We live where no one knows the answer and the struggle is to figure out the question. 
Welcome to the Peeragogy Handbook! We want to kick things off with a candid confession: we’re not going to pretend that this book is perfect. In fact, it’s not an ordinary book at all. The adventure starts when you get out your pen or pencil, or mouse and keyboard, and begin marking it up. It gets kicked into high gear when you join Peeragogy in Action. You’ll find a lot of friendly support as you write, draw, or dance your own peeragogical adventure. But first, what is peeragogy?
Peeragogy is a flexible framework of techniques for peer learning and peer knowledge production. Whereas pedagogy deals with the transmission of knowledge from teachers to students, peeragogy is what people use to produce and apply knowledge together. The strength of peeragogy is its flexibility and scalability. The learning mind-set and strategies that we are uncovering in the Peeragogy project can be applied in classrooms, hackerspaces, organizations, wikis, and interconnected collaborations across an entire society.
The Peeragogy Handbook is a compendium of know how for any group of people who want to co-learn any subject together, when none of them is an expert in the particular subject matter – learning together without one traditional teacher, especially using the tools and knowledge available online. What we say in the Handbook draws extensively on our experiences working together on the Handbook – and our experiences in other collaborative projects that drew us here in the first place. The best way to learn about peeragogy is to do peeragogy, not just read about it. Towards that end, coauthors and fans of the Handbook have an active Google+ community, conveniently called Peeragogy in Action. We maintain a regular schedule of weekly meetings that you’re welcome to join. The Handbook includes a short syllabus, which also called “Peeragogy in Action”, and you can work through this with your own group as you read through the book.
You’re warmly invited to combine your local projects with the global effort, and get involved in making the next edition of the Handbook. That doesn’t necessarily require you to do extensive writing or editing. We’re always interested in new use cases, tricky problems, and interesting questions. In fact, our view is that any question is a good question.
Here are some of the ways in which the current edition of the Handbook is not perfect. You’re welcome to add to the list! These are places where you can jump in and get involved. This list gives a sense of the challenges that we face putting peeragogy into action.
We include references and recommended reading in the Handbook, and there are a lot more links that have been shared in the Peeragogy in Action community. It’s a ongoing task to catalog and improve these resources – including books, videos, images, projects, technology, etc. In short, let’s “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”! As a good start, Charlotte Pierce has been maintaining a spreadsheet under the heading “survey” in our Google Drive.
A short “workbook” containing interviews and some activities follows this introduction, but it could be much more interactive. Amanda Lyons and Paola Ricaurte made several new exercises and drawings that we could include. A more developed workbook could be split off from the handbook into a separate publication. It would be great to have something simple for onramping. For example, the workbook could be accompanied by video tutorials for new contributors.
Paola Ricaurte points out that a really useful book will be easy to sell. For teachers interested in peeragogy, this needs to be something that can be use in workshops or on their own, to write in, to think through issues. We’re partway there, but to improve things, we really need a better set of activities.
The next time Paola or someone else uses the handbook or workbook to run a workshop, she can say, “turn to this page, let’s answer this question, you have 10 minutes.” There are lots of places where the writing in the handbook could be made more interactive. One technique Paola and Amanda used was turning “statements” from the handbook into “questions.”
Amanda also put together the latest cover art, with some collaboration from Charlotte using inDesign. A more large-scale visual design would be a good goal for the 4th Edition of the book. Fabrizio Terzi, who made the handbook cover art for the 1st Edition, has been working on making our website more friendly. So, again, work is in progress but we could use your help.
We’ve uploaded the content of the book to Github and are editing the “live” version of the site in Markdown. For this and previous print editions, we’ve converted to LaTeX. There are a number of workflow bottlenecks: First, people need to be comfortable updating the content on the site. Second, it would be good to have more people involved with the technical editing work that goes into compiling for print. Remember, when we produce an actual physical handbook, we can sell it. In fact, because all co-authors have transferred their copyright in this book to the Public Domain, anyone can print and sell copies, convert the material into new interactive forms, or do just about anything with it.
Translating a book that’s continually being revised is pretty much a nightmare. With due respect to the valiant volunteer efforts that have been attempted so far, it might be more convenient for everyone involved to just pay professional translators or find a way to foster a multi-lingual authoring community, or find a way to create a more robust process of collective translation. Ideas are welcome, and we’re making some small steps here. More on this below.
In short: If we make the Handbook even more useful, then it will be no problem to sell more copies of it. That is one way to make money to cover future expenses. It’s a paradigmatic example for other business models we might use in the future. But even more important than a business model is a sense of our shared vision, which is why we’re working on a “Peeragogy Creed” (after the Taekwondo creed, which exists in various forms, one example is ). No doubt you’ll find the first version on peeragogy.org soon! Chapter 7 contains a further list of practical next steps for the project.
Joshua Schimel, 2012. “Writing Science”, Oxford University Press.
Taekwondo Student Creed, World Martial Arts Academy, http://www.worldtaekwondo.com/handbook.htm