I love P2PU.

But I’ve spent the better part of a year trying to understand why it didn’t start with one of the great open source LMSs, like Moodle, instead of trying to build from scratch.

I’ve come to understand (sort of) that it has to do with a preference for simplicity and ideas about what might scale massively.

An interesting breakthrough for me was the realization that different people react differently to the design of P2PU as a platform. In particular, those who have little online course experience generally really like the platform and jump into it quickly. Those who have a lot of online course experience (especially building) seem to have a less favorable reaction. This seems to apply to participants and organizers alike. Like me, many say “Why not Moodle?” As participants, they often have a hard time figuring out what to do in a P2PU course. (I’ve gotten some funny messages that have left me unsure of whether to laugh  or cry.)

I’ve been thinking about the many design and development challenges, and it is clear to me that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. What might work for one  school or even for one course won’t work for another.

An elegant solution to this might be a solid API and a series of plug-ins that can be incorporated into various courses as appropriate.

Need a better discussion board platform, a portfolio module, a social network tool, or an RSS reader? Add the plug-ins. Like the simplified design as it currently exists? Just leave it as is.

Granted, designing an API is not an easy project, but it’s how most social tools are developed and we’ve done it before. And it’s a lot easier to design an API and good plug-ins than to try to patch together a design that tries to be everything to everyone.


The intricacies of designing a platform for many
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