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We live where no one knows the answer and the struggle is to figure out the question. [1]

Welcome to the Peeragogy Handbook! We want to kick things off with a candid confession: we’re not going to pretend that this book is perfect. In fact, it’s not an ordinary book at all. The adventure starts when you get out your pen or pencil, or mouse and keyboard, and begin marking it up. It gets kicked into high gear when you join Peeragogy in Action. You’ll find a lot of friendly support as you write, draw, or dance your own peeragogical adventure. But first, what is peeragogy?

Peeragogy is a flexible framework of techniques for peer learning and peer knowledge production. Whereas pedagogy deals with the transmission of knowledge from teachers to students, peeragogy is what people use to produce and apply knowledge together. The strength of peeragogy is its flexibility and scalability. The learning mind-set and strategies that we are uncovering in the Peeragogy project can be applied in classrooms, hackerspaces, organizations, wikis, and interconnected collaborations across an entire society.

The Peeragogy Handbook is a compendium of know how for any group of people who want to co-learn any subject together, when none of them is an expert in the particular subject matter – learning together without one traditional teacher, especially using the tools and knowledge available online. What we say in the Handbook draws extensively on our experiences working together on the Handbook – and our experiences in other collaborative projects that drew us here in the first place. The best way to learn about peeragogy is to do peeragogy, not just read about it. Towards that end, coauthors and fans of the Handbook have an active Google+ community, conveniently called Peeragogy in Action. We maintain a regular schedule of weekly meetings that you’re welcome to join. The Handbook includes a short syllabus, which also called “Peeragogy in Action”, and you can work through this with your own group as you read through the book.

You’re warmly invited to combine your local projects with the global effort, and get involved in making the next edition of the Handbook. That doesn’t necessarily require you to do extensive writing or editing. We’re always interested in new use cases, tricky problems, and interesting questions. In fact, our view is that any question is a good question.

Here are some of the ways in which the current edition of the Handbook is not perfect. You’re welcome to add to the list! These are places where you can jump in and get involved. This list gives a sense of the challenges that we face putting peeragogy into action.

Scrapbook of Peeragogical Problems

Maintaining a list of useful resources

We include references and recommended reading in the Handbook, and there are a lot more links that have been shared in the Peeragogy in Action community. It’s a ongoing task to catalog and improve these resources – including books, videos, images, projects, technology, etc. In short, let’s “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”! As a good start, Charlotte Pierce has been maintaining a spreadsheet under the heading “survey” in our Google Drive.

Developing a really accessible DIY tool-kit

A short “workbook” containing interviews and some activities follows this introduction, but it could be much more interactive. Amanda Lyons and Paola Ricaurte made several new exercises and drawings that we could include. A more developed workbook could be split off from the handbook into a separate publication. It would be great to have something simple for onramping. For example, the workbook could be accompanied by video tutorials for new contributors.

Paola Ricaurte points out that a really useful book will be easy to sell. For teachers interested in peeragogy, this needs to be something that can be use in workshops or on their own, to write in, to think through issues. We’re partway there, but to improve things, we really need a better set of activities.

The next time Paola or someone else uses the handbook or workbook to run a workshop, she can say, “turn to this page, let’s answer this question, you have 10 minutes.” There are lots of places where the writing in the handbook could be made more interactive. One technique Paola and Amanda used was turning “statements” from the handbook into “questions.”

Crafting a visual identity

Amanda also put together the latest cover art, with some collaboration from Charlotte using inDesign. A more large-scale visual design would be a good goal for the 4th Edition of the book. Fabrizio Terzi, who made the handbook cover art for the 1st Edition, has been working on making our website more friendly. So, again, work is in progress but we could use your help.

Workflow for the 4th edition

We’ve uploaded the content of the book to Github and are editing the “live” version of the site in Markdown. For this and previous print editions, we’ve converted to LaTeX. There are a number of workflow bottlenecks: First, people need to be comfortable updating the content on the site. Second, it would be good to have more people involved with the technical editing work that goes into compiling for print. Remember, when we produce an actual physical handbook, we can sell it. In fact, because all co-authors have transferred their copyright in this book to the Public Domain, anyone can print and sell copies, convert the material into new interactive forms, or do just about anything with it.

Translations

Translating a book that’s continually being revised is pretty much a nightmare. With due respect to the valiant volunteer efforts that have been attempted so far, it might be more convenient for everyone involved to just pay professional translators or find a way to foster a multi-lingual authoring community, or find a way to create a more robust process of collective translation. Ideas are welcome, and we’re making some small steps here. More on this below.

Next steps? What’s the future of the project?

In short: If we make the Handbook even more useful, then it will be no problem to sell more copies of it. That is one way to make money to cover future expenses. It’s a paradigmatic example for other business models we might use in the future. But even more important than a business model is a sense of our shared vision, which is why we’re working on a “Peeragogy Creed” (after the Taekwondo creed, which exists in various forms, one example is [2]). No doubt you’ll find the first version on peeragogy.org soon! Chapter 7 contains a further list of practical next steps for the project.

References

  1. Joshua Schimel, 2012. “Writing Science”, Oxford University Press.

  2. Taekwondo Student Creed, World Martial Arts Academy, http://www.worldtaekwondo.com/handbook.htm

☞ Welcome to the Peeragogy Workbook!

This booklet-within-a-book is designed to introduce you to our fun, exciting world of peer learning and peer production!! You may already be familiar with these terms, or they may be new to you. Either way, don’t worry!!

If they are new, consider the following 2 examples.

  1. Peer learning: Joe Corneli needs to get from the suburbs of Chicago to the north side of the city. He gets on the commuter train and transfers to the purple “L” at Davis Street in Evanston. He plans to change to the red line at Howard Street, but the train says “Loop” and he asks another passenger whether it will stop at Howard. She says it will, but that he can save an hour of his time by riding express to the city and then coming back two stops! Joe makes it to his meeting with Charlie with plenty of time to spare.

  2. Peer production: Two cavewomen see lightning strike a tree and produce fire! Walking up to it they notice the heat and think “Wouldn’t it be nice to have fire for our family at night!” Once the rain clears, they find some dry sticks and start working together to figure out how they can use them to start their own flame. After hours of trial and error, BOOM they’ve got fire! The news travels fast. :)

Peeragogy is an approach to learning and working together on projects ranging from the mundane to the monumental. Peer learning and peer production are probably as old as humanity itself, but they take on new importance in the digital age.

The Peeragogy Project is an informal learning project with members worldwide. Three members of the project share their welcoming messages below.

Paola Ricaurte Quijano: Welcome to the Peeragogy Project! We are a group of enthusiastic people who love to learn and are trying to find the best ways to learn together.

Lisa Snow MacDonald: Welcome to peeragogy! It’s kind of a weird name, but it’s enormously powerful in providing a fresh understanding of ways of working together.

Dorotea Mar: Your contributions will be really welcome if you participate respectfully and harmoniously with other peers. It can change your life and improve your well-being and make everything better.

A Peeragogy Interview

Introductions

Paola Ricaurte Quijano: Hi! I’m Paola, I’m from Ecuador. I work at Tecnológico de Monterrey, a private university in Mexico City, and I love to learn with everybody!

Dorotea Mar: Hello. I’m in Berlin now and I really like the peeragogical atmosphere of collaboration and I think we are really improving ways of collaboration and peer production, so that’s why I’m here.

Lisa Snow MacDonald: Hello. This is Lisa from Los Angeles. My background is media psychology and I’m interested in peeragogy as it relates to business.

LSM I think what these things do is that they allow us to recognize the value of connections. A lot of other ways of working are more individualized. It goes back to a concept of 1 + 1 = 2, which is very rational and very measured and is kind of a dominant way of thinking in our society today, whereas peer to peer learning and production recognize the value of those connections. You may not be able to measure it with a yardstick, but we understand that there is value in those connections. So it’s basically acknowledging that when it comes to learning/collaborative environments if constructed the right way if working well it can be 1 + 1 = 3 or 1 + 1 = 4. That type of situation, which is really different from the way we’re used to thinking about things. And I think that’s really the value of what we’re doing and the potential of what we could hopefully unlock.

Do you agree with Lisa? What else do the terms peer learning, peer production, and peeragogy bring to mind for you? You can jot some keywords here:

PRQ This is a project that began spontaneously. We didn’t have a plan at the beginning. We just talked about the things that concerned us the most. What do you need if you want to learn with others, how to learn better? what do you want to learn? Where do you want to learn? When do you want to learn? Basic questions that can be answered in many ways. We don’t have a strict line. We have a map, maybe, but a map that can be walked through by many different paths. Paths that you choose can be related to the people you are working with. I think it’s been a great experience for us. As Lisa said, we have been recognizing the talents and strengths of every person that has contributed to and participated in this project.

What are some of the things you’re concerned about that brought you here?

LSM The map analogy that Paola just mentioned is really good. It’s not about providing a direct path. If you’re on a trip trying to get from LA to Chicago, there are many paths you can take. What’s important is making sure you’re monitoring your resources and you’re taking care of things along the way. You can drift off-course. One plus one can equal zero if things don’t work out well. So, what peeragogy and the Peeragogy Project can do is to provide some structure and framework around the unstructured way that things can be done. People trying to make sure their methods are constructive and beneficial now have some guidelines and things to watch out for.


Example: Howard Rheingold Grows a Learning Network

“When I started using social media in the classroom, I looked for and began to learn from more experienced educators. First, I read and then tried to comment usefully on their blog posts and tweets. When I began to understand who knew what in the world of social media in education, I narrowed my focus to the most knowledgeable and adventurous among them. I paid attention to the people the savviest social media educators paid attention to. I added and subtracted voices from my attention network, listened and followed, then commented and opened conversations. When I found something I thought would interest the friends and strangers I was learning from, I passed along my own learning through my blogs and Twitter stream. I asked questions, asked for help, and eventually started providing answers and assistance to those who seemed to know less than I. The teachers I had been learning from had a name for what I was doing — “growing a personal learning network.” So I started looking for and learning from people who talked about HOW to grow a “PLN” as the enthusiasts called them.”


DM I think I do a lot of peeragogy and I’m very happy about it because I learn so much from my group and from myself in this group that I like to apply it to other projects that I’m in or things like co-working and co-living projects. Especially the principle of mutual respect that still remains after a very long time. And the way we relate to each other is really nice.

The main principle is mutual respect and openness, and the process. And in each detail, there is value that we believe in.

Let’s say how we manage the Peeragogy Page or Community (See “How to Get Involved,” later in this chapter.). These seem to be details, but they’re actually really important. So if we pay attention to all these, every little thing matters, and this is how I do it. I try to be very mindful in all interactions.

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How do you do peeragogy? Can you think of examples that worked well, and others that didn’t work as well?


Example: Learner, know thyself.

When he joined the Peeragogy project in 2012, Charles Jeffrey Danoff did a brief self-evaluation. What makes Charlie interested in learning?

  1. Context. As a student, I resisted being groomed for some unforeseeable future. I’d rather work toward a specific goal.

  2. Timing and sequence. I find learning fun when I’m studying something as a way to procrastinate another pressing assignment.

  3. Social reinforcement. Getting tips from peers on how to navigate a snowboard around moguls was more fun for me than my Dad showing me the proper way to buff the car’s leather seats on chore day.

  4. Experiential awareness. In high school, it was not fun to sit and compose a 30-page reading journal on Frankenstein. But owing in part to those types of prior experiences, I now find writing pleasurable and it’s fun to learn how to write better.

PRQ I think peeragogy is more like a mind-set. I think we have to change the way we interact with others and the way we understand the parameters of learning. For example, I’m a teacher and, of course, my teaching practice promotes collaborative, creative learning. So, I expect my students to take responsibility for their own learning by making decisions about most aspects of the learning process; to program their own learning goals. They need to learn to effectively employ the environments (like whiteboards), the activities, and the assessments. I’m trying to give my learners the tools to decide how, what, and why they want to learn. For me, it’s been a very interesting experience. Learners often find it unfamiliar to make their own decisions about the process in a formal environment. At the beginning of the semester, students are given everything and usually just follow guidelines and criteria. I have been trying to change this dynamic. Students feel insecure, because they really do not know how or what they want to do. So, that process of making decisions together becomes very rich and meaningful.

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Example: Metacognition and Mindfulness

“What (exactly) are you doing? Can you describe it precisely? Why are you doing it? How does it fit into the solution? How does it help you? What will you do with the outcome when you obtain it?”1


DM I think I’m always practicing it. I really like that during the weekly hangouts we don’t usually have rigid agendas. We just get creative and let ideas connect and flow. And whatever happens it’s the right thing. We just work together and somehow the right things happen. I think we’re always doing peeragogy when we pursue activities and projects in open, collaborative ways without imposing too much structure or hierarchy. There are many collaborative projects that aim to do something similar to this, but, in a sense, focus on different aspects of the process, and maybe not on such an abstract level as we might. Some people have natural peeragogical tendencies, and some people are less transparent in the way they do things. For me, peeragogy is really beneficial, especially for collaborative projects. Everybody works and learns differently, so if everyone became increasingly aware of how they and others work and learn, of how peergogy functions, and how it all fits into a bigger picture, many tasks would not only be more efficiently done, but also much more enjoyable. It’s also beneficial if everyone focusses on a bigger picture instead of focussing only on their part of it, and if attention is drawn to all that could be done in a peeragogical way.

Do you agree with Dorotea? What challenges might come up in your peeragogical journey?


Example: Jay Cross on Setting Sail

“If I were an instructional designer in a moribund training department, I’d polish up my resume and head over to marketing. Co-learning can differentiate services, increase product usage, strengthen customer relationships, and reduce the cost of hand-holding. It’s cheaper and more useful than advertising. But instead of just making a copy of today’s boring educational practices, build something based on interaction and camaraderie, perhaps with some healthy competition thrown in. Again, the emphasis should always be on learning in order to do something!”


PRQ Why? Well, as said before, I believe in peeragogy. I believe it’s a good way to learn. Maybe it’s the best way. I think I wasn’t aware of that before joining the group. I have always been a self-learner, I have been working mostly alone. After I began working with the group, I understood that you grow working with a group. You achieve things that you aren’t able to achieve alone.

I think there’s a growing awareness of the value of collaboration in every setting and environment. There are more and more learning communities around the world where people are also learning that making decisions together and working together are the best way to be in this world! I think as we live through hard times, we increasingly need a sense that we are not alone and that we cannot solve problems alone.

PRQ After taking Howard Rheingold’s course on Mind Amplifiers in 2012 we were invited to join this group. There was no plan, just an open question of how to best learn with others. That’s how it began. We had lots of sessions and discussed a wide range of issues. The Peeragogy Handbook (http://peeragogy.org) was the product of that process. We’ve been working with the Handbook, releasing a new version every year and trying to figure out what might be the best way to go forward and what the future of our collaboration as a group/team might be.

LSM A couple friends of mine were involved in P2P learning. They were invited to a conference at UCI. Howard was at the event and they were familiar with him and his work. We ended up in an obscure classroom and he started talking about principles that were peeragogy related, while I don’t know if it provided much value to my friends, it sounded a lot like what I saw in business and he mentioned the group. So after that, I met everyone here and it’s been pretty random.

DM I think many paths led to my involvement. I have a lot of academic experience and was doing research on Open Science. I had always wanted to improve the way things work and somehow I wanted to do it more creatively. I resonated a lot with the Peeragogy Project on many levels, so somehow I just joined, I think it was serendipity of some kind.

Paola, Dorotea, and Lisa were interviewed by Charlie on December 15th, 2014. The transcript was significantly edited. You can watch the whole interview online at http://is.gd/peeragogyworkbook_interviews. (49 Minutes)

We’ve given you some examples and questions to think about. Here’s one more really useful exercise. Pick at least one thing you’re good at and one thing you want to improve on from the selection below (or write in your own alternative answers):


Exercise: How do you see yourself fitting in?

Potential roles in your peer-learning project

Potential contributions

Potential motivations

How-To Get Involved in the Peeragogy Project

Write to the Peeragogy Project:

c/o Pierce Press PO Box 206 Arlington, MA 02476

Join a Google Hangout after connecting with us on Google+: https://plus.google.com/+PeeragogyOrgHandbook

Or jump into our live chat: https://gitter.im/orgs/Peeragogy/rooms

There are lots of ways for peers to contribute. Here’s our current “Top Seven” list:

  1. Site: Google+ Peeragogy Handbook page
  2. Site: Peeragogy mailing list
  3. Site: Peeragogy.org
    • What happens: Maintain the “master” copy of the peeragogy handbook, share public news about the project.
    • Who’s in charge: Peeragogy Project
    • http://peeragogy.org
    • Status: Active2
  4. Site: Google Drive Peeragogy Work Folder
    • What happens: Hive editing, working drafts to be delivered elsewhere when they are finished or for final polishing.
    • Who’s in charge: Peeragogy Project
    • http://is.gd/peeragogydrive
    • Status: Active
  5. Site: Peeragogy In Action Google+ Community
    • What happens: Random posts related to Peeragogy, quick communications between members, news about events, hangouts, etc
    • Who’s in charge: Everyone
    • http://goo.gl/4dRU92
    • Status: Active
  6. Site: Peeragogy YouTube Channel
  7. Site: Git.io/Handbook
    • What happens: versioned storage of the LaTeX sources for the print version of the handbook and other derived formats and scripts
    • Who’s in charge: Joe Corneli
    • http://git.io/Handbook
    • Status: Active

Please don’t worry about rules or trying to catch up! Just jump in! :) “Peeragogy Workbook v1.1” © 2015-2016 by the Peeragogy Project. All rights dedicated to the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Zero license. You can view the license online at https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/.

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  1. Schoenfeld, A. H. (1987). What’s all the fuss about metacognition? In A. H. Schoenfeld (Ed.), Cognitive science and mathematics education (pp. 189-215). Hilldale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

  2. See https://github.com/Peeragogy/Peeragogy.github.io for the “behind the scenes”.