Kadenze is my new home for learning about creative technology

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) made a big splash a few years ago with the launch of Coursera. If you’ve not heard this wacky term, a MOOC is an online course that is usually free or cheap, and involves a nearly unlimited number of students to take a class simultaneously. I’ve read of Coursera courses that have had tens of thousands of students. This creates an active community, and a low-pressure learning environment. Coursera is a platform hosting college courses from major universities on a wide variety of topics.

Kadenze is a relatively new MOOC platform that focuses on creative technology. It was founded in part by professors at California Institute of the Arts and Princeton University (among others) who specialize in computer music. You can audit all of their classes for free, which allows you to watch lecture videos, read course materials, and participate in class discussions. To submit assignments and receive feedback, you can sign up for a premium account at $10/mo.

I’ve audited parts of four or five courses on Kadenze in the last year. The quality of the content and instruction is extremely high, and the topics are right up my alley. One small frustration is that there is no way to watch the videos offline. I often want to watch on my iPad while I’m in low-connectivity areas, and there’s currently no good way to do that.[1] Apart from that minor quibble, my experience has been great, and I would strongly urge anyone who has summer tech learning goals to check out their upcoming offerings, many of which focus on free, open-source software.

  • Introduction to Programming for Musicians and Digital Artists – This is a class by one of Kadenze’s founders, Ajay Kapur, on music programming language ChucK. The videos are a little hokey at times, but it’s a terrific starting class. One of these days, I’ll post a little about a project I’ve been working on in ChucK. It’s not quite ready for primetime just yet.
  • The Nature of Code – Dan Shiffman on creating visual programs in P5.js that mimic natural processes like flocking, schooling, and branching.
  • Programming Max: Structuring Interactive Software for Digital Arts – Not open yet, but I’m all about this. For those on team Pure Data, there’s a PD course scheduled for the end of this year with Sergi Jorda and the Notorious MSP himself.
  • Touring Modernism: From the French avant-garde to American Pop and Beyond – This one is a little bit not like the others, in that it’s a little more theoretical than applied, but the first unit of lecture videos that are available as I write this are stellar! Professor Lisa Wainwright of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago[2] is a really engaging lecturer, and she gets to use examples from right there at the Art Institute!

So if you’re like me and set unreasonable learning goals for the summer time, these courses are worth every penny of either the free or paid tiers. Kadenze is one of those rich resources that makes me want to quit all my jobs and responsibilities and just dive in to learning stuff really deeply and making wild and reckless creative decisions. If you’re making something with what you learn there, please share. I’d love to see.

  1. In fairness, this is not entirely Kadenze’s fault. While they provide the MOOC platform, they don’t own the content. Rather, they license it from the people and institutions who create it. I suppose this arrangement helps keep costs down, but I would definitely pay the $10/mo. if I could watch offline.  ↩
  2. …of Latter Day Saints, I suppose.  ↩