As I had a hunch it might be, this group is everything I think P2PU is or should be about. It is not leader/instructor-led. A variety of folks are editing and adding tasks. People are accomplishing authentic, self-driven tasks. It is a well-functioning peer group through which I have learned new things, gotten support, and made new friends.
So there are clearly lessons to be learned from this experience. What makes this different from other peer learning experiences?
I think the most important thing is that this group supports a real task — writing a novel — that we were all planning to do anyway. The smaller tasks that lead up to this larger goal genuinely support the goal, and in this group, can be customized by each person to support their own project.
The group dynamic — we all self-identify as writers — is positive. We all love writing. Peer learning is a lot more fun when you love what you’re doing, individually and as a group.
We are all collaborating in the sense that we are supporting each other to write our novels, but in the end, the central task is individual. (Sometimes, collaborative tasks can be pretty contrived and that detracts from motivation, I think.)
I think some great novels will be written in November!
NaNoWriMo and P2PU are two of my favorite projects. And as promised, I am bringing them together with two new P2PU writing groups: NaNoWriMo Prep 2012 (Oct.) and NaNoWriMo 2012 (Nov. the writing month).
In addition to being excited about the meeting of these two fabulous projects, this may mark a turning point in my work with P2PU. This is the first course (writing group, really) in which I’ll be adopting something more like what I think P2PU is meant for — a true collaborative peer group. It won’t be leader-led, and in fact, I think there will be little for me to do except play along with everyone else. (I’m counting on that, actually. :)
My other courses on P2PU have been much more traditionally structured courses. They’ve had things like syllabuses and unit-organized content. I’ve tried to make these courses centered on peer learning and collaboration, but frankly it’s not always worked that great. Participants have wanted a “teacher,” and the courses felt like courses. Not that that’s all bad. Sometimes I think a course is the right structure. But still I’ve felt like it wasn’t the real way P2PU was meant to work.
For the NaNo writing groups, all that will change. Also, sign-up is unlimited and unmoderated, something I’ve not done in the past and for good reason I think, but for these groups I think it’s just right.
In the past, I’ve thought the whole MOOC idea was flawed. How can you build community or maintain any kind of quality learning experience with thousands of participants? But for this writing group…I can actually imagine how it could work. I hope we get hundreds of participants so we can try it out.
It might work or it might not, but it will definitely be a learning experience. And NaNo and P2PU are such fun anyway that how can we go wrong?
So if you’ve ever wanted to write a novel and have a little time in November, join us! It will be fun and rewarding. I promise.