AES Audio Education Virtual Conference (July 22-44)

The Audio Engineering Society held their annual Audio Education Conference last week (July 22-24). Originally meant to be held in Nashville, the conference was held virtually with educators tuning from around the globe. There were 3 simultaneous Zoom Sessions holding talks, workshops and sessions featuring all kinds of audio topics.

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Session on Virtual Simulations

On Friday, we held presented our paper “Signal Flow Training with Virtual Simulations as a Co-Curricular Tool” which documented the ways educators implemented a new type of tool for audio education and its’ impact on learning. Virtual Console & Signal Flow Simulations are first of their kind.

Several educators who use a simulation like SoundcheckPro had dropped in to share their feedback:

  • Scott Metcaffe, John Hopkins University
  • Barbara Adams, Rowan University
  • Brian Heller – Minneapolis Technical College

The discussion were held around how they evaluated and implemented a tool like SoundcheckPro, the reaction of their students and other ways simulations can be more effective.

The paper on “Signal Flow Training with Virtual Simulations as a Co-Curricular Tool” is now available in the AES Library

Pedagogy for Programming

Day 2 had many great sessions, particularly, the Round Table for Audio Programming presented many areas that need improvement in order to better educator students on the subject. Personal experience teaching myself programming made me feel compelled to share what information I can with educators who I believe are doing magnificent job teaching programming. However, the areas to improve are solely to lower the barrier of entry for students and to build their confidence to carry forward

Where to teach basic signal processing?

There are many options but the most conventional environment would be Matlab. Though this is a mathematicians software, it’s been seen as the standard for teaching DSP. Why I think this is not the best approach? The majority of Audio engineers are not math focused. They rather need to learn basic scripting in an environment that offers other means of interaction than restricted to audio coding. Unity or Max/Msp are my two recommendations. These environments promote other qualities such as collaboration and standalone development.

Scripting vs Programming

When it comes to teaching someone about the basic ideas of programming, there is little reason to confuse the attitude of learning based on whether there is a difference of scripting and programming. They both have variables, they both functions and they both can demonstrate DSP.

When it comes to the very basics of the subject, they both are the same thing. It is recommended not to confuse the student with terminology at such an early stage. We should be promoting confidence.

Promote Confidence

All the points have one thing in common: lower the barrier of entry. That means the topics demonstrated should be in areas that promote confidence in the learner so they dont become discouraged. Programming is a very tough subject and required confidence. This is why we don’t recommend Matlab, most of who we try to teach might not be into math more than they are trying to incorporate new experimental ideas that are derived from DSP and programming.

A game engine like Unity or Unreal will allow the students to learn DSP in an environment that they can also work on projects that can relate to the collaboration of other fields in gaming such as artwork. The doors must be open for the students to see where they can take these skills in audio programming that can be applied to all forms of programming.

This is something we plan to share more information via audio educator io.

The Idea of “Big Companies”

The keynote for the conference was presented by Mark Ethier, CEO of Izotope. He made several great points in his presentation such as how we generally sacrifice stereo for modern listening of mono…

“The days of ‘big companies’ are behind us”

This was a powerful statement coming from an individual who started a company out of college and raised millions of dollars to build an industry leading brand. He talked about how companies are not aiming to do everything internally. Basically, they are adopting “mean & lean” strategies and outsourcing when they need.

What does this mean for educators and students?

Depending how you interpret this statement from Mark, it reflects a humbling perspective that we should take of all companies. Being “BIG” is not that important rather it is to continue to deliver the core components of a service. Branding we have all seen to sometimes have very negative approaches whether it’s in overpricing products or educational decisions that can burden a persons career. That is something we should be educating students so they do not fall into marketing traps, for example.

We should not be so influenced by the idea of a big brand versus supportive a smaller brand that could be more committed to equally deliver the value. Obviously at SoundcheckPro we are 100% supportive of the idea of small companies whether software or schooling.

We have started an education for this exact purpose ~

One thing we disagree with Mark was his statement that “Educators are Entrepreneurs”. This is a dangerous and I’ve seen this abuse from educators throughout my 10 years involved in education. A teacher is and should always be a teacher in PRIORITY over being a businessman . It’s a massive conflict of interest when a teacher feels they may view other students as competition. I’ve personally seen this MANY times specifically over the last year. Unfortunately COVID and the lacking quality of education did not stop several “educators” from making obstacles for others that were able to provide while the big companies had nothing to offer.

Educators should be supporting entrepreneurs while they are on the job. Period. Especially those in education committees or societal organizations, that should be simple but with this idea education is been being polluted by educators with self-interests. There are ways for educators to innovate without adopting more self interest than educational

If you have feedback on these subjects, please write us via the contact page

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