This is the first in a series of posts about the differences and similarities of formal adult learning, especially through institutions of higher ed and ones that issue some kind of formal credit, and informal DIY adult learning.

P2PU is all about informal learning. The new School of Ed pilot at P2PU is to give K-12 teachers a chance to engage in professional development that not only covers innovative approaches to learning but also models collaborative approaches that we hope teachers will take back to their own classrooms.

Historically, much professional development (PD) is mandated by districts. Teachers are told what, how, and when they will learn. There is little differentiation. Courses at the P2PU School of Ed are all voluntary and free of charge. Participating teachers choose what courses they want to take and even what types of projects and activities they will pursue to accomplish their own objectives. It is differentiated and self-directed.

In order to renew their teaching credential and to advance on the salary scale, teachers must earn professional development credit, the requirements of which vary state by state. In some states, this is tied to continuing education units (CEUs), typically issued by a university. In others, it is clock hours, often issued by an intermediate unit. A few are experimenting with more innovative models.

Obviously it would behoove participants in P2PU, both in the School of Ed and in other areas, to be able to earn this type of credit for their participation and achievements in courses.

It is with that goal that we recently began discussions to seek CEU credits for School of Ed courses through a prestigious traditional university.

In beginning this process, the chasm between the traditional and new peer-driven models was immediately evident. Here are just a few of the questions that arose. (I’ll be writing more about each of these in the days to come.)

  • How do you certify the course facilitators? What exactly is a “facilitator”, and what is his/her role in peer learning?
  • What is the syllabus for each course? What happens if that syllabus is fluid and flexible for the class as a whole as well as for individuals?
  • How do you measure students’ time on task in the course, as well as their concrete outcomes?
  • How are learners formally assessed and what is the grading policy (if any)?
  • Does the normal timeframe for going through this certification process work for a learning environment founded on rapid development and constant iteration?

In discussion these questions, I could really understand and empathize with both perspectives. (I am often accused of being more “traditional” than my avant guard peers. :)

These questions are more will be the basis of other posts in this series. Hope you enjoy reading and join in the discussion!

Formal Ed vs DIY – Part 1, A Culture Clash?
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