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Dr. Eric Weisbard–iPads and popular music

August 10th, 2011

I teach American Studies courses on popular music. For AMS 232, Contemporary America in Music, a class of 30ish students, we had 10 iPads, enough to use in fairly small groups. The course has units on the 1970s, 1980s, and then 1990s-2000s. For this inaugural installment with iPads, we used them in small groups for the 1980s unit to look at specific MTV videos. It worked well overall, though one of the 10 had internet connection issues for no clear reason. I had planned a class using the iPads to look at current apps for music, but the tornado kept it from happening. If we still have the iPads this fall, which I have not yet confirmed, my plan is to repeat the 1980s class, get to actually do the apps class, and introduce a 1970s iPad class where we look at soul music album covers together. For my other course this fall, Pop Music to 1945, I am hoping that I will be able to use my own iPad in discussion circle meetings to play music or showcase web information, without having to get up and walk to the podium and back each time. Overall, I want to keep working with iPads and other technologies to think about ways of encouraging students to be, in a sense, more hands-on where the virtual archive of popular culture is concerned.

Eric Weisbard is assistant professor of American Studies; author of Use Your Illusion I & II, editor of This Is Pop, Listen Again, the Spin Alternative Record Guide, and the forthcoming Pop When the World Falls Apart; associate editor of The Journal of Popular Music Studies; VP of the American branch of IASPM: International Association for the Study of Popular Music; and organizer of the annual Experience Music Project Pop Conference. He still thinks of himself as a rock critic.

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