Credit: caruba
Credit: caruba

I’m reading A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change by Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown. I’m particularly interested in the part on peer learning and learning collectives.

This passage struck me:

[O]ne might be tempted to ask how we might harness the power of these peer-to-peer collectives to meet some learning objective. But that would be falling into the same old twentieth-century trap. Any effort to define or direct collectives would destroy the very thing that is unique and innovative about them.

This might be at the core of the tension I often feel when working in P2PU. It runs through everything from instructional design to system architecture.

I used to think it was my “old-school” teacher tendencies coming out, but I think it goes deeper than that. The very notion that perhaps peer learning shouldn’t be be structured, shouldn’t have learning objectives, and can’t be externally assessed simultaneously makes sense to me and is very uncomfortable.

This is in part because, at my core, I am an organizer. I see P2PU and its potential, and I want to build, organize, and disseminate. I want to make a School of Ed and to make it great.

Can the learning collective be both undefined and organic and also be focused and purposeful?

I’m reading on.

Trying to grok the lack of structure in peer learning
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One thought on “Trying to grok the lack of structure in peer learning

  • October 25, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    I think we still need much more experiments to find different forms of peer-to-peer learning. I am also sure that there probably isn’t “one right way” – there are most likely many good ways and many bad ways to organize p2p learning.

    One may, however, approach the idea philosophically, too – see it as a pedagogy. When there is the notion of p2p studying it is y definition more participatory. The teachers in a p2p learning situation must respond to the needs and ideas of the learners. He or she is there to serve the learners. Same time the teachers must know that what the learners want is not necessary what they need. The discussion on the topics what the learners want and maybe need must take place early. This many then lead to meaningful structure that is not given by the teachers but build in a p2p spirit.

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