The world of open learning has nearly limitless potential for breaking down barriers to entry and making the world’s knowledge available to all. But how can you guarantee that learners feel accomplished and connected in a world mediated by technology, while ensuring that learning feels trustworthy, reliable, and meaningful?
Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU) was founded on the belief that access alone is not enough; more needs to be done to make learners feel at home in a world that’s increasingly governed by technology, interfaces, and digital communities. Further, much of the wealth of training knowledge is mediated by universities and institutions, leaving nontraditional learners feeling alienated and out of reach.
To that end, P2PU has set out on a mission to train librarians, community leaders, and educators who are looking to take advantage of free open courseware and make them more engaging and meaningful for a wider community of learners. Their work is grounded firmly in the belief that non-formal, community based learning can be an agent for change and can improve the ways that individuals take advantage of open resources.
A key component to their approach is learning circles – lightly-facilitated, localized, in-person study groups for people taking online courses. These small, community-based workshops and meetings aim to help learners better take advantage of open resources to formulate their own questions and opinions, ensure that content and tools are effective for learners, and help individuals advance towards achieving their own goals.
Beyond the facilitating work achieved in learning circles, P2PU also trains participants to act as evangelists for the causes that make learning in the world of open access possible. P2PU is at the forefront of creating a new cohort of champions for digital equity, open education, and improved libraries. By not only training their students in the skills they need to take digital learning far and wide, but giving them the resources and language that they need to make sure this movement is lasting and always driving forward.
And in 2018, P2PU is redoubling their efforts to grow their mission and scope. They’ve launched a new online hub for facilitator tools and engagement, and they’re strengthening the infrastructure that they’ll need to take their method even further than its gone in the past.
Access isn’t everything in the world of “open” – and P2PU recognizes that much needs to be done in order to make sure these exciting developments are effective in a lasting way. The door is open, and what we do to get people to walk through it is crucial to deciding the future of the open movement.