As you may have already seen, this week is the start of another online enrollment cycle for Pyramind Training. This particular cycle marks our three year anniversary since launching our first pair of online classes in the summer of 2012, which were our first incarnations of Welcome to Logic and Welcome to Reason .
Since then, we’ve grown our small two-class offering into a full fledged online curriculum featuring 16 courses across 4 DAWs and multiple subjects. We’ve taken a close look at the similarities and differences between online learning and the traditional classroom setting by learning from our students before, during, and after their programs, and made adjustments to both programs.
Since the two styles of learning are, in fact, so different, it makes sense why some people have a preference for one or the other. In an online classroom it’s easy enough to pause the lecture and start over again if you need to. On the contrary, being in a physical space with your instructor and peers can have a big impact on your experience.
In an effort to help out our incoming class of online students (and anyone else considering online training) we’ve assembled 5 tips to help you succeed in an online class:
1. Remove distractions
There’s nothing that can make you lose your focus faster than pulling out your phone at the first sign of a push notification. Turn it off if you have to, and treat the experience like you would in a traditional classroom. Use a pen and paper or a simple Text Edit document to take notes and stay off other websites while you’re watching course videos (if you need help, there are browser extensions that will literally block specific sites for a set time). As the old saying goes, “you get out what you put in,” so be respectful of the learning process and you will be rewarded.
2. Mark your calendar
One of the great things about our online classes is being able to learn at your own schedule, whenever you want. That being said, if you just plan to do the work when you “feel like it” or “have free time” you may find the first few weeks of the course slip away from you before you can say “Collect All and Save.” Find a time in your weekly schedule that you can dedicate to the course and do your best to stick to it regularly. This also works well when you need an excuse to get out of other undesirable commitments… “Sorry I can’t help you with your alt-country DJ set, I’ve got class!”
3. Watch videos more than once
What do you think your instructor would say if you walked up to him at the end of a 3-hour lecture on FM Synthesis and said “Gee, Dave, that was great. Now can ya do it all again for me?” Well, if he taught the course online he wouldn’t need to say anything! All you’d have to do is hit that magic play button again until you, the student, become the master. We give our students 24/7 access to course videos for a full year after their enrollment, and we offer a unique free-retake policy for every class if you want a second shot at your projects and assignments. Take advantage of the technology!
4. Engage with your peers
A classroom is more than just you and the teacher. It’s a community of like-minded students who learn with each other as well as from each other. I often tell incoming students “you don’t know what you don’t know,” which basically means that guy in the class sitting next to you (virtually speaking) is probably going to ask some question you haven’t even thought of before. Our group forums are where most of these discussions take place in our online classes, as well as during live video webinars that serve as virtual “office hours” for students to ask questions on the spot. Find out what your other students are doing musically and try to collaborate on a project with at least one person throughout the course. You may end up finding the Lennon to your McCartney!
5. Ask questions
Without your instructor, an online class is nothing more than a series of video tutorials. Our teachers are experts in their field and they are the reason people from all over the world sign up for our online classes or move to San Francisco for in-person training (yes, 1/3 of our ground campus students are international). Take notes when you watch the course videos or you are working on assignments. Bookmark the discussion forums in your browser. Become best friends with your teachers. They are your musical mentors and they are here to help you.