We just submitted the following proposal to the Open Ed 2010 conference (submission deadline is tomorrow). P2PU and OpenEd go way back, and the conference has a very special place in our heart. In 2008, we ran a workshop on P2PU (run by Joel, Stian and myself – and John Britton who came on board back then) that turned out be be the key milestone where we switched gears from “wouldn’t it be nice … ” to “ooops, we made a public commitment to actually do this”. At Open Ed 2009, we announced that our pilot phase courses were ready for sign-up and lots of people signed-up. And we hope that in 2010 we can reflect on the things we learned since then, and discuss some of the challenges we encountered – and our ideas on addressing them – with the amazing Open Ed family. We are running our P2PU community meeting just before Open Ed in Barcelona this year, so there will be lots of P2PU gang-stars at the conference. Here is what we submitted, fingers crossed.
Abstract (140 characters or less)
Using data from two rounds of P2PU courses, we report on progress, challenges, and possible implications for the future of higher education.
Full proposal (500 words or less)
The Peer 2 Peer University is a grassroots education project that organizes learning outside of institutional walls. Leveraging the internet and educational materials openly available online, P2PU provides the social environment necessary for meaningful learning and mechanisms for validation of achieved learning. P2PU is teaching and learning by peers for peers and it is run and governed by volunteers.
P2PU launched its pilot phase of 7 courses during Open Ed 2009. It has since created a web-platform to host more courses, organized a first round of 15 courses, and developed strong partnerships with a number of organizations to improve its peer learning methodology, explore alternative certification mechanisms, and better understand an OER future that goes beyond content.
In this session we will report back on the current status of the project, the progress we have made during the last year, ask for feedback and input from the community, and discuss the possible implications of projects like P2PU for the future of higher education. We hope that sharing our thoughts and experience informs other efforts with similar visions, and encourages more participation in order to help us address some of the key challenges together.
We will use data collected during the pilot phase (7 courses in English) and the first round of courses (15 courses of which 3 in Portuguese) and add our personal experience in the P2PU community to reflect on a number of points that we consider relevant to the open education movement:
- Meaningful peer learning – There is a tremendous opportunity to connect findings from learning research to open peer learning communities like P2PU. Some of the challenges we encountered in the first rounds of courses include participant retention and motivation, establishing supportive social dynamics in small groups of learners, and developing assessment mechanisms for open peer learning.
- Open Governance – P2PU is run and governed by a community of volunteers, referred to as “gang-stars” and supported by a small number of staff and contractors. Broadly following inspiration from open source software communities, most aspects of P2PU, including strategy development, communications efforts, and design of new technology features, are driven by community input and support. We will share our thoughts on the meaning of leadership, authority, and management in open communities like P2PU.
- Validation / Certification – Learning for learning’s sake is a luxury for most people. P2PU is partnering with the Mozilla Foundation to establish a model for alternative open certification for web developers. Using this pilot we are attempting to implement robust peer assessment and validation mechanisms that allow participants to signal their achieved learning to others, in order to get jobs, enrol in formal education programmes, or for personal enrichment.
- Sustainability – P2PU received start-up grants from two foundations. In order to sustain the core expenses of the operation and support its volunteer community, a more reliable long-term solution is required. We will share our ideas for monetization of certain aspects of the project.