[peeragogy-handbook] Practice

Joe Corneli joseph.corneli at hyperreal.enterprises
Thu Feb 11 22:49:56 UTC 2021


I thought it would be a good idea to copy in some long portions from the
notes. Also, people had a lot to say during the session.  And I have
quite a few things to say here looking again at the material.  Feel free
to skim ahead!


Let’s not throw out the idea of Peeragogy being one of the patterns —
even though some people find it confusing as the “first” pattern!

Here’s a suggestion that could make the peeragogy pattern more

What if — instead of being the first pattern on a list somewhere in the
middle of the book — Peeragogy is actually positioned as the “top level”
pattern, in a fully-patternized treatment of the book.  It’s a BIG
pattern and contains all of the other ones we present.

In other words:

- In a revised outline, everything up to the ‘pattern catalogue’
constitutes the introductory section and focuses on a clear and concise
statement of *the problem to be solved*, at a suitable level of
generality (basically, “Why peeragogy?”).

- Then, the next major section moves on to the overall *solution*:
namely, our pattern catalogue.  Within the solution there are many more
specific details, of course, and plenty of patterns.

- Finally — which is a little strange, but allowable — we get to the
*context*: namely, the ‘case studies’.  These case studies show
‘peeragogy in action’ and descibe the context in which we learned about
and practice the patterns.

To me this makes a great deal of sense!

In principle we could build further of outlining structure: for example,
sub-sections focusing on Convening, Organizing, Cooperating, Assessment,
and Sharing could themselves be presented as "big" patterns (with
sub-patterns inside), following the same kind of structure mentioned


>From Howard's video, we have the saying "peeragogy is for any group of
people who want to learn anything."  But what we do when we ‘do
peeragogy’ is a more specific.  We look at what’s going on in
collaborations and we do this collaboratively, and try to share what we
learn.  How does that work?  It works by observing the learning process
that we go through, and trying to distill and communicate what we learn
together.  This is a high-level summary of the ‘solution’ that’s on
offer in the handbook: some guidance on how to do peeragogy.


Here’s a quote from anthropologist Tim Ingold:

  "As educators based in university departments, most [academics] devote
  much of their lives to working with students. They probably spend
  considerably more time in the classroom than anywhere they might call
  the field. Some enjoy this more than others, but they do not, by and
  large, regard time in the classroom as an integral part of their
  [professional] practice. Students are told that [scholarship] is what
  we do with our colleagues, and with other people in other places, but
  not with them. Locked out of the powerhouse of [...] knowledge
  construction, all they can do is peer through the windows that our
  texts and teachings offer them."

But what peeragogy helps people ‘peer’ in a very different way!  Not
through windows but as teammates.  It unlocks the powerhouse of
knowledge construction!  This is exciting, and I think that education
could benefit a lot from more liaisons with peeragogy.


It seems to me that in an educational setting people often accept the
defaults, which can include a lot of inefficiency.  This may not be a
good use of anyone’s time, but on the other hand, people don’t seem to
feel empowered to make changes together.  Why are the faculty not
running screaming from the classroom and trying to build AI tutoring
programs that will solve the problems that their students confront?
Because they don’t know how to build those systems.  The certainly don’t
know how to guide the students to build those systems.  But, maybe
that’s OK.  Maybe they could adopt a more reflective manner, inspired by
“The Ignorant Schoolmaster”, and work on learning about learning.  Our
experiences in HRU classes and in the peeragogy project is all pretty
different from most mainstream learning experiences.  Maybe we can’t
change mainstream education, but we can certainly cultivate a culture of
learning outside of mainstream education.  And maybe it will percolate
in there too.


Certainly there are different modes of education and learning!
Universities and education more broadly are often co-opted as state
apparatus (cf. Models and Mirrors for an example), but ‘private’
education, may be aligned with somewhat different purposes.  And,
there’s no logical reason why peeragogy would have to fit within one
state’s boundaries.


Grif and Stephan both questioned this vigorously.  Maybe it’s not a
particularly important goal.  If we built something that offered high
quality education then accreditation might be easy to secure.  The
advantages are that if people do want ‘degrees’ then we could award
them.  But maybe degrees are becoming somewhat incidental.  They are
symbolic distillations of something more complex.


Is the metaphor of the university accurate for what we do?  Does the
actual organization of our effort map abstractly onto the layout of a
university in any sensible way?  Here we could look ‘within’ the
University, within the Peeragogy project, and perhaps more interestingly
within free/open culture (and peer learning/production) more broadly.
In the Patterns of Peeragogy paper we looked at Wikipedia as a source of
examples, but if we want to really cover the whole domain in which
‘peeragogy’ applies.  Just for example, it can include people solving
problems in teams *at work*.  That isn’t what a university brings to
mind.  So, if the university helps as an initial metaphor, maybe we also
need some further metaphors.


E.g., we asked: "How would it compare with historical efforts like the
Tuskegee Institute that involved students directly in the production of
physical infrastructure?"

One answer: Here, it would be about producing the digital infrastructure


We may need to rethink our pattern template to make the language work
better as a whole.  The image that shows all of the patterns connected
with each other is pretty useless.  It would be better to create some
"hierarchy" (if so, then we are not so ‘non-hierarchical’ after all!)
and help people navigate the different layers of the map.  I’m a bit
inspired by the Wholeness Egg idea here.  But, even at the level of an
individual pattern: how do we think about links between different
patterns, or from pattern-to-pattern?


Can we offer some useful criticism of the examples we cite — "Liberating
Voices, Pedagogical Patterns, and Learning Patterns"?  What’s missing?
Now that we know quite a bit more about patterns than we did when we
wrote this stuff, what can we say about how our thinking has evolved?

How similar is what we're doing here to e.g. Wise Democracy and others?
The "solving problems" (common sense) aspect of design patterns is one
thing, but it is also interesting to observe and learn about *new*
patterns, and the ‘patterns’ for doing *that* might require us to give
up on some of our common sense!


Do we do anything that’s really different from what’s in Alexander's
patterns?  We’re arguing here that most pattern languages achieve
rationality, but don’t actually work as living languages.  So, sure, by
their nature patterns have some flexibility, but maybe there’s something
else going on here.  We do a reasonably good job explaining what we’re
talking about here — ‘For example, everyone may agree that the group
needs to go “that way.” But how far? How fast?’ — but the presentation
could be clearer.


Stephan: Is the idea to avoid making abstract patterns more specific, so
they remain universal and remain translatable/interpretable for
different contexts?

Hmm.. I think there’s a criterion about being as abstract as possible
while still being useful?  We’re trying to build an intuitive language
that people can actually use, including intuitive terms and norms.  So,
these have to be somewhat concrete, but at the same time they also have
to be fairly general.  How do we *find* the
abstract-but-still-interesting patterns?  This seems to be what Spinoza
is talking about in the Ethics (which I’m still reading, so I hope I can
comment more when I get to the end of it).


The difference between what a swimming instructor (or swimming coach!)
might do and what we can do remotely, online, using media is definitely
worth reflecting on.  It seems as though there’s no particular problem
with sending instructions (‘do as I say’) over long distances: that’s
what we use to program machines.  But do we have serious obstacles to
doing things together remotely?  If our goal was to replicate in-person
contact, then it would be hard or impossible.  But if our goal is to
organise and do things together-but-separately, in a ‘low-touch’
fashion, then don’t we already have some good patterns for that?
Perhaps the challenge is (getting back to how-far/how-fast) that
different people will have different expectations, tools, patterns.  So,
in open source software we do things one way, whereas users of Google
Docs do things a different way.  We loose ‘touch’... which is too bad
when it comes to “showing” but even more to “interacting”.  Perhaps
we’re in an ongoing process of inventing ways of ways to cross


Make sure things like Table 6.1 vs. figure 6.1 come across correctly.


We’ll need a good grasp of forces, patterns, and pattern languages, all
together!  We should say that forces are in conflict (if, indeed, we
intend to treat them that way, as Alexander does).


Do we want to use the simple problem/solution/context pattern




Does it make sense to reference, e.g., ‘Heartbeat’ before people have
encountered it?  Maybe we should be more careful about that (even if we
want the book to be readable out of order, many will want to read it in
order).  It's confusing to have a “motivating example” before we have
introduced the terminology — even if we are trying to exhibit “do with
me” style learning.


It would be great if each pattern is readable as poetry!

But let’s not get confused.

What problems are we solving?  E.g., with Heartbeat we say:

« How can we make the project “real” for participants? Keep up a
regular, sustaining rhythm. »

That’s not entirely intuitive.  Does the regular heartbeat make things
real, or just convenient?


We’d probably want a footnote or something explaining that it is a
conference “about pattern languages of programs”
But then we would have to explain what that is!

Maybe it’s worth it, especially if we talk about how what we’re working
on here could feed into submission(s) for subsequent years.

But at the same time we may want to be critical towards PLoP for not
doing things in a more ‘open’ way, much in the way we might be critical
towards educational institutions that aren’t as open and creative as we
would like.


« patterns could/should be augmented via a hyperglossary for easy
  lookup, containing a link to the actual, full source (if needed or
  whatever that may mean, with an attached index of all
  occurrences/uses, or examples, related projects, whatever?). »


« This doesn't make much sense at this point in reading.  It could make
  a bit more sense later on.  But people can come back and have a look
  at it.  However, there could also be another better diagram? »

Maybe part of the issue here is, as I was getting at above, the
‘problems’ should already be made clear in the Introduction.

If we want to make a summary of problems-and-solutions we better really
know what we’re talking about — but if we do, this sort of overview
could become a (new) Quickstart guide!  We may soon want several
different quickstart guides, derived from the existing content in
various different ways.


If the word "design" is key to this discussion, then maybe it’s good to
splice in some things from Joe’s paper “Patterns of Design”.


[I wonder if we can find some interesting things in here in my notes,
thinking of this session as something like a ‘focus group’ among the
potential ‘users’ of peeragogy. -JC 11-Feb-2021.]

Roland got involved with the Peeragogy Handbook as a journalist right at
the start, and has had many interactions with Howard Rheingold.  He’s
convened many people to read books together, including most recently the
Virtual Community.  Then wanted to look at the Peeragogy Handbook
because it is in a similar spirit.

Grif, Director at P2PU. Lives in Boston, speaking with Joe and Charlie
and Charlotte for about a month.  They have a lot of documentation about
learning circles and peer-to-peer learning strategies.  Identify
interesting parts of v3, and propose a few sections for v4.  This is one
of the sections that Grif found most recently.  Partner also recently
attended PLoP and liked it a lot!  So very familiar with CA-style
patterns and excited to think about it in peer learning context.

Lauren - has met Robert before, Stefan has met several times.  Kids are
doing something! … Things are good. I had a good conversation with Dil
Green, in London, who has been in pattern languages stuff, exploring
stuff with David Atkinson, who is also interested in exploring pattern
language.  So that reinvigorated desire to be involved in this space.

Charles: glad to be here, really into this in a lot of ways. Trying to
have dinner and have been on a series of other calls with barely a break
between!  Also have been on a deep dive into pattern languages in
particular, Wise Democracy project.  Through that experience, have
gotten deeply into pattern languages.  And have realised as my learning
journey has gone on that pattern languages are sort of all around:
sometimes they are articulated as such, or not.  So I’ve begun to see
through this lens.  I also wanted to give a shout to the I Ching which I
consider as the original pattern language.

Robert: Transitionary period, generalist / jack-of-all-trades. I have
explored things like pattern lang, self-directed learning w/in a
peer-to-peer context; also how that overlaps with technology. P2P D-Web
spaces. Online peer learning community groups have been kicking around
for a while. Thinking about how to use open source technologies to
create open online peer learning spaces.


Grif: The structured formalities you have to go towards to become
accredited would render the work we are doing at P2PU
impossible. Six years of accreditation on “College Unbound” is the
best example that has gone this route -- we could connect with
someone there who has gone down that route.  But who are you trying
to serve and why is the starting point?  Since most of the work is
with public libraries and at the margins of standard education, it
would not make sense.  For me and P2PU, peer learning exists for an
alternate form of learning that sits alongside formal institutions
-- whether people are coming from or going into formal education.
Linux Professional Institution partnership does certification and
accreditation.  If there’s one thing we’re trying to do at P2PU,
it’s looking at what people want to do, and how they want to model

Joe: E.g. Bennington model.

“Here are the bits of the Bennington model that we’ve co-opted.”

None of these examples is perfect -- but there are a few things that
we can find in each place.  So we could start a quilt of different
places that are trying things.

In this sense, Peeragogy can be an example!

The overall framework at the moment has been about “practice what we
preach” -- moving more towards: “If we imagine the university along
principles of peer learning, what does it look like?”

They’re excited at Harvard, but they might be even more excited in
other locales where they don’t have access.

The organizational structure of the Handbook is talking in terms
that everyone knows (here are the core elements).  Here’s what’s
important about assessment, convening, facilitation etc. -- then we
can address what the world today is “Dystopian Reality”, testing,
scarcity, what has/hasn’t value.

Then from there we could use the other stuff with patterns to start
to think about these differently… This would really snap.

Grif has a nice book, Sustainable Learning Community about
University of New Hampshire -- implementing across all aspects in
the University.  Chapters: Teaching and Learning, Climate and
Society, Trash Collection -- thinking about the curriculum this way.
What does it mean to take a sustainability-first approach?

“University: an Owners Manual” from Harvard School of Arts and
Sciences.  Steeped into an elite university.

The Oregon Experiment, by Christopher Alexander is a similar one.

Neil Mulholland book could provide another example.

More examples from P2PU?

Facilitation strategies, content, where does expertise come from: An
expanded “online courses” section -- this could be a place to

Cf. “Here’s Everything that looks like a Learning Circle” -
Pepperdine link.


Charles: “The Paper Chase” - taking accreditation, getting paid, or
having it be a component.  Still at the beginning of the material.

Roland: I was thinking about issues such as fake news, fake
information. Maybe accreditation can also be a defense against bogus
institutions.  Maybe there could be a P2P learning group for
anti-vaxxers, who could give this a “pseudo” accreditation with
“lots of interesting patterns” but actually it is crap information.
Maybe accreditation could be a safeguard.

Charles: Covertly insert our values?

Grif: Accreditation connotes competencies that have been gained, but
it also then ends up serving as a gate.  There’s a section on
assessment at the end of Peeragogy Handbook. I liked that there
wasn’t a big talk about accreditation up front. There’s something
good about being able to demonstrate you participated -- but without
making this depend on gatekeeping.  So make assessment/accreditation
come with the things you learned, rather...

Dr Joseph A. Corneli (https://github.com/holtzermann17)

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