My 2008 classes at Portland State University and Stanford

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Wow, hard to believe it's already mid-March. My daughter is turning six, and this year's compression classes are getting closer.

As long-time readers probably know, I've been teaching compression classes in Portland State University's Multimedia Professional Program and for the Digital Media Academy at Stanford University. Both classes use the same basic curriculum, customized to the different needs of each program (and I always revise heavily based on the particular interest of each cohort of students).

When I joined Microsoft, I actually negotiated the right to keep teaching these classes with complete freedom to cover non-Microsoft media technologies. My managers since then have been uniformly supportive of this, since it behooves all of us to be familiar with all the technologies in the industry. So, in both classes we spend a lot of time looking at tools on both Mac and Windows, and the spectrum of today's video formats, including MPEG-4 and H.264, MPEG-1 and MPEG-2, QuickTime, Flash, and of course Windows Media and VC-1.

The goal of both classes it to impart real-world compression skills, and to that end we have workstations for each student, loaded with content and a variety of the leading compression tools. We spend about half of each class in lecture/discussion and half doing hands-on work. I encourage students to bring source content and actual projects in to class, which we then use for in-class projects.

Both classes provide academic credit, and so are generally covered for reimbursement by employers who offer an educational benefit.

Personally, teaching these classes is among the highlights of my year. As has been oft said, if you really want to learn something, teach it. And I learn more about real-world compression doing these classes than anything else I do in the year. Finding out what people need to know more about, or are confused about, or incredible things students do that I've never thought about are a big inspiration for the revisions for the second edition of my book. I hope to be able to use some draft chapters from the revision for handouts (no promises, though - the book has been delayed too long for any of those...).

So, here's the details about the two classes:


Portland State University April 1-June 3

Compression for Digital Media (MP404) section: 208A CEUs: 3.0

This is my fourth year teaching the seminar in the once-a-week format, each class roughly mapping to what I did in half of each day at Stanford. The longer schedule lets me to stretch out a bit in topics, and assign some of what would have to be in-class work at Stanford as homework.

The class is going to be every Tuesday night from April 1st through June 3rd. I'll be bringing in a guest speaker to cover podcasting for the weeks of NAB at Streaming Media East.

Because of the travel requirements, the class mainly pulls in students from the greater Portland area, although we've had students commuting from as far away as Seattle and Eugene.

Stanford University June 23-27

Mastering Video Compression

The granddaddy. I've been teaching this class once or twice a summer since 2001 (just once the last couple of years due to all my other commitments). Eight hours of compression goodness a day, drawing a national and sometimes international group of students. It's a good mix of educators, professional compressionists, creative industry folks, and other professionals who need to deliver video even if it isn't their formal day job.

I may end the week sounding like Harvey Firestein, but it's a great, intense time, sharing lunch most days as well as full days in the classroom. Some pretty important people in the industry have come out of the class over the years.

The Stanford campus is also a lovely place to be in June. On-campus housing and a meal plan are available for non-local students (who are in the majority).

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