Choosing a DAW for educational purposes

Discussion in 'Computing' started by moondog, Nov 2, 2005.

  1. moondog

    moondog Guest


    Let me begin by apologizing if you have come across this posting in more than one forum. I am casting a wide net in the hopes of taking advantage of as many varying groupings of expertise as I can.

    I hope you’ll bear with a bit of introduction before I get to my actual questions. I have been enlisted by a local college to help develop a course of study for an associate’s degree program in Audio Recording.

    The goal is for graduates of this program to be in a position to step into an entry level position in one of several areas of the industry or to be able to transfer into a 4 year degree program using the credits they earn with us.

    So far, the courses in this program can be divided into 3 groupings.

    1)Students will be required to take a certain number of general education courses.

    2)There will be core grouping of courses in recording. Included in the core courses will be classes covering the physics of sound, acoustics, basic and intermediate courses in recording and production, digital recording, MIDI, studio operations, and DAW recording/production.

    3)Students will be able to choose one of several concentrations, in which they can study a particular field in more depth. Examples of possibilities for concentrations are audio for video games, film/video post, broadcast, and emerging technologies (internet, ring tones, sound for toys, etc).

    Since this program is starting from scratch, my task includes developing the course curricula and “spec-ing” out the studios and equipment that will be used.

    My first set of questions involves choosing a DAW platform. It seems to me that once we’ve taught the basics that apply to recording regardless of medium or platform, we need to do some in-depth DAW work. Three questions then present themselves:

    1)“Which platform do we focus on?”
    2)“Do we focus on that platform exclusively or do we also offer overviews of other platforms?”
    3)“If we offer overviews of other programs, which ones?”

    At this point, my feeling is that, for better or worse, Pro Tools is nearly ubiquitous in the industry and we therefore need to make that our featured platform. What I’d want to do is supplement 2 courses in Pro Tools with a course that presents an overview of other programs. Some candidates that come to mind are Nuendo, Cubase, Reason, Sonar, Live, Sound Forge/Vegas, and Traktion. I’m sure there are others I’m forgetting.

    I’m open to any thoughts, suggestions, or other input you might be willing to offer about any of these issues. If you think of other issues that we should be taking into account, I would greatly appreciate hearing about them as well. Of course, I can provide more clarifying info if needed.

    Finally, is anyone aware of a forum specifically targeted to educators in the recording/production field? I’ve poked around a bit and didn’t find anything I recognized as fitting that description, but my search was by no means exhaustive.

    Thanks for your time and help,

    Hoby Ebert
  2. iznogood

    iznogood Member

    Feb 9, 2004
    1)“Which platform do we focus on?”

    as you already said yourself.... protools is the defacto standard in bigger studios..

    2)“Do we focus on that platform exclusively or do we also offer overviews of other platforms?”

    3)“If we offer overviews of other programs, which ones?”

    i think you have to give the kids some kind of look into some other things too.... live 5 is a good example... cubase/nuendo is another one

    and of course you have to choose between mac and pc...

    i do not want to start a flame war but i really have to recommend mac


    cause the kids probably have pc's at home for playing etc.
    and by having macs at school they won't "feel inspired" to install games/spyware/viruses etc.

    and regardless of what some might say it IS easier to maintain a mac.... as 99% of all viruses/spyware is written for windows...

    and the fast user switching in osx is second to none..... you can switch between user accounts in an instant.... really easy to restrict the students too.... so they don't mess up the system

    the new imac g5's comes into mind
  3. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Distinguished Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    Being both a Mac and PC user I think the industry standard for Audio programs is still the PC. I think that if you use only Macs in your educational setup that students are going to get use to a format that in not in as wide spread use in the professional arena. Having said that I also think having both platforms is a good idea. With the more and more widespread use of Final Cut Pro it maybe a good idea to have a couple of Macs around so people can get use to them. I am sorry to say that we had to switch away from Macs a couple of years ago when more and more audio programs were being written for the PC and less and less for the Mac. Execept for Pro Tools and Bias Peak there are no other DAW programs currently available for the MAC that are in wide use in professional circles for mastering or two track editing.

    A good firewall, good spyware removal programs and careful attention to what is being installed on the computers should keep them "safe" I would also suggest NOT having them on a network that has access to the outside WWW as this is a sure fire way of getting the PC infected.

  4. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    A good way to avoid spyware/viruses on your machines is simply not allow access to the WWW. You don't want to have excess programs slowing down your systems. If you must, set up an intranet but internet access isn't necessary in a school environment.

    The last time I checked Mac was still the standard in pro studios but it's been a while.

    If your goal is to ready them for entry level positions, the focus should really be on mic placement, signal path and studio etiquette anyway. The software platform is secondary. Chances are, if they get a job in a studio, they won't be touching the computer much for at least the first 6 months. It's more likely that they will be at the patchbay, setting and striking and documenting. So in my mind those should be the primary focuses. Though software of course is important.

    Just a thought on software, consider a standard of using Protools regularly with an additional focus on a different daw changing monthly. How long is the course to be?
  5. iznogood

    iznogood Member

    Feb 9, 2004
    no access to the http://www.... :shock:

    is this 2005??

    can't imagine a computer not on the web.....
  6. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    It's easy. Imagine a machine without viruses, spam, pop up windows, "help" toolbars. Yeah. It's a sacrifice but worth it to keep the headaches away. The kids can use the library comps to surf. I don't know why you would want to risk your workstation in a data critical environment. Have a machine for surfing/email and another for audio. It's the best way to keep your work safe.
  7. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    Jun 19, 2002
    A DAW certainly does NOT belong on the internet.
  8. moondog

    moondog Guest

    Thanks for the replies everyone! Lots of good points being made.

    Everyone I'm talking to, online and off, is confirming my original feeling, which is that, for better or worse (my opinion only, not looking to start a fight :) ) PT is the standard and needs to be a focus.

    What we'll be doing is offering additional elective courses in other platforms, perhaps grouping them by function and offering overviews that would at least allow kids to find their way around.

    As for platform choice, it's a PC house. I've been told to figure that's what we'll be using.

    There will be at least one course designed to familiarize them with the Mac platform, so I'm guessing there will be at least some Macs here.

    I been planning all along to lobby LONG and HARD for keeping studio machines off the net.

    Absolutely. They'll be taking several courses in the basics (physics and acoustics, studio skills, studio ops, signal flow, analog and digital recording, etc) before we get to platform-specific stuff.

    It's an Associates' degree. Designed to be completed in what ends up being 5 semesters. Not as easy to fit everything in as I might have assumed at first. (Darn those Gen Ed requirements :D )

    Thanks again for your input, folks. I'll probably be back with more questions as things progress.


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