News From Peer 2 Peer University

Peer 2 Peer University is the grassroots open education project that introduced me to MOOCs before that term was in the education vocabulary.

P2PU is a nonprofit online open learning community which allows users to organize and participate in courses and study groups to learn about specific topics. They started in 2009 with funding from the Hewlett Foundation and the Shuttleworth Foundation and I discovered them when I took a class that fall.

Back then, people labeled them as "edupunk" because they charge no tuition and courses are not accredited. That has changed recently as some courses in their School of Webcraft provide the opportunity for recognition of achievements through the Open Badges project.

P2PU is very similar to what MOOC (massive open online courses) offer, but rather than focusing on the "massive" aspect, its focus is on people sharing their knowledge on a topic with others. It is much easier to create a course on P2PU than on most of the other big providers. (Coursera and Stanford are understandably not going to allow most of us to create a course on the their platform.) Actually, P2PU offerings aren't always "courses" as you can select "Study Group" and "Challenge" and can even create your own term to describe your offering.

P2PU is a great model of true lifelong learning. Some of their latest projects are moving this type of learning forward. They are working on a draft “Bill of Rights” for online learning and you can help them edit the document.

They also announced the launch of Learning Creative Learning - an online course for designers, developers and educators offered by the MIT Media Lab in collaboration with P2PU. The course starts Feb 11, 2013. You can sign up here and find out more about the course here.

Another big issue in this space is validating learning and offering something resembling "credit" for your efforts. This currently means getting involved in badges, feedback, metrics and more. Vanessa Gennarelli presented at the Digital Media and Learning Grantees Conference on their plan for a qualitative, feed-back based system for their third badges iteration. Take a look at her slides here.


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