MUSIC 324 

Tarleton State University

Instructor:  Dr. Vicky V. Johnson 


E-mail:  vjohnson@tarleton.edu  




Pre-Course Information

You may not want to take this course if . . . (click the link to find out!)




  1. What is the text? 

    The text is American Popular Music, 3rd edition, by David Joyner


  2. Do I need that edition?

    If you try to use an earlier edition, the page numbers will be incorrect and it will not include information on the most recent popular music.  Otherwise, it is up to you.


  3. When do I need the book?

    You need the book by the first day of class.  There is an assignment the first week that requires the textbook.  I know the book costs 60+$ in the bookstores, so feel free to find it wherever, but don't ask to delay assignment submission while you are waiting for it to come in or if it is back-ordered.  For those who would prefer a digital text subscription, or who do not have time to order the text, it is also available at Coursesmart.com at the following direct link:  http://www.coursesmart.com/0077285980  If your book gets back-ordered, do not wait for it - get the digital text.


  4. What are the tests like?

    Each exam will be available within a two-hour window of time, from 8:00pm to 10:00pm on the test days, which are on Sundays.  The exams will only be available during the specified times. They will not be rescheduled to accommodate work or personal schedules.  Each exam should take about 30-40 minutes.  You will have one hour from the time you begin the exam to finish it.  Each exam will consist of two parts:  1) multiple choice questions based upon the lectures, reading, and other links, and 2) identification of songs from your listening list.


  5. How tech savvy do I have to be to take an online course?

    That is a common question and difficult to answer.  We have great people in our tech help department when there are problems or you need help troubleshooting.  Most of us know more than we think we do, and appreciate learning new things in technology.  If you feel that you are very inexperienced, it would be a good idea to have some local help - someone available to walk you through processes at your computer in person.  So, you can still give it a try with the help of son, mom, brother-in-law, neighbor, or whoever loves you enough to give you a hand :-)  The number for the Blackboard help desk is 254/968-1960.  Write that number down and keep it handy.


  6. What kind of a computer set-up and software do I need?

    • Word 2007 or later (you need to be able to read .docx files)

    • PowerPoint (to make your final project)

    • Be familiar with Blackboard (this is the distance learning environment used by Tarleton)  Tutorials are available at: http://online.tarleton.edu/fac_dev/applications/student_blackboard/

    • You absolutely need high-speed internet because the audio files used for testing are streamed.  You can't be waiting for each file to load while taking a timed test. 

    • Wireless internet has occasionally been problematic when taking exams.  Hard-wired connections are more reliable.  Make sure your wireless is reliable or use it at your own risk!

    • There are a few necessary configurations that will be explained by the Blackboard system, but that are easy to do.  As a matter of fact, you can do that ahead of time.  The instructions are here:  http://online.tarleton.edu/Dual/computersettings.htm


  7. Can I substitute a different program for Word or for PowerPoint?  

    No.  Although there are a variety of word processing programs and presentation programs out there, both your classmates and I must be able to open your files as well, so you need these standard programs.


  8. When and how can I access the course?

    On the morning of the first day of class (10am), you can go to Blackboard from the Tarleton website and the link to your course will be there.


  9. Are online classes easier than face to face classes?

    Online classes generally take more of your time than a face to face class because reading and writing take more time than listening and talking.  They certainly take more time for the instructor!  If you are taking an online class because you think it will be easier, then get out now while you can!!  For other reasons you may not want to take this course, click here.


  10. How can I take a music class online?

    Hey - you don't need the band in your living room to listen to your favorite tunes, do you?  You can read, can't you?  The lectures are written out - you read your book - you listen to music (streamed from your computer) - you turn in assignments - you take tests - you have class discussions online - Voila!   That's how you take a music class online.  You "attend" class in your PJ's, with your drink of choice, at 3am.  It's great!




The typical week goes like this:

  1. The week begins on Monday. That doesn't mean you have to begin on Monday, but you should log in and check the week's workload.  You set your own pace, but be aware that the most successful students log-in to Blackboard every day.  It is easier to keep up with discussions that way, and you also get more points for answering your discussion question earlier in the week.  Each week has two deadlines, so sometime early in the week, you should log in and check the week's workload. 

  2. First, you should read the lecture material and the reading assignment in the textbook.  There is a lot of reading, so don't put that off.  You also need that information in order to answer the discussion questions.

  3. Each week includes a discussion question.  Your first deadline of the week will be to post your answer to the discussion question before midnight on Friday.  The earlier in the week that you post this answer, the more points you get.

  4. The second deadline of the week will be for the week's assignment.  You are also required to post responses to your classmates' discussion posts.  You get more points if you post three or more.  The assignment for the week and the responses are due by Sunday at midnight.

  5. Then you start all over again for the next week.  Some assignments are more involved than others, and some reading assignments are longer than others, but the process is similar each week.

There is a final project at the end of the semester, and there are 3 major exams.  The exams are taken online.


The two biggest problems students seem to face in taking this course are:

  1. Self-discipline to keep up with the course:  It is not a difficult course if you actually read the material, do the assignments, and study for the tests.  However, it is easy to put off doing these things since no one is nagging you and you never have to show up to face me!  Failing to keep up with the weekly assignments (putting it off or forgetting to log in) is the #1 reason that students fail the course or do not do as well as they wish.

  2. Technical difficulties:  You do need high speed internet.  In order to listen to the audio clips, watch the video clips, and to take the exams, dial-up will not do.  You will need to jump through a few minor hoops to set your computer according to Blackboard's requirements (Blackboard is the online course component used by Tarleton for secure log-in, etc.).  These include checking for correct plug-ins (Java, etc.), disabling pop-ups, etc.  Some students have managed to work on the course from libraries, etc., but just be aware that your 1992 Mac will probably not cut it!

If you can handle a self-paced course, are prepared to actually learn something, and if you have the technology required, you should have no trouble with this course.

And IF you can put up with my corny jokes!

You may not want to take this course if . . .

  1. if you have an objection to taking tests on Sundays or having assignments due on Sundays, whether religious objections, work conflicts, or personal reasons.  All tests are on Sundays evenings.  The tests are open from 8pm to 10pm.  The deadlines for weekly assignments are on Sunday at midnight. 

  2. if you have limited access to the internet.  You should be logging in every day with a reliable connection.

  3. if you think a summer or an 8 week class is half as much work as a long semester.  We cover the whole book.  It's the same amount of material.  You work twice as hard for half as long or less!

  4. If you are taking the course because your job and family responsibilities don't leave enough time to devote to homework and studying and you think an online class will require minimal time.

  5. if you are expecting an easy "A."  In the spirit of full disclosure, you have been warned!

So make an informed decision!



Created and maintained by Vicky V. Johnson