Call For New Courses For Peer 2 Peer University

The Peer 2 Peer University is gearing up to launch its third cycle of courses this coming September, and we’re looking for new faces to join the community. Do you have an idea for a six week course? Whether it’s Physics 101 or Poker and Strategic Thinking, all ideas are welcome. You can propose a course at (deadline is August 6, 2010).

If you’ve never designed or run a course before, that’s okay, too. P2PU is running a Course Organizers Orientation

( for newbies to introduce organizers to the practice of online facilitation and provide support while they build a new course. The orientation will be three weeks long and will enable future course organizers to:

  • Experience open social learning first-hand

  • Distinguish peer-2-peer learning from formal online teaching

  • Navigate the different features of the P2PU site

  • Design a course on a topic of their choice on the P2PU site

  • Learn how to use different synchronous/asynchronous platforms effectively

  • Review and provide feedback for others; revise and refine syllabi for their course

Weekly video conferences will be held to discuss important aspects of community building, course design, finding and creating course content, open educational resources (OER), and troubleshooting. Conferences will be recorded and posted for those unable to attend. The orientation leader will also post office hours to provide additional support.

Building on the feedback from participants and organizers in the last two cycles of courses, the P2PU community realised that many potential course organizers had reservations about some of the technological and pedagogical aspects of running courses online. This orientation aims to address these concerns, as well as help organizers become an active part of the P2PU community.

The P2PU community consists of a diverse group of people. They are writers, teachers, designers, doctoral and alternative grad students, artists, copyright specialists, scientists, and blues guitar players. Above all, they are learners–peers working together to learn from each other.

More information, including how and where to sign up, can be found on the P2PU wiki:
You can submit course proposals until August 6, 2010.


And now "open" online education has Nixty

logoIt is a website that let's you take and create courses for "free."

They are starting with courses available from open-source sources (like MIT's OpenCourseWare Project), but Nixty users will be developing new courses using the site.

The Nixty LMS has tools typically found in systems like a grade book, ways to test and discussion areas. There are already "free" and open learning management systems (like Moodle), so, I suppose what is new here is the combination of offering courses and a way to create one if a topic is missing.

It sounds like Nixty is more open than free though. They have plans to introduce a payment system for courses that would allow a course creator/instructor to charge students who want to enroll. Instructors will pay $4.99 a month for three courses and also a commission of 20% of the "tuitions."

They also plan to partner with some online institutions. No college credits are issued, but they may try to arrange credit using the College-Level Examination Program.

The Dumbest Generation

I had not heard of a book by Emory University professor Mark Bauerlein called The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don't Trust Anyone Under 30). Its title is a curmudgeonly play off the Tom Brokaw's The Greatest Generation book and video series.

I have been reading and writing about a number of non-fiction books lately that focus on the dangers of technology. This one is very school focused. Bauerlein feels that the immediacy and intimacy of social-networking sites has seduced kids and that their Internet focus makes what they study in school seem boring.

I'm not sure that the boring school versus engaging outside world comparison hasn't been around since schools began. But he thinks that because what we teach isn't happening in this moment and because it's not about (or seemingly relevant) to them and their friends, that school content loses.

I think he is right in saying that students more often use the Net today as a way to communicate and connect than as a learning tool. That is certainly more true now in Web 2.0 than it was in the early days of student Net use.

Besides teaching and writing, Bauerlein has also directed the office of research and analysis at the National Endowment for the Arts.

In a Teaching & Learning Q&A, Bauerlein answers the question, "So what role (if any) should technology play in education?" by saying in part:

"...insert a few assignments now and then that prohibit the use of (technology). Have them do research that uses microfilm and archives, no Google. Have them spend 15 minutes each morning reading a print newspaper, not a news web page. The goal isn't to dispel technology, but just to preserve a small but critical mass of non-technological learning and inquiring.

For one hour after dinner, for instance, everybody reads (parents have to model this themselves - they can't just say, "Go to your room and read a book.") In the morning over breakfast, they might wheel a TV into the room and have the kids watch C-Span or some other serious programming."

Research without technology. A reading hour. Forced C-Span viewing.  Are these useful solutions?


Flipboard: Your Social Magazine?

Billed as "the world's first social magazine," Flipboard is a free app that allows you to flip through news, photos and updates your friends are sharing on Facebook and Twitter in a "magazine" layout.

I heard about it and watched the video (see below). I put the app on my iPad but I can't add Twitter and Facebook until I get an "invite" from the company. (I'm not a big fan of beta teasers that require invites.)

Is it something we need? Will you discover fresh content using it? Will it make some people more comfortable by using the familiar layout of print media to view social media?

You don't scroll through lists of posts and links and you wouldn't have to switch between Twitter and Facebook (and other sites eventually).

Can it become YOUR own personalized social magazine? The idea of a home page for your social graph that brings it together in a more enjoyable way than a list or RSS feeds has some appeal.

I'll let you know - when I get my invite...

Mozilla Drumbeat in NYC

If you are an Open Web advocate, mark Saturday, August 7th for a meetup event where you can meet people and projects that are keeping the web open. (Plus, free pizza and beer.)

Mozilla Drumbeat asks "Will the web still be open in 100 years?" Mozilla thinks it can, and should, and must be.

That's why we're starting Mozilla Drumbeat, an invitation to everyday internet users to imagine ideas and projects that build a more open web. We want you to get involved! We are building a new community that includes teachers, artists, designers, filmmakers, writers, lawyers, and policymakers—not just open web geeks. Online, Drumbeat is catalyzing new open web projects that address critical needs and make the Web healthier.

Check out current projects or initiate your own at

Drumbeat NYC will showcase cool projects and people that are keeping the web open. Come to Drumbeat NYC and learn how you can get involved, or show others what you've been working on. Drumbeat events aren't just for geeks. We're here to weave together local networks of creative, Web-loving people and start new projects to make the web better.

You can RSVP at Facebook or Eventbrite

Check out the agenda.