This post is part of a series of reflections informed by my participation in the 2013 Mooc Mooc at Canvas.net. Today we are exploring participant pedagogy, what Howard Rheingold calls peeragogy (also called paragogy) and related themes. Below are first reflections followed by a a list of “what if…” questions intended to help us imagine what a learning environment informed by participant pedagogy might look like. After reading the list, please add more “what if…” questions in the comment section. For more resources on the subject, consider reviewing the rich content provided in the peer-developed Peer-to-Peer Learning Handbook.
Many of the readings and resources on the subject invite us to reconsider the power structures and dynamics in various learning environments. Rather than the teacher being responsible for all aspects of the planning, prescribing, and assessing; participant pedagogies re-imagine and redistribute these functions. In some cases, it may be helpful to completely remove the word “teacher” from the discourse. The teacher in unnecessary in one sense. That does not mean that that the roles and responsibilities carried out by the teacher in a traditional pedagogical framework are unnecessary. Instead, it means that that those roles and responsibilities can be fulfilled by all or various participants in a learning community. As a result, peer-to-peer learning environments challenge us to reconsider traditional notions of teacher and student. Participant pedagogy and peeragogical notions invite us to reconsider learning environments by asking questions like the following:
- Instead of the instructor pre-developing the syllabus, what if learners (including the instructor as a “co-learner”) developed the syllabus together?
- Instead of the instructor taking the full responsibility to assess the learners, what if the learner’s established methods and criteria for assessments? What if learners self-assessed and peer-assessed? What if assessment was something that learners did as part of the learning process and not something that an instructor does to them?
- What if learners developed ways to crowd-source the feedback loops that allow them to check their progress?
- What if learners differentiated the learning environments themselves by contributing individual and group learning objects and resources that turned into a continually growing repository for other participants?
- What if the rules of the “class” or learning environment “read and write” and not “read online”?
- In a game-based learning experience, what if the participants themselves established the rules of the game or had the ability to change the rules of the game mid-play?
I offer these questions as a starter point, but in the spirit of peer-to-peer learning, what do you have to contribute to the list?