FHSU introduces new Virtual College class

Fort Hays State University will be offering the new and virtual American Popular Music class -- beginning with the fall 2002 semester -- via the Virtual College.

The course is a study of the development of American popular music and its leading figures. The curriculum will span from the origins of pop music in Tin Pan Alley (American musical theatre) to the current diverse pop landscape. Included will be looks at the African-American tradition (minstrel shows, blues, jazz and swing), country music and the Anglo-American tradition (folk, country, western and bluegrass), and rock.

The focus of the course will be on the development of each style as well as its influence on other styles. The chronological period covers more than 150 years, including a multicultural examination of the influences on the popular music of our society.

In January of 2002, Dr. Tim Crowley, chair of the Department of Music, requested development of the course after seeing how popular it was at a school where he previously taught. Dr. Robert Conger, assistant professor of music, then developed the class for FHSU's Virtual College.

"Actually, it was first developed with the intent to offer another music gen ed class," said Conger, "but approval has not yet been granted by the Faculty Senate. Hopefully, in the next year or two we will be able to offer it as a gen ed."

Developing the course entailed the challenging task of finding a text with matching CDs to use as listening samples.

"Because of copyright restrictions, there really aren't that many text/CD combinations offered by textbook companies," said Conger.

In order to take it to the virtual classroom, the rest of the development hinged on Conger's knowledge of PowerPoint, as that is the main delivery system for the class.

"The lectures use PowerPoint and Tegrity software," said Conger, "and the CD presentations are in a 'pop-up video' format."

Dennis King, director of the Center for Teaching Excellence and Learning Technology, and his staff helped with the streamlining presentations and adding listening samples to all of the tests.

"I am happy to be out of the development stage and to be able to offer the course for credit," said Conger.

This course is presently being offered solely on the Virtual College, so there is no limit to the number of students in the section. The class satisfies general education requirements for the bachelor of general studies degree.

"Hopefully," said Conger, "we will be able to add this survey class to the music gen eds which are currently offered (Listening to Music and Jazz)."

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