How did the project come about?
I teach an "Introduction to Music Therapy" course at a local college-university (an institution that began as a college and now offers both three-year certificates and four year degrees). The course is a full semester in length (approximately 13 weeks), 3 hours a week and it is offered through the continuing education/special sessions department, in conjunction with the department of music. At this point, there is no "music therapy degree track" so the course is most often used as an elective by the music and/or education students. The last two offerings of this course have used a traditional classroom format, enhanced by the use of a course management system (CMS) called Moodle. Although the use of Moodle is encouraged by the administration, support for faculty and actual use is minimal. Hence, my incorporation of Moodle has been somewhat unique and a source of constant revision and development.
During the last offering of the introductory course I received a variety of positive and negative comments from the students regarding the incorporation and usefulness of Moodle in their learning process. My own perception was that, while useful, there was much more that I could do as an educator/collaborator. This perception was further confirmed when I attended the 2009 MoodleMoot conference in Edmonton, AB, hosted by Athabasca University. It was very enlightening to see how others were using Moodle in new and unique ways, some of which I had not before considered. Following this conference, I began to consider and conceptualize MTECP.
Basic concepts behind the MTECP
Initially, the MTECP will be structured as an independent, non-credit introduction to music therapy available to anyone who is interested, anywhere in the world. It is NOT designed to certify individuals as music therapists and there is no supervision or recognition of completion of the project for any individual participant. In the future, it is possible that the course might be run as a supervised, institutionally approved and recognized course that could lead to admission into/progress towards a degree in music therapy. This, however, is not the initial aim of the project.
In order to provide a common starting point for participants, the textbook entitled, Introduction to Music Therapy: Theory and Practice (3rd ed.) by William Davis, Kate Gfeller and Michael Thaut will be used. This textbook is available from the American Music Therapy Association. As well, participants in this project will use English as a means of correspondence and online discussion/presentations.
Participants/Collaborators for this project will be drawn from interested music therapy professionals, educators, students and hopefully, the authors of the textbook themselves. (I am personally hoping that participants will come from a variety of countries, in order to provide the maximum diversity and range of experiences.) Everyone will be a volunteer, with no monetary compensation offered. Indeed, the public face of the project will be visible to the general public through a non-commercial, non-derivative Creative Commons license. Everyone will be expected to follow the ethical and professional codes of conduct of their respective music therapy association. Membership, in good standing, of an association for music therapy will be confirmed via e-mail prior to full acceptance into the project. Participants are free to leave the project at any point without penalty or consequence.
At this point, the aim of the MTECP will be to examine and explore the role that online learning can play in the enhancement of individual/student learning. Through the use of small working groups of participants, identification of digital resources, development of new activities and resources, and distribution of a final product is expected within a period of no longer than one year. Timetables for completion of expectations will vary depending on the complexity and variety of materials identified/created as well as the number of registered participants.
Finally, there will be a public face and a private face to the project. As stated earlier, the completed project will be available for any member of the public to see. However, there will also be a restricted discussion/collaborative environment where registered individuals can contribute and discuss ideas/concepts. The discussion of ideas and creativity of registered participants is essential to the progress and growth of this project. I cannot emphasize this enough!
John Lawrence MMT, MTA
Edmonton, AB CANADA
Phone: (780) 477-3948