Berkleemusic a Six-Time Winner

Danielle Dreilinger
July 12, 2010

Is there an online education Hall of Fame? For the sixth year in a row, the University Continuing Education Association has awarded Berkleemusic, Berklee's online extension school, its award for Best Online College Course of the year.

Not music course. Any course.

The winner this time was Music Production Analysis, led by Stephen Webber, a music production and engineering professor. Berkleemusic's past honorees are Orchestration, Concert Touring, Guitar Chords 101, Berklee Keyboard Method, and Getting Inside Harmony 1.

The college keeps winning precisely because it doesn't rest on its laurels, says Dave Kusek, vice president for Berklee Media. With the ever-increasing pace of change, it's imperative that Berkleemusic use the latest and greatest tools. Features include a preponderance of video as well as live music notation. Students can respond to assignments via audio—talking, singing, or playing guitar into their computers. The courses have programs such as ProTools, Ableton Live, and Reason built in.

In a statement, UCEA CEO/executive director Kay J. Kohl praised Music Production Analysis's engaging design and masterful construction as well as its "stunning" instructional videos.

It's not gadgetry for gadgetry's sake: "We're trying to make it more like you're right in the room," Kusek says. "It's great to win this award and everything, but the name of the game is trying to make it a really rich experience for the students."

And beyond outside awards, return patronage may be the best sign of success: "More than half the students now are taking multiple classes or . . . certificate programs," Kusek says.

One high-profile student announces his assignments online: bassist Stefan Lessard, who's on tour with the Dave Matthews Band. Though not all Berkleemusic students take center stage at Bonnaroo, Lessard's profile is pretty standard, Kusek says. Professionals, in the music field and beyond, can't pause for classes in Boston. The online options are "expanding our reach to a totally different segment" of the international population, Kusek says.

In Lessard's case, that means, as he recently tweeted, "Back to homework—not the easiest to edit music bouncing down the highways of the northeast, so happy to be in my hotel!"

Berkleemusic's summer term started June 28 with about 120 courses to choose from—including Music Production Analysis.