in January, 2018, Cengage released new editions of my texts in pop and rock. The content from the previous print editions received significant updates, mainly to account for the world of popular music in the 21st century. However, the more consequential change was the shift to digital delivery. Cengage's MindTap platform has made it much easier to bring sound, words, and image together—to connect terms with the sounds that they represent and to use visual elements to reinforce the connections, and I was eager to make use of it. .
The new platform and the ease with which one can now assemble and upload content for streaming motivated me to create multimedia resources to enhance students' experience with the music. Directly below, you'll encounter main themes of the narrative, samples of videos produced for the texts, and a brief overview of key features in MindTap.
In both texts, the music is the story: how a distinctively American music developed mainly from the interaction of two seemingly immiscible musical traditions; how it has been transformed over several generations; and how it seems to have reached a point of evolutionary stasis over the last quarter century. The main route from then to now has been an ever-widening mainstream—the commercially dominant music of each generation—but the narrative also explores the interplay between the mainstream and other important but less popular musical styles. This narrative thread provides a framework for discussing individual tracks and the styles that they exemplify.
Because it was so easy to incorporate multimedia materials, I created several video series for the new editions. Below you'll find samples from three: a set of hierarchically organized overviews, expanded, historically informed videos on key terms, and numerous glossary entries on musical terms and styles. .
This is just the beginning. Other series are in the works, as well as audio-based study aids such as perceptive learning-based practice quizzes and breakdowns of important style features. Once completed, they can easily be uploaded into MindTap.
Cengage describes MindTap as a "digital learning tool." It is to an eBook what a high-end backpack is to a paper bag. There are places for so many more features: links, multimedia resources, quizzes, course administration (if integrated with a LMS), calendar, and more.
I'm new to MindTap, but I'm already aware that it's a huge upgrade from a print book. Here are three features that I've found to be especially useful.
MindTap is convenient for students (and for faculty): all of their materials are in MindTap or linked to it. And it’s only as heavy as their laptop — and the mobile version is even lighter and has much of the functionality of the desktop version.
instructors can easily add and/or subtract content to shape their courses according to their own vision. In my case, the rock text serves two more focused courses, so I simply hide the parts I don’t use and insert additional content in the parts that I do.
It takes just a couple of minutes to add content—.pdf's. YouTube videos, Spotify links, and much more—to MindTap. The result is an instructor-determined balance among various resources. In my case, audio and video are no longer ancillaries, but an integral part of the learning tool.
a new kind of course
The intersection of technology and business—online course delivery, digital learning tools, monetized streaming audio and video, relatively inexpensive digital production equipment—has produced a paradigm shift in the creation and presentation of general music courses. I highlighted above some of the ways in which I used this miraculous technology to reshape my texts; in the next section, I outline some of the ways in which I've adapted it to the circumstances of the two courses that I teach for Arizona State University.