Report – Play With Your Music MOOC 1.0 – P2PU/MusEDLab Whitepaper

If someone says “online course” you might think about a very passive experience, like watching lectures, talking multiple choice quizzes, or reading out of an e-book. At P2PU we focus on passion, play and projects, and we were seeing less “play” in the exercises and tutorials in the online education landscape. We wanted to change the conversation, to encourage creative expression and nurture originality. We believed we could offer a learning experience that would include mastering new skills, certainly, but do so as a byproduct of creative projects.

Play With Your Music is about learning music while playing with music. It’s a hands-on introduction to the creative processes of audio engineers and producers. The first six-week course provided an introduction to critical listening, strategies for learning from recordings, musical uses of audio effects, mixing and remixing. In November 2013, over 5,000 participants signed up to participate. They worked together in small “Learning Ensembles” of 30-40 people to make their own mixes and remixes, and shared their sounds along the way via

From the outset, the #PWYM team–Dr. Alex Ruthmann (NYU), Ethan Hein (NYU), Vanessa Gennarelli (P2PU) and Dirk Uys (P2PU)– approached the course as a design-based research project. We were interested in ways to build a sense of “belonging” to a community in an online space. Our hypothesis was that small groups with shared musical interests or tastes would sustain engagement, support peer learning, and prompt deeper feedback. We wanted folks to feel like they had a “crew” they could depend on.

We wanted to develop not just a great learning experience, but a design-driven research project to grow knowledge around peer-driven learning online. In this paper we reflect on the aims, the experience, and the lessons learned from PWYM.


Read the full report at


Leave a Comment