the social life of information - description of p2pu model

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Philipp Schmidt

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Jan 9, 2009, 9:03:27 AM1/9/09
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I am re-reading John Seely Brown's "The Social Life of Information" -
here are a few excerpts that are very relevant in the context of P2PU.
If you replace "videos" with OER, this sounds very similar to the kind
of learning communities P2PU is trying to create. Especially the role
of the tutor - not as someone who necessarily knows much more than the
others -- but as someone able to facilitate the learning process, who
is part of the group, makes a lot of sense.

[Copying this by hand - all typos/errors my fault]

Putting learners in contact with "the best in the field" has
definitive value. Peers turn out to be, however, an equally important
resource.

An early attempt at distance teaching by video revealed this quite
unexpectedly. Jim Gibbons, former dean of engineering at Stanford,
taught an engineering class to Stanford students and engineers from
HP. When it became impractical for the engineers to attend, Gibbons
started recording the class and sending the video to the engineers.
The engineers would watch these tapes as a group. At regular intervals
they would stop the tape and discuss what Gibbons and the class were
talking about, coming to some sort of collective understanding before
going on.

To Gibbon's surprise, the engineers, though they had lower academic
credentials coming into the course, consistently outperformed the
classroom students when tested on course material. This finding has
proved remarkably robust, and other courses using this "TVI" method
have had similar comparative success.

Gibbons has been careful to note, however, that the success did not
simply result from passing videos to learners. The name TVI stands for
tutored video instruction, and the method requires viewers to work as
a group and one person from that group to act as a tutor, helping the
group to help itself. This approach shows, then, that productive
learning may indeed rely heavily on face-to-face learning, but the
faces involved are not just those of master and apprentice. They
include fellow apprentices.

The ability of a group to construct their education collectively like
this recalls the way in which groups form and develop around
documents, as we noted in chapter 7. Together, members construct and
negotiate a shared meaning, bringing the grup along collectively
rather than individually. In the process, they became what the
literary critic Stanley Fish calls a "community of interpretation"
working toward a shared understanding of the matter under discussion.

TVI is not an easy answer. As Gibbons and his colleagues argue in one
discussion, "The logistics of creating videos, organizing training for
small groups, finding and training tutors, etc. can be daunting." For
many individual learners, of course, the logistics of finding a
group--which in Gibbon's approach precedes finding a tutor because the
tutor comes from the group--can also be daunting. So colleges and
universities play a critical role in providing this sort of access.

--
Jan Philipp Schmidt - "Sharing Nicely" at www.bokaap.net - "Hacking
Education" at www.peer2peeruniversity.org

Sidharth Jaggi

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Jan 9, 2009, 9:35:04 AM1/9/09
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Another lurker, thanks to John Britton :)

I'm teaching a small group graduate class this semester, and making it very web-based, centred around the class wiki. Within the two classes thus far this semester, it's already begun organizing itself nicely with almost as much online interaction as offline (real-life classroom :) interaction.

Commensurate with the comments below, and based on feedback from the internal Teaching Support Centre at CUHK, I've tried to make the lectures more like tutorials -- the primary didactic technique I'm using during the live classes is a sequence of questions (organized into problem sets), and the students interactively solve the problems in class. The questions cover the same material that would've been lectures, but after being broken into baby steps now the students actually solve the material themselves, with gentle prodding from me. The feedback I've been getting from the students is encouraging (after each meeting the students fill out a single-question questionaire asking them to rate the class on a scale of 0 to 10, and write in any specific comments).

My two bits (pun fully intended from this informaiton theorist :)

Any comments would indeed be very welcome, and I'll get back to lurking now :)
--
Sid.
--
Sidharth Jaggi.

u + i << v

Philipp Schmidt

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Jan 12, 2009, 3:42:41 AM1/12/09
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On Fri, Jan 9, 2009 at 4:35 PM, Sidharth Jaggi <sidh...@jaggi.name> wrote:
> Another lurker, thanks to John Britton :)
>
> I'm teaching a small group graduate class this semester, and making it very
> web-based, centred around the class wiki. Within the two classes thus far
> this semester, it's already begun organizing itself nicely with almost as
> much online interaction as offline (real-life classroom :) interaction.
>
> Commensurate with the comments below, and based on feedback from the
> internal Teaching Support Centre at CUHK, I've tried to make the lectures
> more like tutorials -- the primary didactic technique I'm using during the
> live classes is a sequence of questions (organized into problem sets), and
> the students interactively solve the problems in class. The questions cover
> the same material that would've been lectures, but after being broken into
> baby steps now the students actually solve the material themselves, with
> gentle prodding from me. The feedback I've been getting from the students is
> encouraging (after each meeting the students fill out a single-question
> questionaire asking them to rate the class on a scale of 0 to 10, and write
> in any specific comments).

Hi Sid:

Thanks for sharing! This is great.

I found especially the feedback very interesting:
* The scores are going up! I imagine students took a week or so to
figure out how this class works, but it's good to see that once they
understand - they seem to like it.
* Lots of comments after the second class, and fewer after the third.

For P2PU, especially during the pilot phase, a feedback/comments
mechanism that let's us track what works and what doesn't -- those
might be different in different courses -- is very important. Using a
simple web-based form might be a good solution. In retrospect, are
there any specific questions you'd add -- besides asking for an
overall score and open-ended comments?

Getting more input from you on on how the course went -- what worked,
and what you would do differently in the future -- would be great and
help us avoid some of the traps. Maybe we can convince you to
intermittently come out of lurking ;-)

In the long-term, it would be great to have this or a similar course
run at P2PU as well. For that to happen, we'd need a tutor and find a
few more open/free materials to replace the textbooks. Do you think
any of your students might be interested in tutoring this course at
the P2PU in the future? You link to two textbooks that students can
check out of the library (or buy). Are there any good free/open online
materials that students could use to work through the course, and
answer the questions? I would guess that Wikipedia has some content to
start with - and maybe there are bits and pieces on the MIT or other
technical university's OCW sites.

> My two bits (pun fully intended from this informaiton theorist :)

Ha!

Best - P

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