Learner Participation and Engagement in Open Online Courses: Insights from the Peer 2 Peer University

September 10, 2013

Recent developments in massive open online courses (MOOCs) have brought renewed attention to online learning, but most of the attention has been centered on courses offered through platforms such as Coursera and edX. This paper focuses on the importance of examining alternative, large-scale learning initiatives that promote more participatory modes of education production and delivery. It presents a comprehensive description of the Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU), a social computing platform that promotes peer-created, peer-led, online learning environments. Using log data from the P2PU platform, the ecosystem of this learner-generated education platform is described. The descriptive analysis highlights P2PU’s growth in terms of the participatory learning environments that have been created – such as online study groups, courses, and challenges – and also describes the participation patterns of P2PU members. This paper provides one of the first empirical descriptions of an emerging open learning platform and illuminates how log data from the platform, particularly in relation to open courses, open badges, and learning tasks embedded in courses, can be used to track development of courses and engagement in learning activities across P2PU. The analyses reported here are aimed at helping researchers understand the P2PU ecosystem and identify potential areas for future study as P2PU works to open its data for public analysis.

MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching

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