Peeragogy Handbook

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* Book: Title::Peeragogy Handbook, a Resource for Self-organizing Self-learners. Author::Howard Rheingold and Peeragogy Team.




'With YouTube, Wikipedia, search engines, free chatrooms, blogs, wikis, and video communication, today’s self-learners have power never dreamed-of before. What does any group of self-learners need to know in order to self-organize learning about any topic? The Peeragogy Handbook is a volunteer-created and maintained resource for bootstrapping peer learning.

- Self-learners: largely self-directed learners who take it upon themselves to find useful ways to learn.

This project seeks to empower the worldwide population of self-motivated learners who use digital media to connect with each other, to co-construct knowledge, to co-learn. Co-learning is ancient; the capacity for learning by imitation and more, to teach others what we know, is the essence of human culture. We are human because we learn together. Today, however, the advent of digital production media and distribution/communication networks has raised the power of co-learning to a new level.

If you want to learn how to fix a pipe, solve a partial differential equation, write software, you are seconds away from know-how via YouTube, Wikipedia and search engines. Access to technology and access to knowledge, however, isn’t enough. Learning is a social, active, and ongoing process. What would a motivated group of self-learners need to know to agree on a subject or skill, find and qualify the best learning resources about that topic, select and use appropriate communication media to co-learn it? Beyond technology, what do they need to know about learning and putting learning programs together? What does a group of people need to know to use today’s digital resources to co-learn a subject? This handbook is intended to answer that last question and provide a toolbox for co-learners.

Although “paragogy” is a more rationally derived word that extends “pedagogy” (teaching children) and “androgogy” (teaching adults), we’re using the word peeragogy because many people get the point as soon as we use the word. (In some places, we style the word “pæragogy” to remind the reader of the fusion of “peer” and “para-” modalities: we will say more about this later on.)

Our experience within this project has been that flattened hierarchies do not necessarily mean decisions go by consensus. The handbook is in part a “collaboration” and in part a collection of single-author works. Often the lines and voices are blurred. One constant throughout the book is our interest in making something useful. To this end, the book comes with numerous activities, and is available under non-restrictive legal terms (you can reuse portions of it however you see fit). For those who seek more evidence-based, scholarly scaffolding for learning practices, we also maintain a literature review of learning theories that pertain to self-organized peer learning. We also include instructions on how to join us in further developing the resource."


"Peeragogy is a collection of techniques for collaborative learning and collaborative work. By learning how to “work smart” together, we hope to leave the world in a better state than it was when we arrived.

Indeed, humans have always learned from each other. But for a long time — until the advent of the Web and widespread access to digital media — schools have had an effective monopoly on the business of learning. Now, with access to open educational resources and free or inexpensive communication platforms, groups of people can learn together outside as well as inside formal institutions. All of this prompted us to reconsider the meaning of “peer learning.”

The Peeragogy Handbook isn’t a normal book; it is an example of the kind of work that’s only just now possible. The book is an evolving guide, and it tells a collaboratively written story that you can help write. Using this book, you will develop new norms for the groups you work with — whether online, offline, or both. Every section includes exercises and research methods that you can apply to build and sustain strong and exciting collaborations. When you read the book, you will get to know the authors and will see how we have applied these ideas: in classrooms, in research, in business, and more.

You’ll meet Julian, who put the ideas to work as one of the directors of a housing association; Roland, a professional journalist and change-maker; Charlie, a language teacher and writer who works with experimental media for fun and profit; and Charlotte, an indie publisher who wants to become better at what she does by helping others learn how to do it well too — as well as many other contributors from around the world.

The book focuses on techniques for building a strong group, organizing a learning space, doing cooperative work, and conducting effective peer assessment. These major sections are complemented by a catalog of design patterns and notes on relevant technologies. You should, for this reason, think of the book as first and foremost a practical guide. As you work through these chapters, you will begin mastering these techniques and developing the way you think about getting things done.

The following brief section is a guide to using the book itself. Then, we provide a succinct overview of the book’s contents which will help you begin thinking like a peeragogue." (


"The main body of the book is divided into four thematic sections: Convene, Organize, Cooperate, Assess. The section on convening is useful when starting a new peeragogy project or thinking about how to apply peeragogy ideas in an existing collaboration. We talk about how peer learning is organized into “courses” and “spaces”, again drawing on our direct experience in the peeragogy project. The chapter on cooperation talks about how to co-facilitate discussions, wiki workflows, and live sessions, and offers some strategies that help identify and overcome blind spots. In peeragogy, real problems solved provide the key appropriate metric. We use the idea of “return on investment” as a core feature of our assessment strategy, and we assess the peeragogy project itself as an example. This material is complemented by a catalog of design patterns and some specific ideas about how to get involved in doing peeragogy, including a sample learning plan that can be tailored to specific cases. The Peeragogy Handbook is available under a Creative Commons Zero copyright waiver: it can be freely adapted to suit the FLOK Project’s needs. For instance, there is a short version of the handbook in Spanish, included as a chapter in Educación, medios digitales y cultura de la participación (2013), and a full Spanish translation of the book will begin shortly, in partnership with the LATin P roject (Latin American Open Textbooks Initiative) coordinated by Xavier Ochoa at ESPOL (Guayaquil)."

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