Imagine if Steve Jobs had gone to music school

That was the lead in an article I read in yesterday’s USA Today titled, “Tech, music work in harmony in new college programs.” A couple of featured university initiatives included a blend of music production, entrepreneurship, and computer science at the University of Southern California (funded by a $70 million donation by Jimmy Lovine and Dr. Dre) as well as Berklee College of Music’s new master’s program – Music Technology Innovation. The real highlight for me came from Langdon Crawford, an adviser and instructor for the Stenhardt School’s music technology program at New York University. The article illustrated the digital revolution’s impact on the recording industry, particularly the technology necessary to create and distribute music now. As a result, the value of a more traditional music degree has been questioned:

“I’ve taught myself several programs but that doesn’t solve the larger problem,” Crawford says. “It doesn’t teach you what to do and why to do it. To put it in the context of writing, many people think if they learn a tool they can learn music technology. But that’s like learning Microsoft Word and then believing you can write a novel”  (Karambelas, 2013, para. 17).

Great quote. I think it speaks to the sweet spot of academic technology. Students in my ED245 class consume technology and actively use technology tools on a daily basis, but they often struggle when you put those same tools within an academic context. They can view self-help tutorials online, but that doesn’t translate into the “what to do” and “why to do it” in the classroom (cue pedagogy and content knowledge). For that matter, their instructor sometimes doesn’t always have concrete examples to leverage or model for them. That’s okay for me, but it is seemingly an intimidating proposition for first year students. Arguably, though, this “uncomfortable” learning strategy is one way to spur innovation, curiosity, and exploration. It also contributes to the value of a student’s degree.


Karambelas, D. (2013, June 4). Tech, music work in harmony in new college programs. USA Today. Retrieved from