My student Mark had some great questions about the new courses area. Thanks Mark for asking these questions! Here are the answers and more information about our new Courses With Willie.
Q: Are there any hardware requirements for the courses beyond want is needed for the site (i.e. webcam)?
A: No, if you can see the lesson videos now, then you are good to go. A webcam will be necessary in order to record yourself. Joel put together a list of (3) cams. One of them only works with Mac OSX:
Q: Is there an actual class time where everyone will meet online at a specific time or is it just a weekly video that the class will watch?
A: I struggled with this one. To do group classes on a global schedule it would have been impossible to find a time that was good for everyone. I can just image me telling Val, "I need to be up at 3am to do a lesson." ;-)
So, I structured the classes so that they are pre-recorded lessons. However, this is the cool part. Students are encouraged to upload videos of themselves, or post questions on the lesson page. Later in the week I'll take a look at those questions and make a followup video. So, it is not real-time, yet the followup makes it so that everyone can participate when it is convenient for them.
Q: It seems like if a student gets sick or misses a class (or maybe even several classes) all lessons and materials will still be available
A: If you are sick one week, you can easily go back and watch the videos at a later time. The videos remain online for the duration of the class. As a bonus, you can also download the videos to your computer for offline use. This will not
use any download points.
Some other questions you might have...
Q: Are these lessons live?
A: No. The lessons are pre-recorded. To have the interaction, I ask that you upload videos of yourself so that I and other students can see what you are doing and give constructive criticism.
Q: Will these course videos be the same as the videos on the site right now?
A: No. These are new lessons
that are not available on the site. We may
offer these lessons as a DVD package in the future.
Q: I'm an intermediate player. The course seems easy to me. Is it still right for me?
A: I would still recommend the course to you, even if it seems easy, for two reasons. 1) Since there is interaction between you and I (through video uploads and written comments) I can respond back with videos that are more tailored to your level. 2) We all have 'holes' in our learning where we think we know something, but when presented with it in an alternate way, we see it differently. So, just because it is easy doesn't necessarily mean the you will not learn new techniques.
Q: I'm shy and can't handle other students 'rating' me or commenting on my playing.
A: This is extremely important
to me. Students will need to be on their best behavior to be a part of Courses With Willie. Any student who is leaving disparaging or derogatory comments will be warned, and if they continue, will have their membership and course registration canceled. I have zero interest
or tolerance for people who just want to bring others down (i.e. YouTube), so we will be watching this very closely.
Now, that was my "strong disclaimer." However, I can tell you that the students on this site are extremely helpful to one another (as evidenced through our forums) and would never present themselves in the manner above. But, if we had a student who wanted to go on a negative campaign, we will be here to put a stop to it immediately.
Courses With Willie Highlights:
We also have a few other neat things that we are going to try with this new courses area. We will be experimenting with 1/2 and 3/4 speed videos. So, you can watch the lesson 1/2 speed if you wish. This makes it much easier to grab everything that I am playing.
We will also have a quiz for each lesson. Taking this quiz is optional, but will be required if you want course credit.
The courses area will be "self contained" so there is a forum just for courses students, a special website and login (which can remain the same as your current login if you wish).
This new courses area has been designed from the ground up. Once we complete the course, we will be using this new design for our main membership area.
Registration will begin the first week of April
. There are MANY students who are interested in the courses area. Registration will be limited to 10-15 students. We are still working out the number of students, but I am leaning toward 15 to start.
Everyone who has filled out the form at http://www.courseswithwillie.com
will receive an email when registration is open. In that email will be a link to where they can purchase a tuition credit.
Each course costs a tuition credit. Buying tuition credits allow you to register for the class. We are having students buy credits rather than purchase the actual course because we will be expanding this area and offering more courses in the future, so the tuition credit system will allow a student to purchase a credit and choose the course they want to take once they have a chance to read the course description, etc... from within the site.
Why Courses With Willie?
I created the courses area to provide more focus and one-on-one attention to students. The courses will allow me to work more directly with students and help a small group achieve their goals. It will also allow this group to interact with one another in ways that have not yet been possible on the site.
I know that the courses are an additional cost, and in these economic times it might be difficult for students to pay anything extra. Rest assured, we factored all of this into our decision to offer these courses. Bear in mind though, this will be a lot of extra work on my end, so I needed to charge for my time. I know that most of my students will understand this and gladly pay for what is going to be a really cool learning experience. However, I mention it here so that there is no ambiguity as to why we are charging for the courses.