"Passion based learning" -- You know, I like that very much. I took classes at university that I didn't want to at all. But here, I can learn more about what I'm passionate or even curious about.
Interpretation of the word "university"
While I am getting familiar with this new platform, I am writing some initial comments on what the word “university” can mean in P2PU compared to a “traditional” university. Because P2PU is an almost entirely virtual organization (as far as I know of, at least), while traditional universities also offer face-to-face classroom education, I think it is a good idea to restrict my comments on comparing the virtual environment at P2PU to the virtual environments most prevalent at traditional universities. The two environments are underpinned by very different assumptions, which give us some idea on what “university” can mean in the two cases.
1) The virtual environment at P2PU is open and decentralized. This means that people are allowed taking, embedding, remixing and distributing content. In fact, P2PU provides only a bare minimum of tools that people need to work individually and together with others, then people can use a lot of off-site tools to do their job. This is what happened in the course Open Governance and Learning, organized by Joe and I. The P2PU virtual environment is something that people can construct for themselves, by selecting the tools they want to use, the communities they want to join, the resources they want to assemble, and the things they want to write. In this respect, it can support a demand-pull model (Seely-Brown & Adler, 2008), which offers learners access to resources and people. This models privileges connectedness over amassing of information, which is the goal of the supply-push model, which aims at building a repository of knowledge in learners’ heads. According to Seely-Brown and Adler, the demand-pull model supports “passion-based learning, motivated by the student either wanting to become a member of a particular community of practice or just wanting to learn about, make, or perform something”. I think that this passion-based learning is what P2PU is mostly based on.
2) The virtual environments most prevalent at traditional universities is the learning management system (LMS) embedding the traditional classroom model, in which the teachers is the “authority” who selects resources, structures activities, and then “transfers” information and knowledge to students. The supply-push model prevail here. While the P2PU environment taps into the plentiful open educational resources and on a culture of sharing, a LMS is based on the idea that resources and expertise are scarce, the good one are even scarcer and require a filter to be selected and separated from the bad ones. Passion-based learning may not necessarily be the reason why people enroll university courses.