Thursday, January 19, 2012

Students benefit from intensive music recording experience

I have written about the convergence of technology and specifically digital media in the past. I still feel very strongly that this convergence is being missed by many colleges and universities. We are still working in our silos for the most part. The students are seeing the opportunties for collaboration and are often "cherry picking" among digital media courses (credit and non-credit) to build a personal portfolio of skills.

This week our campus experimented with a short non-credit workshop focused on music recording. The whole process was explained and demonstrated by professional engineers. Students paid a small fee for the workshop, but got two 8 hour days of instruction. Keep in mind this was not a credit program, was not sponsored by the university, and was not required. Students signed up to become immersed in the music recording process for the fun of it. This is pretty unusual these days. It was also interesting that many of the students had also had credit courses in video production and other digital media areas.

You can learn more about the program at The Recording Experience web site. I stopped by the studio to see how this were going and found students standing for hours in the sound studio totally focused on what was being explained by the professionals. They spent day one working in the computer lab learning how Avid Pro Tools is used in recording and mastering music tracks. They spent day two learning how to mic instruments and voices, and doing the actual recording. A touring band provided the talent. The band members of Honor By August interacted with students and really got into the instructional nature of the sessions.

Johnnie Kearse, one of the students said " It was awesome man! I'm incredibly inspired after the last two days. Thanks again for having something like this. Makes me love what I wanna do with my life even more."

Th lesson for me is that the technology and exposure to practicing professionals can, and will, engage students at a high level. This is not to say that this can, or should, replace the role of teaching faculty. The "real life" interaction with professionals provides context for the student's education and is also motivating. Connections between what students learn and how they might use it after gaduation is often missed in some disciplines. I hope that colleges can learn leverage the overall excitment coming from students and alter the way they teach to inlcude hands-on immersive experiences like this one. You could feel the interest and excitment coming from the studio. Very cool.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Laptop prices at an all time low

While others might be looking to buy a large flat screen TV for the Super Bowl, I am thinking, "what is the one best thing for a colege student to buy going into the spring semester". January can be a great month for bargains, but this year it is amazing to see how laptop prices have dropped. You can buy a 15" laptop with 4GB of RAM and as much as 5000GB hard drive for well under $500. These incude the now expected webcam and microphone. Of course the latest 802.11n wirless is also included. Here are a few links to some of these great prices, but they are all over the web:

Toshiba 15" laptop for $399

HP 15" laptop for $418

Sony 15" laptop for $399

HP 14" laptop at $499

Acer Aspire 15" laptop at $483, with 500GB HD

All of these are probably just fine for a college student. I would check the warranty both from the seller and the manufacturer, but at this price the laptop has become a disposable item. I always recommend backing up your critical data to a cloud service like dropbox . There are many free services now that giveyou 3 to 20GB of free cloud storage. Also, always check the weight on the laptop. Anything over 6.5 lbs can be a boulder to drag around. Lastly, DO NOT BUY THE VISTA OPERATING SYSTEM. Some of the lower pricesd units include Vista.

I know that this is the new era of multiple devices. After Christmas we are alrady seeing the new iPad, the new Smartphone, and the new eReader. At these low laptop prices you can get almost everything you need in one box. Once you have your new laptop ask at your campus Helpdesk about low prices on software. Never buy software with your laptop! lamost all colleges have great deals on software.