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Art Schools Go MOOC, With a New Online Platform

A new company is jumping into MOOCs, but with a focus on teaching free courses in the arts.

The new virtual art school, called Kadenze, has already teamed up with programs at 18 institutions, including Stanford and Princeton Universities, to create a digital platform designed for arts courses. According to a company co-founder, Perry R. Cook, an emeritus professor at Princeton, the platform will be “multimedia rich” and allow students to create online portfolios, upload music files and scanned art, watch videos, and participate in discussion forums.

Kadenze will initially offer about 20 courses on subjects including music, art history, and technology and art. Students will be able to enroll in courses and watch videos free, but they will have to pay $7 a month if they want to submit assignments and receive grades and feedback. Fees of $300, $600, or $900 will be charged for courses that are offered for credit.

Kadenze was started by art and technology insiders, Mr. Cook said. He and another co-founder, Ajay Kapur, director of music technology at the California Institute of the Arts, had collaborated on a programming course for artists on a competing platform, Coursera, a few years ago, and had been frustrated by some of its limitations. Mr. Cook said they designed Kadenze so that people could use it to make playlists and create art portfolios, among other functions. He likened it to “a nice open arts school, where everybody is hanging out together” and looking at one another’s work.

Chris Chafe, director of Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics, said that his group had decided to work with Kadenze because it is “manifestly dedicated to the arts right from the get-go.” His center will pilot the platform this year with support from Stanford’s office of the vice provost for teaching and learning.

Mr. Cook anticipates that Kadenze’s courses will attract a broad range of students, but that the primary interest will be from artists, performers, and those interested in going to art school.

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