The Peer 2 Peer University is a grassroots open education project that organizes learning outside of institutional walls and gives learners recognition for their achievements. P2PU creates a model for lifelong learning alongside traditional formal higher education. Leveraging the internet and educational materials openly available online, P2PU enables high-quality low-cost education opportunities. P2PU - learning for everyone, by everyone about almost anything.
The following values and principles are the foundation of P2PU: openness, community, peer learning. We are articulating these values in order to guide our actions, but P2P has always been about doing, and our actions will in turn help us probe and refine these values.
P2PU is open: Open sharing and collaboration enable participation, innovation, and accountability. Our community is open so that everyone can participate. Our content is open so that everyone can use it. Our model and technology are open to enable experimentation and ongoing improvement. And our processes are open so that we are accountable to our community.
P2PU is a community: P2PU is a community-centric project and our governance model reflects that. P2PU is driven by volunteers, who are involved in all aspects of the project. As members of this community, we speak and act with civility, tolerance, and respect for other opinions, people, and perspectives. We strive for quality as a community driven process of review, feedback and revision.
P2PU is passionate about peer learning: P2PU is teaching and learning by peers for peers. Everyone has something to contribute and everyone has something to learn. We are all teachers and we are all learners. We take responsibility for our own and each others learning.
Two years ago P2PU started with five people and has since grown into a community of hundreds of innovators and tens of thousands of users. During this time, P2PU has run three cycles (semesters) of courses, with the number of courses offered doubling each time. Organizers of P2PU courses are volunteers who submit their course idea and receive guidance from a wide array of experts and community members to create a comprehensive syllabus of open materials and a social structure around them. Our current trajectory involves designing a community-supported mentoring system for organizers and participants as we scale. We partner with external organizations to cluster courses and create reputable schools of open learning. Examples are the P2PU/Mozilla School of Webcraft which was our prototype experiment, School of Data with Open Knowledge Foundation, School of Social Innovation, School of Ed, and School of Maths.
P2PU is made up of a large community of committed and enthusiastic volunteers, and a small team of staff. The following people are part of the P2PU staff who keep things running smoothly:
While learning in itself is a valuable goal, getting credit for what you've done is also important to gain social and economic opportunities. As P2PU develops, we are experimenting with new ways of recognising learning. Assessment of each other becomes intrinsic in the community learning process. Like open source software communities, the participants in a learning group provide feedback to each other, reviewing and improving each others' work. Peers in a course review and critique each others' work and P2PU digital badges will be offered to signal that you've completed a course. We want learners to get recognition for their achievements, but we don't issue any kind of accredited or official certificates ourselves.
P2PU is largely run by volunteers, however we have also received funding to cover our operating costs from the Hewlett Foundation, the Shuttleworth Foundation, the Mozilla Foundation and the Digital Media and Learning Competition. The University of California at Irvine generously offered to incubate us and help with administrative and legal support when we needed it. You can learn more about our fantastic supporters here. Thanks!!!
P2PU is working with many different people and organizations on all facets of our work. In particular, P2PU would like to recognize the efforts of: the staff of Creative Commons for their advice and collaborative awareness-raising and research support; etc.
As P2PU is in its beginning phases we are open to others who wish to monitor our progress for research purposes. The field of online learning and open / peer2peer learning and collaboration is in rapid development, both when it comes to available technological platforms and social models for organizing. We have been inspired by a number of very successful pilots and see the P2PU as building on these pioneering courses. We will be continually monitoring and evaluating the progress, making many changes along the way and hopefully developing new models of collaboration which not only benefit P2PU but also other projects in which communities of volunteers attempt to work together. We will actively promote and support research, especially action research, on the P2PU model and make it a priority to share information and reflections with the larger community on a regular basis. The P2PU will look very different in three or five years from how it looked when we started it, but the only way to get there is to jump in and try. We invite anyone interested in doing research on the P2PU to contact us.