have to get a sense of style and timing of online courses in order to write optimally.

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Online/Blended Course Development: What’s the Process?

colorful_pattern_backgroundThe following post was written by Susan Gedutis Lindsay, Associate Director for Instructional Design in the Department of Digital Learning.

When you have an idea for an online or blended course to be offered to on-campus students on Inside Berklee Courses, the first step is to propose your idea to the Curriculum Committee. The course goes through a two-part approval process. First, the Curriculum Committee gives it preliminary approval. Then, you will be enrolled in a short online course, “Introduction to Online Learning.” This course, written by a group of Berklee faculty through a Faculty Learning Community, will walk you through all the details of writing an online course.

It also gives you a chance to experience what it’s like to take an online course. You’ll watch videos, post in discussion forums, take various types of quizzes, learn from graphics, and get a preview of the kinds of media development that will be available to you in putting your course together. By the end of it, you will have completed a course overview, course outline, and a sample lesson.

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