P2PU – The community that brings open peer-to-peer learning to the web
P2PU is not where you go to take a course. It’s where you learn how to make a course.
We are a community of practitioners and a hub of expertise for open peer-to-peer learning online. We stand for open peer-to-peer learning, and give everyone the tools, know-how, and support they need to build great projects and join the open learning movement.
Why P2PU is needed
Not enough people understand how they can combine open tools and open content, with peer-to-peer pedagogy to bring learning to the web.
There is a growing interest in online learning, but it can be daunting to get started. There are too many tools, and not enough blueprints or examples, and the benefits of open are not clear. There is a perception that online learning has to be expensive and difficult.
What’s missing is a place you can go to find the best open tools, get inspired by examples of what others have done, find recipes to start your own project, take a course on how to make a course, get help from a community of like-minded people when you need it; and the ability to partner with a non-profit organization that has a track record of successful projects.
What we will do
Core audience > Practitioners
People who build online courses (similar to the original P2PU course organizers) and organizations who are looking for a partner to develop showcase or research projects.
Core activities > Help anyone build great online courses
We provide our community with everything it needs to implement great open peer-to-peer learning projects. We inform and inspire by sharing best practices, how-tos and reports. We document the best open software tools and how to use them. We offer courses about open peer-to-peer learning.
- Information & Inspiration > We extract lessons learned from all of our projects and publish them as P2PU Lab Reports. We provide recipes and how-tos on all aspects of running open peer-to-peer courses. We blog extensively about our work and interesting learning experiments we come across. We share inspiring user stories. We blog, speak, and may run a conference in future.
- Tools > We try out and curate the best open tools that exist. We develop small applications that are missing. We provide excellent documentation to make it easy to get started.
- Courses on how to do open peer-to-peer learning > We offer a small set of courses on open peer-to-peer learning (how to start a new course, pedagogy and assessment, etc.) to help practitioners get started and grow our community. These courses are loss leaders to showcase our technology and expertise.
- Community and support > We grow our community and the amount of discussion that takes place at P2PU. We host active forums, make sure questions get answered, and there is a buzz about our work.
Special Projects > Showcases, Research, Consulting
In limited cases, we partner with others to create showcase courses or schools on other topics; do research; or offer more extensive advice/assistance as consulting services.
- Showcase projects > We build showcase courses with partners, if the project helps us (and others in the field) learn how to do open peer-to-peer learning better, e.g. it let’s us figure out a tricky problem that many projects are struggling with, we get to build a tool that lots of people are asking for, or we significantly raises our profile which allows us to have more impact.
- Research > We facilitate connections between researchers, and share research findings on the principles and methods of social learning in compelling ways.
- Consulting > In some cases we will consider development projects that don’t have a strong research component, but are still worth pursuing. This will not be our major focus, and projects need to align with our values. Draft criteria for choosing consulting jobs have been developed.
Out of Scope > Hosting Platforms
We don’t maintain platforms for general use by the community. We don’t run or host courses on anything and everything. We are not the place to come to take a course. We occasionally build tools that could become platforms (e.g. the Mechanical MOOC) but we are very cautious to not become a platform ourselves again. We design our tools to be appropriated by others.
Why we are well positioned to succeed
- We have a track record of successful showcase projects and a reputation as innovators and implementers.
- The new strategy focuses on our strengths and is scalable on the back of a small and nimble team.
- It makes our innovation more real. We ultimately care about the impact that new technology and ways of learning have on peoples’ lives. This is a way to stay involved with cutting edge ideas, but as the people who help bring innovation to market.
- MIT Media Lab relationship let’s us increase the reach of our work, and creates opportunities for new partnerships.
How we will know if we are successful (in no particular order)
- We grow the open learning ecosystem
- Demand for P2PU knowledge and resources is high.
- Practitioners sign-up to our courses on open peer-to-peer learning.
- We can track user stories and examples of our influence.
- We help the field of open peer-to-peer learning advance
- Our showcase projects are successful experiments.
- Our research results prompt further questions and conversations
- Media and others are paying attention.
- Our innovations are adopted.
- Our community thrives and grows
- Number of comments on the blog, posts on the discussion forum, etc.
- Our messages gets out into the world
- We get invited to speaking engagements/ conferences.
- There is demand for our paid services
How we will be sustainable
- We operate in an attractive space. The overall online learning space is growing, including continued funding for research, implementation and partnerships. We expect to be able to generate income from grants (research and experimentation to build out the knowledge base) and consulting (helping others build great examples).
- 2014/2015: Fund core operation through research grants and showcase projects. Increase budget allocation to documentation and community building.
- 2015+: Continue grant and showcase funding, but increase share of consulting income.
- We stay lean and nimble and leverage our existing funding to transition to the new strategy (our existing funding is well aligned with this shift).
We recruit additional board members with experience in fundraising.
The risks (and how we deal with them)
- There is competition, but we are well positioned.
- Long-term sustainability hinges on assumptions about our ability to continue to raise grant income and grow consulting revenue, but these assumptions are reasonable.
- There is strength in numbers. We lose the direct connection to the learner community. But we can reach larger numbers of learners through our core community of course creators if we get the branding right.
- What we do is complicated and it is hard to communicate the special value of P2PU (especially while public attention is dominated by MOOC narrative), but we have been getting better at it.
- Change is always hard and initial team attitude ranged from cautious to enthusiastic, but we’re on track linking strategic objectives to personal interests.