Peer to Peer Uni

I’m interested in peer to peer learning, or paragogy, so I thought it was time to give the Peer to Peer University a go. It doesn’t yet have very many courses on. I’m pretty busy (aren’t we all) so I didn’t want to just pick anything and give up time to learning something unfamiliar. I was also loathe to pick a topic I knew something about as it might be a waste of time. In the end, I went for the latter, thinking I would surely learn something new. I went for the topic on Content Curation or being a digital curator. I found the emphasis was a little too much on using aggregators to scoop current news, as if curation was like being a ‘flypaper’, just catching what was coming up. I made a brief comment about that and instantly got a reply advising me to use a couple of other more academic tools. Both of these were new to me, so that was good. It had the same feeling as Edgeryders, where people immediately respond to your contributions. I had used a few aggregator tools before but there was a really long list provided, and I thought I’d have a go at to curate a topic on Indigenous Learning. I wanted to gather links on the Sami people, but also about how other indigenous communities are learning and adapting to ecological change. It was very quick to set up and it kept feeding me news that I could discard or publish. However, the links were too news-based so I followed the peer advice and searched for more academic sources. Because I had a Scoop-it plug-in, I could capture any of those sources to my topic board.

It took me around an hour to do the course and the task. I was quicker than I should have been.

I could go back and interact with other people some more. I will probably try out a couple of other tools suggested and will see if that leads to any more group learning.

It was a hybrid of synchronous and asynchronous. I was helped out in the task in real time (at midnight) but I could have done it whenever I wanted.

I certainly learned a lot about aggregator tools, having seen a very long list that I’d never seen before and tried one new one.

Compared to traditional classroom learning, I wasn’t held back by a group but helped to progress by a ‘more able other’. I didn’t have to waste time at all. It was totally efficient.

I don’t really mind missing out on the face to face social contact for a topic such as digital curation. The topic I was actually researching, Indigenous Learning, is something I would really love to study more in-depth and immersively, by visiting the Sami in Finland etc. I’m not attracted to learning about it in a classroom environment. Either I want to be immersed in the web and seeking help from others out there online, or immersed in a culture and a place. The classroom doesn’t really provide either of these immersive possibilities.


Even classrooms about languages do not provide immersive possibilities. I was never able to learn any language ability other than by being immersed in an environment.

Self-learning tends to be very efficient, paced to the individual, allowing to focus on needs and interests. Peer to Peer University seems to me as a wider, enlightened experience of Self-learning, with input from others. While Self-learning was hardly recognized before and was difficult to prove, other than by years of professional experience on a resume, Peer to Peer University gives learners recognition for their achievements.

Are we just conservative?

Great job! i like your Scoop page on indigenous learning. I bookmarked Scoop for future use :slight_smile:

Ok, so it’s a win. Because, if I read your report correctly, of two things:

I wasn’t held back by a group but helped to progress by a ‘more able other’. I didn’t have to waste time at all. It was totally efficient.


Either I want to be immersed in the web and seeking help from others out there online, or immersed in a culture and a place. The classroom doesn’t really provide either of these immersive possibilities.

“Being held back by a group” is a very well known problem with classroom education. Teachers have to strike the right balance, catering to the middle part of the slow learner-fast learner frequency distribution and leaving the very slow and very fast to sort themselves out. (I absolutely hated school as a little boy (age 6-10) because I was fast and found it boring. I complained so much that my parents had me skip one year at age 10, and then it got better - but not for long. I could only really breathe when I finally got to university.) No surprise there.

The surprise is that people rave about social contact in the classroom environment, whereas you (and I - I have played this mission too) don’t think much of it. To me, it feels very much like people that used to say things like “Online papers are never going to take off! You can’t have your morning coffee while staring at a computer screen!” or “E-books are just not the same as smelling the paper of a newly bough book.” We all know how those went. And yet, the people making these point believed, in perfectly good faith, that they were being sensible, reasonable, wise. But they were not: they were suffering from a completely irrational conservative bias, a preference for the status quo.

I suspect this might be a common problem facing reformers. If, suppose, European policy makers were to attempt a reform on education, I suspect that they would know that the classroom model arose as a function of technological constraints that are no longer there. “Know” as in “we have done the science, and it is proven”. And yet, it must be exhausting to engage Joe Sixpack, day in day out, that thinks any deviation from the system he has grown up in (and probably hated at the time) is dangerous, radical and starry-eyed.  Why are we biased in favour of the status quo?

Social learning

Hello, thanks Alberto for your great response. I don’t want to seem too rejecting of ‘classroom’ per se. I think I’m most concerned about the conventional ways that classrooms and educational superstructures are organised which leads to frustration for many learners. When I say that classroom or group learning holds people back, I should qualify that to say that I don’t believe learning is a race, and I don’t really believe that we should divide people into quick or slow learners and group them accordingly. Most people can be really quick learners when they are motivated but for some of us, our brains slow right down to the pace of a snail stuck in tarmac when anxious or bored. The conventional classroom privileges skills with abstract symbolisation over skills with your body, forms, materials, nature and images. So, only those of us quick with words and numbers are judged to be quick learners.

It’s not so much that when you learn in groups you’re pulled back to the lowest or average common denominator of ability, it’s more that there’s little scope for following personal flight paths of learning. Sometimes those flight paths of learning really gain from being slowly paced, letting you churn over difficult ideas or tasks over and over again.

I do quite enjoy learning with others. I am a social learner and I think learning should be social. I don’t like being duty bound to a particular group, in one space and a particular course of study for too long. Conventional classrooms are not actually geared towards social learning. They aren’t flexible enough and they are too focused on individual exam success. Achievement-oriented learning tends to put people in cohorts, as if they are on a race track, and then attempt to drive them towards personal achievement in competition with the others. You are trapped with others for years on end, competing with them. Hell!

E-learning is exciting because it offers opportunities for us to design alternative structures for learning so that it is both more personalised (you choose to come, work to your interests and at your pace) and more socially oriented (peer to peer relationships, learning towards ‘bigger than self’ outcomes).

motivation built on competition expires in collaboration age

Thanks for the critical observation of a competition in classrooms.

It seems like the Competition Age is coming to the end for many sectors, while the Collaboration one is trending.

In classrooms, the motivation is still built on competition, and I often took it for granted.

This might be one of the reasons why the transition is painful. We got used to the fact that the transition between formal education and work is a difficult and painful process. Should it really be so.