Free Class On The History of Rock? Yes, please.

The Andrews Sisters were pioneers in the harmonization of vocals to emulate the new sounds coming from Big Bands in the late 1930s to early 1940s. Thank you, free online education.

Call it a keeping myself occupied move on my part- I signed up for a Coursera course and am currently listening to the Andrews Sisters sing “Shoo Shoo Baby” (1938) on Grooveshark. But let me back up a second…

…so when I was working at Maryland, once a month I would shadow one of my Center’s social entrepreneurs in residence as they in turn advised students on ideas for new social enterprises (both for-profit and non-profit.) One in particular, my buddy Drew Bewick out of Treehouse Ventures in Northern Virginia, could not stop raving about this new website Coursera. Coursera, Drew told me a number of times, was a depot of 100% free online courses in every college subject imaginable from professors at universities all across the country. Free courses for now, which I suppose new ventures can get away with as long as they maintain the appropriate customer capture/adoption model.

So yesterday after finishing up my requisite “apply for 2 jobs, e-mail 3 people about apartments, research the Seattle job market, clean Grant’s kitchen” kind of day, I figured why not and visited the website.

It is awesome. Here is an article that goes over what it’s all about and why it won Best New Start-Up of 2012. There are currently 374 upcoming courses (free, this is all free) across all subject areas you could possibly imagine. They’re pretty straight-forward on this in their motto: “take the world’s best courses, online, for free.”

On-line education is not a new phenomenon, and the revenue generation opportunities for universities are certainly inviting. However, what Coursera is getting right and what other current for-profit “e”-degrees are missing the mark on is the attractiveness of BOTP consumer opportunities. I’ve got my own separate opinions about whether online degrees are providing the same education as traditional residential degrees, but if the focus is on the education and retention of knowledge in packaged courses rather than comprehensive curricula, Coursera’s all over it.

OK. So that said, yesterday I began a class on “History of Rock” taught by John Covach, who directs the music program at the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, which according to US News is the top music education  program in the country. Figured if there’s a free and accessible way to get versed in parts of the evolution of rock I am clueless about, why not do it? The course just started two days ago, feel free to join me, wouldn’t be hard to catch up. For now, I’m on Lecture 4 of the approximately ten 10-minute lectures that comprise Week 1, “Stars of Pop Music Before Rock And Roll (1920-1945.)” Just went through the trouble of putting together a GrooveShark playlist of the 20 songs mentioned in the lecture (because of music licensing issues, Covach will tell you the songs and the versions by year, but its up to you to find them on the internet. Which is not difficult.)

Anyways, check it. Or another course. It’s rad.

On an unrelated note, I’m off Facebook until I get a full-time job and a place to live, or publish Hurricane Camp Stories. I’ll try to revitalize LTD posting and I’ll be tweeting more often from @golivos if you want to keep tabs. Day 58- still Seattle.

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About g-mo

The day I was born, Michael Jackson's Thriller album was at the top of the Billboard 200. I've been trying my best to live up to that expectation ever since.
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2 Responses to Free Class On The History of Rock? Yes, please.

  1. Isabel says:

    The Boswell sisters were the true pioneers, check me out! thanks for the coursera recommendations and also the shouts to my alma mater!

  2. Isabel says:

    I meant check ’em out.

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