We had a great session today, discussing the Peeragogy project and welcoming it as something our Metacaugs group wants to work on. Peeragogy is an example of peer-to-peer learning and at the same time - how very meta - they produce the Peeragogy Handbook. The group works on version 4 of the Handbook and looks for concrete examples of people using the handbook in order to get peer-to-peer learning projects up and running. Or examples of how people do not use the Handbook even though they read it.
In discussing the project we used the Lean Canvas methodology. This method allows people to have a structured discussion about a project - can be a start-up, a non-profit project, writing a book or organizing a course - and it only takes about 20 minutes on average.
The canvas asks traditional questions such as “what is the problem you want to solve”, “what are the metrics”, “what is your solution”, “what is the unique advantage you have” etc, turning the questions and answers in a single sheet.
We got some great insights applying this method. We realized we lack metrics about the Handbook project, but we also got inspired: how about restructuring the book into smaller booklets, using interactive gaming concepts? Making it far more visual?
I once used the Lean Canvas method during a conference, where it was used in small teams sitting physically together filling in the canvas on sheets of paper. In this case we used the interactive online tool Canvanizer to do the same: it makes it easy to fill in the canvas collaboratively by writing and attaching virtual post-it notes.
Our little exercise made me believe even more firmly that Metacaugs can act as a kind of accelerator for ideas and projects. We’re proud to use our peer-to-peer learning methods for projects such as Peeragogy, Metamaps and QIARK while also being a “salon” where we have slow and in-depth discussions of books about the accelerating changes impacting our societies.
QIARK is one of the projects Metacaugs tries to help as an accelerator. QIARK is a platform that aims to crowdsource answers to questions by amplifying the intelligence and judgment capacity of individuals and groups. The platform is currently being beta tested and has a patent pending in the US.
They raised £121,220 on Crowdcube, exceeding the target of £99,750.
QIARK will attend the conference Hack Belgium which is held from the 4th to the 6th of May in Brussels. The organisers hope to transform Brussels during three days into a laboratory of the future, hacking the disruptive possibilities of technological change.
Hacking is described as a way of finding highly creative and unorthodox solutions to problems that currently can’t be solved by conventional means’. People from very diverse industries will explore new possibilities, develop concrete projects (supported by mentors) and present their ideas.
QIARK is also hoping to be part of the Zurich TedX conference in November.
Our Metacaugs group is very busy reading, building and organizing but the question arises: what is our mission statement? In our Orientation Guidebook we mentioned these purposes:
All this is related to our reading, chapter by chapter, of books such as Thank you for being late by Thomas Friedman and Whiplash by Jeff Howe and Joi Ito.
However, we do lots of others things - related, but different and ‘owned’ by specific members of our group.
a platform that aims to crowdsource answers to questions by amplifying the intelligence and judgment capacity of individuals and groups.
Qiark succesfully raised money on Crowdcube.
a free and open source platform that supports real-time sense-making, distributed collaboration, and the creative intelligence of individuals, organizations and communities. We are currently in an invite-only beta.
All these projects have something in common: they are ambitious and want to make the world to a better place. It’s about enhancing thinking, decision-making, collaborating. The people involved are pretty smart and can give great feedback. Some are experts in decision-making methods, others in visualizing thought processes, are trained educators, communication specialists… Most of them got an extensive training by author, thinker, artist and educator Howard Rheingold involving theory and practice about collaboration and “mind-amplifying tools” (think social bookmarks, wikis, forums, blogs, synchronous online discussions, collaborative mindmapping).
So I thought - maybe the mission statement of Metacaugs is being an accelerator. People come to us with ideas and projects which potentially have a huge impact on humanity and we accelerate processes and ideas by unleashing our peer-to-peer methods and intelligence.
This is not a very original idea, as it is being practised by anohter cohort of Rheingold-alumni.
This how the Peeragogy Accelerator explains its purpose and main characteristics:
The purpose of the Peeragogy Accelerator is to use the power of peer learning to help build great organizations.
We will do this by investing time and energy, rather than money, building a distributed community of peer learners, and a strongly vetted collection of best practices. Our project complements others’ work on sites like Wikiversity and P2PU, but with an applied flavor. It is somewhat similar to Y Combinator and other start-up accelerators or incubators, but we’re doing it the commons based peer production way.
Four stages are suggested:
Personally I would add a specific methodology: Lean Canvas.
Business plans take too long to write, are seldom updated, and almost never read by others but documenting your hypotheses is key.
Lean Canvas solves this problem using a 1-page business model that takes under 20 minutes to create.
Search for “Lean Canvas” to find a wealth of tutorials. Here you find the Canvas document.
A business incubator is a company that helps new and startup companies to develop by providing services such as management training or office space. (Wikipedia)
In our case it could be Metacaugs providing a more formal structure (that of a non-profit or foundation) for fledgling projects needing not only peer2peer inspiration and advice but also a formal identity in order to present projects, participate in competitions etc.
As of yet Metacaugs itself has no formal identity, but we could consider changing that.
Metacaugs is in practice evolving into the direction of an accelerator, maybe an incubator. This would be a great way to continue the work done by Howard Rheingold and his co-learners. The diversity of the Rheingold-alumni made it until now difficult to leverage the power of the network, but using Slack as our main communication hub and adopting an accelerator methodology, this could change for the better.
What is METACAUGS? Many things… It’s first use was just as a label that was sufficiently ambiguous and undefined. The reason this was needed was that we wanted to start collaborating in an open way together, but to name what we were doing would be to define it and thus limit it. The name METACAUGS does have meaning, but this meaning is something that is also evolving and being co-created.
One way METACAUGS manifests is as a co-learning network that’s using Slack as it’s virtual hub.
The purpose of what we are doing is to 1) Gain a deeper understanding of the world: to learn how technology, environment and economy are changing at an accelerating pace 2) Think about what the consequences are for societies 3) Figure out how we can contribute in a positive way 4) Discover which skills we need in order to contribute effectively 5) Practice and develop these skills (using a peer-to-peer based methodology).
This space is not just about reading and talking, but also and foremost about ‘learning by doing’. (Please feel free to edit this Guidebook to make it better)
How to proceed?
Slack has channels on the left-hand side, you are already a participant in some by default. Head to the #Introductions channel to introduce yourself. Don’t forget to tell us what your expectations are for this network: What are your projects? What do you want to learn? How did you find your way here? Who do you recognize?
Talking about Slack, it’s worthwhile to familiarize yourself with this tool. For instance, learn how to filter the information streams on your mobile/laptop/desktop. If you feel lost, head to #Questions or #Lounge and express that.
The #announcements channel contains the practical stuff, such as when our events are happening and how to get there. All of our shared resources are pinned in this channel. Have a look through them and add yourself. This document provides details on how to get access to most everything we share.
#Whiplash_discussion is about the book we’re currently reading, written by Joi Ito and Jeff Howe. #Lexicon is about the Lexicon we are co-creating on Metamaps and GitHub. You will find summaries on GitHub for of the chapters we already discussed. In a previous series we discussed the book “Thank You for Being Late” by Thomas Friedman, these discussions are now a useful background. The New York Times has this review of the book.
#InFOOD is the place we go to get in the practice of sharing the media that we’ve consumed with each other. We use the the :knife_fork_plate: Slack reaction to signify this.
Since part of our exploration will involve making decisions together, we have a #decision-making channel.
Don’t hesitate to ask around if you need help with Slack. There are many more channels. Each have a “purpose” specified, so have a look through them from time-to-time. (They continue to evolve)
Once a week we meet online and discuss the writings of relevant authors, experiment with tools and platforms, and have meta-discussions about the past week and our work. For now, the meetings are held Sunday evenings - 9 pm Brussels time and 3 pm EST. You’ll find the link to GoToMeeting in the #announcements channel and on our shared Google calendar. Check your audio and video and preferably use a headset. Recordings will be made available afterwards and before the meeting starts there is a chapter summary that gets shared for the book we are currently reading together. (If you add yourself to this map of ours we can sort through time-zone issues)
We encourage you to familiarize yourself with Metamaps for general mindmapping about our project(s) and for creating a lexicon, and with GitHub for both blogging and the lexicon too. While GitHub may seem intimidating, we’ve tried to make it relatively easy to use. Also, GitHub is a very important example of a platform for collaboration so it’s worthwhile to experiment there. There is a #Metamaps and #Lexicon channel if you have further questions. Here is a video tutorial for Metamaps.
Hackmd is a nice way to prepare documents for GitHub or other places. Just like on GitHub the texts are written in markdown - think of it like a simple version of html (it can be converted into html). There are many cheatsheets for markdown and there is one integrated in hackmd (the question mark above your text input field).
Your blog posts will be part of our Metacaugs blog on GitHub. To create a post you will need to create a new file on this page. Be sure to read the readme.md file with simple but necessary instructions.
We are experimenting with many tools and platforms. If you get overwhelmed, focus on the essential ones and just create in the way that feels right for you. Think about #working-out-loud, and join us in the #lounge :)
Get on Slack, start reading, participate in the weekly meetings, do some writing and mindmapping using tools such as Metamaps, GitHub, Hackmd, learn something new, work out loud, and let’s find out how we can make the world a better place.
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.
This group, Metacaugs, can be considered as a bunch of peeragogists. Just as during the start of the Peeragogy Handbook project, one can feel a state of creative anarchy. Several projects collide and/or inspire each other, many different tools and platforms are being used, modifief or abandoned.
In this post I’ll try to use the Handbook so as to order my thinking about this project. Of course it’s a very personal reflection: while the group members share common interests, they have also their very own projects. My project is to develop an online peer-to-peer course about the impact of the technological acceleration on society.
Here I will use a template to formulate a pattern for my personal project in this group:
Title: Setting up a practice to study the impact of technological change on society
Context: Rapidly changing technology creates opportunities but also huge challenges for humanity. How can we keep pace with these developments while doing something useful for mankind?
Problem: These issues are being studied at universities, in a kind of an academic bubble. In order to find creative solutions, we need diversity: academics working with many other professions and students to explore the issues at hand. Also, it’s not just reading and memorizing, it’s also about doing and co-creating, learning to master tools. That is a foundational part of the practice (hence the use of the word ‘practice’ in the title).
Solution: Peeragogy offers a number of patterns - which can and should be tweaked - which can be useful to build such a group and a practice. A pattern is anything that has a repeated effect. In the context of peeragogy, the practice is to repeat processes and interactions that advance the learning mission. Frequent occurrences that are not desirable are called anti-patterns!
Rationale: Peeragogy is very flexible - it can be used in schools but also for self-organizing groups of adults. Finally, it is great fun.
What’s Next: Analyze what we’re doing here with Metacaugs in the framework of Peeragogy, then gradually involve more people to join the practice. We’ll co-develop a curriculum for the course, this will be reflected in blog posts and eventually longer essays or even books or videos. The creation of the curriculum is totally part of the course itself. Doing this patterns will emerge and other groups can use these patterns for developing sub-themes or totally different themes.
The practice has the following ingredients: synchronous online meetings where we discuss the writings of relevant authors, experiment with tools and platforms, and have meta-discussions about our proceedings. Group members report about how they apply what they learn in their own projects, others give feedback. This continues on asynchronous forums, we visualize using mindmaps, analyze by developing a lexicon, context to key concepts, and we analyze and visualize discussion positions using a state of the art system called Qiark. Of course we also blog about all this.
In Convening a Group the Peeragogy Handbook suggests a quiz: Those taking the initiative should ask themselves the traditional Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How (as a journalist I do like these questions).
Please feel free to comment on this project, which is my personal one but also corresponds to a lot of what we’re doing at Metacaugs right now already. We discussed previously a book by Thomas Friedman, Thank You for Being Late, following a lot of these patterns. These days we’re discussing Whiplash, a book by Joi Ito and Jeff Howe, but as explained we do at lot more than just reading texts.
It’s fairly simple to convert Wikipedia content, including the links, into Markdown.
https://wikipedia.org/wiki/before any links that are relative Wikipedia links in the link list at the bottom.
Done! (Well, sort of… I’m sure there may be issues relating to your specific context. Also, a bit of trial and error will be required to get what I mean about the link list and relative links)