English · This & That

Cellphones, Education And You

Allen_20Johnston    Allen Johnston – The Music Specialist

Traveling internationally has opened my eyes and mind to the opportunities available for people of color worldwide.  In particular are the opportunities available for African-American musicians and multi-media creators worldwide. What I have found is that EVEYONE aspires to have the American notoriety and success that is witnessed in the magazines, movies, and videos worldwide.  People want to “BE LIKE MIKE” worldwide and Mike is the African-American celebrity.

As you know I am a proponent of education and I truly believe that African-Americans have a commitment to help educate and protect Africans worldwide. Let’s talk about the state of the Black music business within the United Sates today. Discretionary income controlled by African-Americans rose to more than $20 billon last year.  Even though this seems like a humongous amount of money it pales in comparison to the fact that Shell Oil posted profits in the UK alone of 13.6 Billion Pounds or $30 Billion dollars this year.  This is only one company in one country that significantly affects people of color worldwide.

Believe that this 30 Billion dollar profit will not be used to educate or protect people worldwide.  So the question to me becomes how we can effectively affect the education of people of color worldwide.  One way is the creation of music and multi-media projects that contain “Old-School” Values and Morals, never using filthy language, sexually based & tasteless innuendoes, sharp, ruthless or condemnatory statements or nonsense verbiage.  But having a message or under current that causes renewed thought, interest, incite or unrest within the hearts & souls of its listeners!

Accessibility and affordability are the key factors in being able to reach large masses of people worldwide.  The Internet is the medium of choice and opportunity to accomplish these goals.  For the developing world the Internet is going to be a wireless experience and delivery will be over cell phones.  Sixty one percent (61%) of the world’s 2.7 billion mobile phone users are in developing countries compared with ten percent (10%) of the world’s 1 billion Internet users.  This information is based on the International Telecommunication Union’s Regulatory and Market Environment Division head Susan Schorr’s report.  Africa accounts for more than half of the world’s poorest countries with people using low-cost cell phones rather than PC’s for connectivity.

India has a cell phone subscriber ship of over 226 million about nineteen percent (19%) of its total population with about 7 million new subscribers a month.  This is creating a decline in the cost of cell phone manufacturing making them more affordable and also creating unbundled services lowering the costs of phone service.   Approximately eighty five percent (85%) of all Indian cell phone contracts are prepaid, while in Africa shared cell phone services are taking off.

The Grameen Foundation has brought the Village Phone model to Africa.  People wanting to become stand alone mobile phone operators can take out micro loans, letting them buy Village Phone kits that include a cell phone, a rooftop antenna that picks up signals 25 kilometers away and a car battery or solar panel for recharging.  They setup shop in their homes, selling phone calls and mobile data transfer to other villagers.  Ultimately allowing the world to invade the “outback” and the opportunity to place information directly with the people that need it the most.

Cellphone based Internet delivery bypasses the governmental media controls and is a viable alternative information source.  Just recently there was great unrest in Kenya and the Kenyan government imposed a blackout of ALL news sources.  Resourceful Kenyans started text messaging information to the Mashada website and got the world to see the problems while being able to maintain contact with different villages and families.

As a producer, writer, musician, film maker, artist or educator this now opens up an entirely new avenue to get your projects, products and ideas to an interested world market.   Cellphones and other wireless devices will continue to get more people connected to the Internet or at least give them access to a wealth of information, knowledge and communications capabilities that previously were out of reach.

The only thing missing is you and what you have to share with the world.


Interview with Debbie Cavalier, Vice President Online Learning & Continuing Education/CEO Berklee Online,

Debbie Cavalier Berklee Online CEO

Please tell us about Berklee Online, its history and its mission.

For over 65 years, Berklee College of Music has evolved to support its belief that the best way to prepare students for careers in music is through the study and practice of contemporary music. With a diverse student body representing over 130 countries and a music industry “who’s who” of alumni and faculty that have received 229 Grammy Awards, Berklee is the world’s premier learning lab for the music of today – and tomorrow.

Berklee Online is the online continuing education division of Berklee College of Music, delivering access to Berklee’s acclaimed curriculum from anywhere in the world. Berklee Online’s award-winning online courses and multi-course certificate programs are accredited and taught by the college’s world-renowned faculty, providing lifelong learning opportunities to people interested in music and working in the music industry.

How does Berklee prepare their students for careers in music?

The mission of Berklee College of Music is to educate, train, and develop students to excel in music as a career. Developing the musicianship of all our students is the foundation of our curriculum. We believe that the lessons and qualities derived from that work—the self-discipline needed for excellence, the empathy required of music making and the openness and inquisitiveness essential to creativity—are critical to achievement in any pursuit, musical or otherwise; and that music is a powerful catalyst for personal growth, which is central to any collegiate experience.

Founded on jazz and popular music rooted in the African cultural diaspora, our comprehensive curriculum is distinctly contemporary in its content and approach, and embraces the principal musical movements of our time. Through a course of scholarly and practical learning experiences integrating performance and writing, our curriculum covers the variety of influential styles, relevant technologies, and career opportunities open to today’s music professional.

The Berklee College of Music is famous all over the world; is it also active outside of the U.S.?

Yes. Our online and on campus programs typically have a 30% international population. Berklee Online has documented students from more than 141 countries.

Berklee offers much more than just learning musical instruments. What makes Berklee so unique?

Berklee Online offers more than 200 New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)-accredited courses and certificate programs in the major areas of Music Business, Theory, Harmony, Ear Training, Arranging/Orchestration, Performance, Music Production, and Songwriting. In addition, Berklee Online has been acknowledged for quality, having been awarded the University and Professional Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) Award for Best Online Course at the college level for an unprecedented eight years in a row. In 2013, UPCEA offered a new award category for Excellence in Online Teaching, and Berklee Online  Production Instructor Loudon Stearns won this award.

When did Berklee start offering courses online?

Berklee has always been at the forefront of distance learning. In the 1960s, there was the Berklee Correspondence course with 26 lessons and assignments sent between students and faculty via US Mail. In 2002, Berklee Online was established as the first fully online music education program. Berklee Online currently teaches over 200 courses and multi-course certificate programs to 13,000 continuing education students per year. In the fall of 2014, Berklee will launch its first ever fully online degrees: Bachelor of Professional Studies in two majors initially, Music Business and Music Production.

What are the benefits of studying with Berklee Online?

Online learning makes Berklee’s faculty and curriculum available to a much wider audience—especially people for whom coming to Boston for four years isn’t possible. Students can stay in the home they live in, in the country they live in, in the job they’re in, and learn at a time that’s convenient for them. Whatever their life circumstances are, this allows them more control over their education.  These benefits extend to the faculty as well. Last spring, Berklee Online Jazz Improvisation instructor, Gary Burton was touring with Chick Corea and was able to to teach his online course from all over Europe, week after week.

Proponents of online education say that today’s students have developed the social skills necessary to form meaningful communities online. Berklee Online Music Business Instructor, Mike King says, “I’ve found that the students often form lasting bonds. In fact, the Internet marketing company Passion Fire Media was formed after its founders, Daniel McCormick and Steve Lenard, met in a Berklee Online class.

Is it possible to combine courses at the physical college with the online courses?

There are all kinds of models out there where classrooms are flipped, blended, or fully online. Berklee Online is the online continuing education division of Berklee College of Music. If a Berklee Online student wanted to take courses—online or face-to-face—at the Boston campus, he or she would have to apply and be accepted to the college. Specifics about transferrable courses can be found on the Berklee.edu Web site.

What training methods or study aids do you use? Can the high standard for which Berklee College of Music is renowned also be achieved online? Do you use different audio-visual material or video content?

Berklee Online spent the past eleven years developing courses and refining educational software tools that deliver the Berklee Continuing Education curriculum online.

The scope and learning outcomes for our online courses are all very much the same as a traditional face-to-face environment, but the path to get there is quite different. Berklee Online courses are media rich, filled with text, interactions, movies, audio files, etc. Over the course of 12 weeks, Berklee Online students work through the lesson material each week. They post questions, upload assignments, listen to and critique each other’s work, answer questions, interact with their instructor, receive feedback on their weekly assignments from their instructor, and participate in a weekly class meeting online. The class community becomes a vibrant online learning environment with lots of communication and musical exchange. Students who are new to Berklee Online are often surprised by how much they learn, how rigorous the Berklee Online online courses are, and how connected they feel to their classmates and instructor throughout the 12-week term.

We’ve structured our online courses to address many different learning modalities. Text, audio, video, live chat, discussion board activities, interactions and hands-on projects are all provided throughout the lessons to help students gain knowledge through their preferred learning style.

Can you get a degree at Berklee Online and how does this work?

Berklee Online’s inaugural class for the new Bachelor of Professional Studies degree will matriculate in the fall of 2014. Applications will be accepted in the fall of 2013. Berklee Online will be offering two majors initially for the degree program: Music Business and Music Production. More information about our new online degree program can be found here: http://online.berklee.edu/degrees

What else does Berklee offer its students?

Berklee provides many options for students online as well as on campus in Boston and in Valencia, Spain. There are Bachelors and Masters programs, online certificate programs, summer programs, free MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) through Coursera and soon to be edX. We also have free lessons available through our Berklee Shares Web site. Below are some links to more information:

Berklee College of Music, Boston, US

Berklee College of Music, Valencia, Spain

Berklee Summer Programs

Berklee Online

SNHU/Berklee Music Business MBA


Berklee Shares

What are Berklee’s plans for the future?

To continue to expand the reach of the college and provide ever expanding music education opportunities to a global base of aspiring musicians.

by Sara Shirazi