As someone who grew up at a time when computers filled a large room, I am still in awe of the digital technology that enables instructors like me to teach a course at an institution on the other side of the country and connect with students from around the world. My courses at ASU are fully online, asynchronous, and attract triple-digit enrollments. These three circumstances shape the structure of the courses.
The two overriding goals of both courses are to make the course enjoyable and valuable. I do my best to make it enjoyable through the music, the content and pacing of assessments, and the resources that I provide, and try to make it valuable by helping them become more aware and informed listeners through activities that stretch and challenge them.
Because of the very large class size, the required assessments consist exclusively of quizzes and exams. The assessments are short and focused; most questions include audio clips. For material that will require a more extended period of assimilation, such as terms and style features, I've created repeatable practice quizzes that draw questions randomly from a large question bank, and detailed breakdowns of the material. Students can access these throughout the course before taking an assessment that counts toward their grade.
The course structure draws on recent research regarding learning—and the results of a poll of my students. In particular, the work of Peter Brown and others on learning retention (Making It Stick) helped validate the frequent and low-pressure quizzing. The work on perceptive learning cited by Benedict Carey (How We Learn) inspired activities that parallel and intensify listening experiences outside of the course.
The design of my courses also reflect the reality that a general music course is most often a fourth course for students majoring in other concentrations. Finding a balance point between familiar kinds of evaluation and activities outside of their comfort zone has been an ongoing challenge. As I prepare to offer the courses to different constituencies, I will take considerable care to try to meet students where they are educationally and move them ahead as helpfully as I can. .