Welcome to the Peeragogy Accelerator.
The purpose of the Peeragogy Accelerator is to use the power of peer learning to help build great organizations.
We will do this by investing time and energy, rather than money, building a distributed community of peer learners, and a strongly vetted collection of best practices. Our project complements others’ work on sites like Wikiversity and P2PU, but with an applied flavor. It is somewhat similar to Y Combinator and other start-up accelerators or incubators, but we’re doing it the commons based peer production way.
Here, we present Peeragogy in Action, a project guide in four parts. Each part relates to one or more sections of our handbook, and suggests activities to try while you explore peer learning. These activities are designed for flexible use by widely distributed groups, collaborating via a light-weight infrastructure. Participants may be educators, community organizers, designers, hackers, dancers, students, seasoned peeragogues, or first-timers. The guide should be useful for groups who want to build a strong collaboration, as well as to facilitators or theorists who want to hone their practice or approach. Together, we will use our various talents to build effective methods and models for peer produced peer learning. We’ve labeled the phases as Stage 1 through Stage 4, because that’s the schedule we use, but if you’re working through this on your own, you can choose your own pace. Let’s get started!
Stage 1. Set the initial challenge and build a framework for accountability among participants. (1-3 weeks)
Activity – Come up with a plan for your work and an agreement, or informal contract, for your group. You can use the suggestions in this document as a starting point, but your first task is to revise the outline we’ve developed so that it suits your needs. It might be helpful to ask: What are you interested in learning? What is your primary intended outcome? What problem do you hope to solve? How collaborative does your project need to be? How will the participants’ expertise in the topic vary? What sort of support will you and other participants require? What problems won’t you solve?
Technology – Familiarize yourself with the collaboration tools you intend to use (e.g. a public wiki, a private forum, a community table, social media, or something else). Create something in text, image, or video form introducing yourself and your project(s) to others in the worldwide peeragogy community.
Suggested Resources – The Peeragogy Handbook, parts I (‘Introduction’) and II (‘Motivation’). For a succinct theoretical overview, please refer to our literature review, which we have adapted into a Wikipedia page about ‘Peer learning’.
Observations from the Peeragogy project – We had a fairly weak project structure at the outset, which yielded mixed results. One participant said: “I definitely think I do better when presented with a framework or scaffold to use for participation or content development.” Yet the same person wrote with enthusiasm about being “freed of the requirement or need for an entrepreneurial visionary.”
Further Reading – Boud, D. and Lee, A. (2005). ‘Peer learning’ as pedagogic discourse for research education. Studies in Higher Education, 30(5):501–516.
Further Questions: What subject or skill does YOUR group want to learn? OR What product or service does YOUR group want to produce?
- identify members & subgroups
- survey members: interests, motivations, skills, experience, time
What learning theory and practice does the group need to know to put together a successful peer-learning program? OR What specific theory and research does the group need to meet production or service goals?
- who has gone before? (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle)
- similar groups & organizations
- best & worst practices
- other similar products, for production
- proven success strategies
Stage 2. Bring in other people to support your shared goals, and make the work more fun too. (1-2 weeks)
Activity – Write an invitation to someone who can help as a co-facilitator on your project. Clarify what you hope to learn from them and what your project has to offer. Helpful questions to consider as you think about who to invite: What resources are available or missing? What do you already have that you can build on? How will you find the necessary resources? Who else is interested in these kinds of challenges? Go through the these questions again when you have a small group, and come up with a list of more people you’d like to invite or consult with as the project progresses.
Technology – Identify tools that could potentially be useful during the project, even if it’s new to you. Start learning how to use them. Connect with people in other locales who share similar interests or know the tools. Find related groups, communities, and forums and engage with others to start a dialogue.
Observations from the Peeragogy project – We used a strategy of “open enrollment.” New people were welcome to join the project at any time. We also encouraged people to either stay involved or withdraw; several times over the first year, we required participants to explicitly reaffirm interest in order to stay registered in the forum and mailing list.
Further Reading – Schmidt, J. Philipp. (2009). Commons-Based Peer Production and education. Free Culture Research Workshop Harvard University, 23 October 2009.
Further Questions: Identify and select the best learning resources about your topic OR Identify and select the best production resources for that product or service
- published resources
- live resources (people)
What is the appropriate technology and communications tools and platforms your group needs to accomplish their learning goal? OR How will these participants identify and select the appropriate technology and communications tools and platforms to accomplish their production goal or service mission?
- internal platforms & tools including meeting spaces, connecting diverse platforms
- external (public-facing) platforms & tools
Stage 3. Solidifying your work plan and learning strategy together with concrete measures for ‘success’ to move the project forward. (1-3 weeks)
Activity – Distill your ideas by writing an essay, making visual sketches, or creating a short video to communicate the unique plans for organization and evaluation that your group will use. By this time, you should have identified which aspects of the project need to be refined or expanded. Dive in!
Technology – Take time to mentor others or be mentored by someone, meeting up in person or online. Pair up with someone else and share knowledge together about one or more tools. You can discuss some of the difficulties that you’ve encountered, or teach a beginner some tricks.
Observations from the Peeragogy project – Perhaps one of the most important roles in the Peeragogy project was the role of the ‘Wrapper’, who prepared and circulated weekly summaries of forum activity. This helped people stay informed about what was happening in the project even if they didn’t have time to read the forums. We’ve also found that small groups of people who arrange their own meetings are often the most productive.
Further Reading – Argyris, Chris. “Teaching smart people how to learn.” Harvard Business Review 69.3 (1991); and, Gersick, Connie J.G. “Time and transition in work teams: Toward a new model of group development.” Academy of Management Journal 31.1 (1988): 9-41.
Further Questions: What are your benchmarks for success in your learning enterprise? OR What are your benchmarks for success in your production enterprise or service organization?
- survey members
- pilot testing
- formal assessment
- what’s next?
Stage 4. Wrap up the project with a critical assessment of progress and directions for future work. Share any changes to this syllabus that you think would be useful for future peeragogues! (1-2 weeks).
Activity – Identify the main obstacles you encountered. What are some goals you were not able to accomplish yet? Did you foresee these challenges at the outset? How did this project resemble or differ from others you’ve worked on? How would you do things differently in future projects? What would you like to tackle next?
Writing – Communicate your reflection case. Prepare a short written or multimedia essay, dealing with your experiences in this course. Share the results by posting it where others in the broader Peeragogy project can find it.
Observations from the Peeragogy project – When we were deciding how to license our work, we decided to use CC0, emphasizing ‘re-usability’ and hoping that other people would come and remix the handbook. At the moment, we’re still waiting to see the first remix edition, but we’re confident that it will come along in due course. Maybe you’ll be the one who makes it!
‘Extra credit’ – Contribute back to one of the other organisations or projects that helped you on this peeragogical journey. Think about what you have to offer. Is it a bug fix, a constructive critique, pictures, translation help, PR, wiki-gnoming or making a cake? Make it something special, and people will remember you and thank you for it.
Further reading – Stallman, Richard. “Why software should be free” (1992).
Further Questions: Write your own!
Micro-Case Study: The Peeragogy Project, Year 1
Since its conception in early 2012, the Peeragogy Project has collected over 3700 comments in our discussion forum, and over 200 pages of expository text in the handbook. It has given contributors a new way of thinking about things together. However, the project has not had the levels of engagement that should be possible, given the technology available, the global interest in improving education, and the number of thoughful participants who expressed interest. We hope that the handbook and this accompanying syllabus will provide a seed for a new phase of learning, with many new contributors and new ideas drawn from real-life applications.
We began with these four questions:
How does a motivated group of self-learners choose a subject or skill to learn?
How can this group identify and select the best learning resources about that topic?
How will these learners identify and select the appropriate technology and communications tools and platforms to accomplish their learning goal?
What does the group need to know about learning theory and practice to put together a successful peer-learning program?
Micro-Case Study: The Peeragogy Project, Year 2
10 new handbook contributors joined in the project’s second year. We’ve begun a series of weekly Hangouts on Air that have brought in many additional discussants, all key people who can help to fulfil peeragogy’s promise. The handbook has been considerably improved through edits and discussion. The next step for us is putting this work into action in the Peeragogy Accelerator.
Micro-Case Study: The Peeragogy Project, Year 3
We published our plans as “Building the Peeragogy Accelerator”, presenting it at OER14 and inviting feedback. In the run up to this, we had been very active creating additional abstracts and submitting them to conferences. However, despite our efforts we failed to recruit any newcomers for the trial run of the Accelerator. Even so, piloting the Accelerator with some of our own projects worked reasonably well,1 but we decided to focus on the handbook in the second half of the year. As the project’s line-up shifted, participants reaffirmed the importance of having “no camp counsellors.” In the last quarter of 2014, we created the workbook that is now presented in Part I, as a quickstart guide to peeragogy. We also revised the pattern catalog, and used the revised format to create a “distributed roadmap” for the Peeragogy project – featured in Chapter 7 of the third edition of the handbook.