Brian John is a Student Advisor at berkleemusic.com. He has a Bachelors in Piano Performance from Miami University of Ohio, and a Masters in Composition from Longy School of Music. Brian’s background is primarily in Classical music, but a 4 year stint in a home-grown jam band gives him a unique perspective on both genres. He continues to compose and perform for people across the US.
With our next term just around the corner, I thought I would take a moment to share a few ‘survival tips’ for jumping back into the learning environment.
Most of our students here at Berkleemusic are adults with active careers, whether in music or in another field. I was in the same boat as many of you not long ago. I experienced my ‘term of firsts’ last fall: my first online class, my first Berkleemusic class, and my first time back at school since attaining my degree. Through my experience, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to get the most out of these courses, so I thought I would share a few of them here.
1) Read early and often. As our veteran students know, and our new students will discover, there is a lot of material to absorb each week. Many students (myself included!) bolt through the lesson reading and get to the assignments as quickly as possible. While this may seem time-effective and efficient, you are really doing yourself (and your education) a disservice. I had this realization when I got to my first quiz at the end of my first week – I had read through the material, but I found that I had not absorbed nearly as much as I had hoped! Thus, I recommend reading the lessons at least twice: once before your major weekly assignment, and once after you have completed it. This will allow you to revisit the concepts you were introduced to with new insight, whether it was gained through your own assignment, or through viewing your fellow classmate’s assignments.
2) Be active within the course! Berkleemusic has designed these courses so that you don’t have to be online at any given point in time. However, it does not excuse you from being online! The network, and these courses, have been created with the intent that students will be learning as a community, and making connections within the learning environment. This is the purpose of having assignments viewable by every student within your specific course section. I know it’s sometimes intimidating to look at other assignments, and realize that perhaps others in the course have more experience and expertise than you. In my fist course, even in lesson one, I realized that most students had more experience, equipment, and knowledge than I. Use this to your advantage – ask questions, post feedback, or start a forum thread. Where else will you have the opportunity to learn not only from your instructor, but also from colleagues around the world?
3) Stay in touch. This applies to everyone within the Berkleemusic community. You can create contacts within the network, you can send a message to your instructor, and you can call your advisor. Instructors within our online courses are teaching because they enjoy sharing their knowledge with students around the world! They are there for you if you need clarification on an assignment, or on feedback that they have given. Take the time to get to know your instructors, as they are taking the time to get to know you and your work. Also, take advantage of your Berkleemusic Advisors! We are here as your resource, whether you have questions about technology, academic policies, or the next steps within your educational journey.
These are just a few techniques that I picked up during my first course, and I have been using them to survive and thrive ever since. I hope our new students find this helpful, and can’t wait to hear feedback from our veteran students as to what has worked for them! I look forward to working with you all this Summer, and participating with you as I continue my own academic journey.
Berkleemusic’s online summer term begins June 27, 2011.
Find out more at berkleemusic.com or contact a Student Advisor:
1-866-BERKLEE (USA) | +1 617 747 2146 (Intl) | firstname.lastname@example.org