In April this year, P2PU received a grant from the Hewlett Foundation to “track and validate deeper learning in online peer learning.” Deeper learning is a term Hewlett coined to describe the types of engagement that we associate with open education – combining factual knowledge and hard skills, with dispositions and habits that are topic independent, such as team-work, collaboration, communication, and problem-solving.
The existing research on how people learn, suggests that spaces like P2PU, which encourage self-directed and social learning, might be better suited to allow development of these dispositions than traditional instructional settings. But very little is known about how to measure or describe the learning that takes place – and we are setting out to help change that. Of course, there are others working in the same space – and people like George Siemens and David Wiley (who is the Learning Analytics Advisor to P2PU) have fostered an emerging research community. We are building on the work they have done and plan to contribute back to the field (Aside: this topic will be one focus area at the upcoming Open Ed conference, so if you are interested, come join us there).
So, in order to get a better sense of the learning that takes place at P2PU (and for that matter other online peer learning communities) we will be adding a few new members to the team in the coming months. We are starting with an Learning Assessment and Analytics Specialists (see here for the full job description).
P2PU is looking to hire an assessment expert, who wants to build meaningful, relevant, and robust assessment systems into our social learning platform. The position is supported by a grant from the Hewlett Foundation, and focuses on two flagship pilots projects (but results are expected to spread into other areas of P2PU in the longer term):
- The School of Webcraft is a partnership between P2PU and Mozilla to radically transform web developer training, including certification. We need to develop assessments that cover both 21st century skills, as well as hard technical skills.
- Through a partnership with UC Irvine, P2PU is exploring pathways from social learning online into certification by an accredited institution, starting in the area of professional education. We need to develop assessments that feed into the certification process at UCI.