Virginia Tech

Case Studies

Virginia Tech



Virginia Polytech and State University Blacksburg, Virginia Founded 1872

OnMusic Appreciation PROVIDES:

  • An online textbook with sound files and definitions of musical terms included in the text
  • Virtual note-taking
  • Pre-designed tests and quizzes
  • Customized grading features
  • TestYourself questions at the end of every chapter
  • Mobile access


  • Free
  • Available to students and professors
  • Prompt callbacks
  • Friendly, patient, and approachable


  • Review features like note-taking and the glossary with students early in the term
  • A professor should become familiar with the tests and quizzes before teaching the course
  • Advance planning is helpful for determining learning objectives, selecting materials, and creating assignments

“This class is great for anyone needing or wanting a better understanding of basic music concepts and ideas.”

“The organization was much better than in other online classes I have taken. The readings and assignments were all in one location which was great.”

“This course helped me understand the past and the present of music. I liked that the Listening Guide provided a variety of examples, including both classical and modern.”


Virginia Tech is Virginia’s preeminent research institution. This school encourages a hands-on and practical approach to learning and is dedicated to promoting technical leadership and economical growth within the region.


Music Appreciation is one of the most popular courses offered by the Department of Music at Virginia Tech. It fulfills one of the undergraduate liberal arts requirements. Prior to adapting OnMusic Appreciation, the Music Department offered a traditional version of the course. In the first year of the online course, one-third of the 1500 students who registered for the course signed up for the online version.

Professor Richard Cole was one of several faculty members who participated in efforts to adapt the Music Appreciation course to an online learning environment. In 2010-2011, Professor Cole taught three online sections of the course with OnMusic Appreciation. There were over 200 students in each section, and he did not have a teaching assistant.

With OnMusic Appreciation, Professor Cole sought to implement an efficient program that would ease his heavy teaching load. Amongst his colleagues, Professor Cole was the most successful at creating an online course.


The Music Appreciation course at Virginia Tech focuses on providing students with an understanding of the terms and conventions of western art music, as well as of the historical context for its development.

Professor Cole reported that he used all of the OnMusic Appreciation features, and that he particularly liked the streaming music and online music dictionary. With music streaming, he was able to eliminate concert attendance and the final paper as part of the class requirement. He also found that OnMusic Appreciation facilitated his ability to comprehensively cover the history of western music from the medieval era to the present.

Regarding student assessment and grading, Professor Cole said that OnMusic Appreciation helped him to be much more efficient. He assigned all of the courses’ thirty quizzes, as well as a mid-term, final, and four written assignments. With OnMusic Appreciation’s automatic grading feature, grading was much less burdensome that in his traditional course.


Professor Cole has now been teaching online using OnMusic Appreciation for over five years. He said that online instruction is good for enrollment. In a traditional scenario, the department would need to offer more sections, but would not have the capacity to enroll the same number of students.

Music Appreciation is Professor Cole’s most popular class. There is always a waiting list.