The machine that runs P2PU – Update

We have been busy building “the machine” that runs P2PU. The roadmap for School of Webcraft that we posted a few weeks ago shows what we plan to achieve over the course of 2011, but there is a lot of plumbing and wiring that we are putting in place to support these plans, not just for Webcraft but for all of P2PU. In some way this isthe “boring” stuff that has to happen to make P2PU work, but since the community is growing and not everyone is aware of this history – I thought i’d try to sum it all up in one big walter of a blog post.

Turns stuff into learning.


We filed our incorporation papers in January and submitted our tax exemption application to the US tax authorities shortly after. Once we hear back with hopefully good news, we will be a full fledged non-profit organization in California. In California, because we have a strong network of friends and partners there, who helped us a great deal through the process of incorporation. A special thanks to Delia, for poring over IRS forms with me, and Lila, who manages all our pro bono legal work – and Libby Lefever who works for Orrick and is our pro bono incorporation lawyer. And to Michael, who is the non-profit legal advisor to Mozilla. And to Jishnu, at WSGR, who helps with all the other legal things. We are well lawyered up.


With incorporation comes the requirement to have a Board of Directors. These Directors have legal and fiscal responsibility to make sure P2PU doesn’t break the law or waste money, and that we stay on track with the organization’s stated purpose (“to provide open and universal access to quality, online life-long learning and education”). As agreed in Barcelona, the co-founders (minus myself) are part the original board of directors, and prompted by suggestions from many of you, we are also reaching out to a few old friends and other partners to add into the mix. We expect to complete the appointments in the next month and announce the full board at the upcoming board meeting on May 2nd in Boston. The meetings form board meetings will be public.

That's what a board Director looks like

In addition to setting up a Board of Directors, we are also in the process of re-booting our Advisory Board, which we think of as the brain trust of P2PU. The Advisors will help us with substantive discussion on all aspects of P2PU, including pedagogy, assessment, certification options, and partnership development. Each advisor is requested to pick one particular topic they are passionate about and want to take ownership of. We are currently going back to the original advisors, and are also reaching out to potential new ones, and will update the website as we go along. There is no deadline.


With all this talk of boards, let’s not forget that the most exciting thing about P2PU has always been its amazing community of volunteers and other folks. And that is not supposed to change! While Directors and Advisors are important to keep the machine going, our long-term success depends on the ability to create space for more people to help build P2PU. When we were very small this was easy, but as we grow we need to find better ways to coordinate our work, and to help new people join the community. For those interested in learning and courses, the main entry point is the orientation program (now in 3D: current site , new beta site). For those interested in the project as a whole we recently set up a public task tracker. This is not just a place where we log the tasks that keep the organisation running – but we hope it will also become a way for the community to find things they can help with.

A few like these + basement flat = a whole lot done


P2PU currently relies on grant funding to cover its expenses. After a small start-up grant from the Hewlett Foundation in 2009, the Shuttleworth Foundation has been our main supporter and sponsor so far. The School of Webcraft is a little bit different – it’s a joint undertaking with the Mozilla Foundation. Mozilla has put resources into the project, and together we have raised additional funds from the Mac Arthur Foundation. For 2011, our main fund-raising efforts continue to focus on foundation grants, but we have some ideas to garner more broad-based public support, and are also interested in finding ways to generate income that could support the core operation without jeopardizing our core commitment and value of openness. Update: we just received a two-year grant from the Hewlett Foundation to focus on tracking learning achievements within P2PU (and applying what we learn to the broader field of open social learning).

Phew …

That was a lot of detail for one blog post and I still had to leave out many details, but I hope you liked the pictures (and let me assure you – this was nothing compared to surviving P2PU NYC Camp).

Please use the comment box below to ask for clarification, give feedback, raise concerns, and promote new ideas that you would like to see moving forward, or even better, that you would like to move forward.

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