I had not heard of the term peeragogy before, which is a theory of peer learning using online environments. However, it is something that I have been ‘doing’ when collaborating with teacher librarian colleagues when developing and facilitating Librarian workshops for the International Baccalaureate (IB) since 2008. It certainly “relies on self-motivation of the people in the mutual learning space and encouragement of mutual respect and openness”(coursenotes). Peeragogy has been made easier by technology and the internet, which allows us to work simultaneously (synchronous) and at individual times (asynchronous), and across time zones.

The above link and one of our course references is Howard Rheingold (2012) speaking about peeragogy.  The quotes below (in italics) come from Howard Rheingold’s article: Toward Peeragogy (Monday, January 23, 2012).

Perhaps one of the strongest statements was in Rheingold’s opening statement:

“The more I give my teacher-power to students and encourage them to take more responsibility for their own learning, the more they show me how to redesign my ways of teaching.”

I then made a personal connection to my own learning during the coursework of our MEdKNDI:

“We had learned that learning to collaborate ought to be collaborative — the teams should interact with the other students in the class as co-responsible learners during the collaboration process, not just as an audience for the final product.”

Part of the coursework and the collaborative sharing is finding new resources to extend my learning as I did in Rheingold’s blogpost (Monday, January 23, 2012).   I must admit to knowing quite a few of these different ways for small groups to work together to:

  • present knowledge in different and (if you do it right) compelling ways

  • engage active participation by the entire class instead of broadcasting to it like a passive audience.

Indeed, the tools now available have grown exponentially. It is a reminder that we need to move beyond expecting our students or presenting ourselves in ‘PowerPoint’. Yet, it PP is such a ‘fallback guy’.

Another statement that resonated was:

“The ultimate test of peer learning is to organize a course without the direction of an instructor.”

I am thinking how difficult this would be at the elementary level of schooling. Yet, upon reflection, if the skills and strategies have been introduced and consolidated, then surely our students are able to achieve the above ‘ultimate test’. The International Baccalaureate culminating program of the Primary Years Program Exhibition where students work collaboratively in inquiry, with minimal (scaffolded) support by teachers.

I was interested to see Rheingold referencing Deschooling Society, Ivan Illich predicted in 1971 that learners of the future would find each other and use information technologies to form “learning webs” and “networks”. This was one of my subscribed texts when either studying education for my B.A. or for my teaching degree (it was a long time ago!).  Even Wikipedia states how:

“Illich argued that the use of technology to create decentralized webs could support the goal of creating a good educational system:

A good educational system should have three purposes: it should provide all who want to learn with access to available resources at any time in their lives; empower all who want to share what they know to find those who want to learn it from them; and, finally, furnish all who want to present an issue to the public with the opportunity to make their challenge known.[3]

It does make me wonder why it takes our educational institutions so long to change.

Reference:

Rheingold, H. (2012). Toward peeragogy. DML Central, 23 [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://dmlcentral.net/blog/howard-rheingold/toward-peeragogy

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