Peer To Peer University

The Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU) campus is being built as an online community of open study groups for short university-level courses. It's not a university. It is designed to help you navigate the wealth of open education materials that are out there, but also to create small groups of learners, and to support the design and facilitation of courses.According to the information online, the plan is ultimately for students and tutors to get "recognition" for their work with credit a future possibility.

From their current concept document:

The Peer-to-Peer University (P2PU) fills a gap! It isn't a "real" university and it doesn't want to be. The traditional university is structured around historical constraints (campus space, books, etc.) - the P2PU is a response to the gradual disappearance of some of these constraints.

The P2PU is a vibrant community in which groups of self-learners and tutors work together to emulate some of the functions of an academic institution, in a peer-to-peer fashion. It supports informal learning communities, provides structure and incentives to participate in openly designed and facilitated courses, and creates alternative mechanisms for accreditation - both linking to formal credit, and providing recognition through portfolios of completed work and reputation within the community.

And from Jan Phillip Schmidt, one of the leaders, on his own blog:

At the moment, is just a basic site with a few pages that explain what the P2PU is and how to get involved. We are currently confirming tutors and sense-makers (kind of like Professors, but they don’t have to have a PhD or a title, they just need to know their fields really well) and are hoping that the press coverage will encourage more people to join. It’s an open community project in the true sense, so anyone with a good idea, and some time on their hands to help is welcome!

P2PU will offer scheduled "courses" that run for 6 weeks and cover university-level topics. Learning takes place in small groups of 8-14 students. Each course package contains the syllabus, study materials and a schedule.

P2PU courses experiment with a variety of methods in learning, depending on the preference and style of the tutor and the topic that is being learned. Most materials are stored on other servers and linked to since the P2PU does not want to become a content repository. Once they have been designed, course packages can easily be duplicated. This way, one structured set of materials can spawn many learning communities.

Who is driving this effort? The people involved include Delia Browne (National Copyright Director for Educational Materials in Australia), Stian Håklev (MA student in Higher Education at University of Toronto), Neeru Paharia (Previous Director of Creative Commons, and currently PhD student at Harvard Business School), Jan Philipp Schmidt (video manager of the free-courseware project at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa) and Joel Thierstein, (executive director of Rice University's Connexions project - a free online collection of scholarly materials). The P2PU advisory group currently includes Ahrash Bissell, Executive Director, ccLearn, Leslie Chan, Senior Lecturer, Department of Social Sciences at the University of Toronto at Scarborough. Associate Director of Bioline International, Christine Geith, Assistant Provost and Executive Director of Michigan, State University's MSU Global, Mark Surman, Executive Director, Mozilla Foundation, David Wiley, Associate Professor of Instructional Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University, Chief Openness Officer at the Open High School Utah.

Right now, they are putting together the first 10 courses and plan to announce the course abstracts and details in December 2008. Courses will include Open Economics,Media in Developing Countries, Non-Fiction Writing, Music Theory, Data Visualization, Alternative Energy.

Ready to investigate creating your own course?

More info at the OpenCourseWare Blog


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