Grants:IEG/Patterns of Peeragogy

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Patterns of Peeragogy

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How can we collaborate better? We're learning how together, and sharing what we learn.

engagement target:

Wikibooks, Wikipedia, Meta, Wikiversity (multiple languages)

strategic priority:

Encourage Innovation

total amount requested:

30,000 USD

2013 round 2

Project idea[edit]

Peeragogy is a framework of techniques for peer learning and peer knowledge production. As pedagogy theoretically articulates the transmission of knowledge from teachers to students, peeragogy describes the way peers produce and utilize knowledge together. We have been working together as a volunteer team since January, 2012 to build a public domain Peeragogy Handbook that communicates practical strategies for successful collaboration, learning, and adaptation. We see Wikimedia as a living case study in peeragogy. In the six-month project we propose, we would use peeragogical methods to enhance Wikimedia as a peer-learning platform.

Focuses on the motivations and passion of Wikipedians

Project goals[edit]

A brief history of the Peeragogy project will help contextualize our current goals, and the relationship of our work to the Wikimedia movement.

Joe Corneli and Charlie Danoff met at Wikimania 2010, where Joe was presenting the history and plans of PlanetMath, an early online platform for commons-based peer production, and Charlie was presenting his work on collaborative lesson planning. Fortuitously, they met again online not long after, in the Peer-2-Peer University's second round of courses, where both were volunteer course facilitators. They agreed to enroll in each other's courses to give feedback. As it happened, Joe's course on "DIY Math" did not go particularly well, but Charlie's course, "Collaborative Lesson Planning" provided a context to debug the issues. Out of those discussions, "paragogy" was born, and we published our first paper on the topic on Wikiversity. Months later, internet pioneer Howard Rheingold seeded his own work on collaborative learning with some of the ideas of from paragogy, and thus began the Peeragogy project proper.

As we worked together on the Peeragogy Handbook, we documented our hopes and achievements in use cases and case studies, and our successes and failures in a collection of patterns and anti-patterns. After the book had matured, peeragogue Fabrizio Terzi began using Wiki as a platform for building and sharing translations. Recently, Joe spoke with Jonathan Morgan of Wikimedia Foundation (WMF), who expressed interest in reusing and building upon the collection of Peeragogy patterns on Meta as part of his effort to build WMF's "learning strategy".

Our goal is to spend the next half a year strengthening our connections with Wikimedia, building a peeragogical understanding of this premiere peer learning and peer production community. In the process, we can help Wikimedia work better, by involving the international Wikimedia community in a distributed and ¡emergent! strategy discussion. Concretely, we aim to:

  • Document the peer learning patterns that are in use by Wikimedians on a daily basis across the platform
  • Invite more Wikimedians to contribute case studies of their own peer learning activities (whether on or off wiki)
  • Coordinate translations of the latest "major" version of the handbook (v 2.0) into multiple languages; and
  • Help to build multiple international peeragogy communities, to take the discussion further in culture-specific contexts.
  • Develop prototype peeragogy templates that Wikimedians can use to build learning roadmaps, with examples.

Project plan[edit]


Scope and activities[edit]

We propose to become active "participant observers" in the Wikimedia community, documenting the patterns and anti-patterns of peeragogy that we observe, and relating these patterns to our existing catalog. In order to facilitate the international scope of this effort, we will translate the Peeragogy handbook into Spanish and Italian, and will coordinate volunteer translation work in other languages. A global peer learning reportage cycle will help us build a a peeragogical portrait of the Wikimedia movement, including observations on its future course.

In particular: given the disparities in the distribution of online knowledge (e.g. Europe and North America have produced more than 80% of the articles in Wikipedia, according to this report from the Convoco Foundation and the Oxford Internet Institute), we feel a multi-lingual approach is critical, both for building participation during the term of the grant, and moving towards a more equitable distribution of engagement in Wikimedia projects after the grant is over.

Tools, technologies, and techniques[edit]

An example pattern: Wrapper
Early on, active peeragogue Charlie Danoff suggested that someone take on the “wrapper role” – do a weekly pre/post wrap, so that new users would know the status the project is at any given point in time. The project wiki main page also serves as a “wrapper”, and in Peeragogy, we check it from time to time to make sure that it accurately represents the basic facts about the project. Note that the “wrapper role” is similar to the integrative function that is needed for commons-based peer production to work (according to the theory proposed by Yochai Benkler, it is vital to have both 1) the ability to contribute small pieces; 2) some “integrative function” that stitches those pieces together. In Peeragogy, the “Weekly Roundup” by Christopher Tillman Neal served to engage and re-engage members. Peeragogues began to eagerly watch for the weekly reports to see if our teams or our names had been mentioned. When there was a holiday or break, Chris would announce the hiatus, to keep the flow going.

One of our key technologies is a simple catalog of informal design patterns, like the one at right. As a whole, the catalog suggests strategies that may be useful in building a peer learning experience. Elsewhere, patterns are often reported with more structure (e.g. pointing out the problem solved, examples, etc.); as we grow our catalog of peer learning patterns, we will create additional structure to keep things coherent and useful.

Whenever possible, we use open-source and free tools and platforms. So far, these include Howard Rheingold's Social Media Classroom, a custom Drupal 6 platform that we used for initial authoring, and our Wordpress-based website ( contains the "canonical" text of the English language version of the handbook). We use Pandoc as a format shifter, to produce derived LaTeX and Mediawiki versions of the book. These derived versions are archived on Github.

As indicated above, we are using a Wiki as a place to coordinate translations. We currently use a Google+ Community and +Hangouts to coordinate and share work, and have used miscellaneous tools Google Docs, Etherpad, Piratepad, and Mumble for authoring and real-time collaboration.

In order to carry out this work, we will primarily use methods of participant observation: one of our deliverables will be an analysis of the specific patterns of online ethnography that are most effective. We have built an engaged volunteer community, and we are inviting some of the key contributors to join this focused phase of the project and help us compile this study of Wikimedia.


Total amount requested[edit]


Budget breakdown[edit]

Budget item Description Cost
Grantees Task
Fabrizio usability research $5,000
Charlie outreach and recruitment $5,000
Joe field work and reportage $5,000
Contractors Task
Charlotte editorial management $5,000
Paola translation team lead $5,000
General project fund "internal bidding" $5,000
Total Amount $30,000

Note: We think it will be useful to be made available small pots of money for "internal bidding" to other members and contributors who need funds to organize meetings, cover writing, equipment or transcription costs, etc.; if these funds are not used by the end of the project, they would be returned to WMF in accordance with IEG policy. Documenting the use of this internal budget will be one of the deliverables in the project.

What does $5000 of someone's time actually buy? What will people produce with that kind of budget?[edit]

The grantees and contractors will be funded to work for 10 hours a week for 24 weeks, at a rate of $20.84 per hour. This will be time spent on-wiki, doing content and community development work. Below we detail our individual schedules of work. We plan to run an additional weekly meeting and publish this via Google Hangouts on Air; this will be done on "volunteer time" and we will encourage other volunteers to join.

Work Schedule[edit]

Charlie Danoff Weekly Schedule[edit]
  • 4 hours researching (searching, reading, interviewing, etc.) Wikimedia case studies and writing up that research.
  • 4 hours directly editing the handbook, incorporating these case studies and general handbook improvements.
  • 2 hours networking with Wikimedians to find new people interested in joining the project and reaching out to those who would be interviewed for contributions they have already made.
Joe Corneli Weekly Schedule[edit]
  • 2 hours design and implement research interventions with an international focus (in collaboration with Fabrizio and Paola)
  • 2 hours design and implement research interventions within technical Mediawiki projects
  • 2 hours design and implement research interventions within Wikipedia WikiProjects (including Wikipedia Education projects)
  • 2 hours pattern/antipattern/use case/case study write-up
  • 1 hour liaise with WMF Learning Strategist or others in WMF
  • 1 hour IRC office hour
Fabrizio Terzi Weekly Schedule[edit]
  • 5 hours User-Centered Design and Persona focus on visibility, accessibility, legibility and language of Peeragogy framework for Wikipedians and internal audit report.
  • 2 hours design and implement Wiki research interventions with an international focus with all team
  • 2 hours translation project coordination
  • 1 hours Content Media Design
Paola Ricaurte Weekly Schedule[edit]
  • 2 hours researching (searching, reading, interviewing, etc.) Wikimedia case studies in Spanish and writing up that research.
  • 1 hours incorporating these case studies to the handbook.
  • 2 hours design and implement research interventions with an international focus (in collaboration with Joe and Fabrizio)
  • 2 hours Content Media Design
  • 3 hours translation to/from Spanish
Charlotte Pierce Weekly Schedule[edit]
  • 3 hours develop contributors, research & solicit new patterns & content
  • 2 hours review & edit newly submitted patterns & content
  • 2 hours review and coordinate work on the 2.1, 2.2, etc. series of the Peeragogy Handbook (English)
  • 1 hour coordinate with other project participants
  • 1 hour manage schedule, rationalize workflow
  • 1 hour develop customizable "roadmaps" for peer learning projects

Intended impact:[edit]

To provide a useful body of patterns that WikiMedia users can apply in peer-learning environments.

Peeragogy Wikipedia Educational program - Can we enhance the Wikipedia Education Program with peer learning techniques?
Babylon - Can we build an ongoing international discussion of the movement's strategy?
Can we build a global platform for learning and adaptation?

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)[edit]

  • Wikibooks
    • Version 1.0 of the Peeragogy Handbook is available on Wikibooks in English and Italian. Volunteers have partial progress on translations into French, Portugese, and Indonesian. As early as possible in the project, we will update the existing versions to the new 2.0 content, add a Spanish translation, and do outreach to involve volunteer translators working in other languages.
  • Wikipedia Education Program
    • If both grants are funded, we would like to work with Generation Wikipedia to develop a peeragogical programme for young wiki editors, to complement the teacher-led activities developed in the Wikipedia Education Program. Where possible, we will work with educators to bridge these two different styles of learning.
  • Meta:Babylon
    • We would build an active peeragogy hub for exchanging content between many different peer learning and strategy discussions between many different local groups. We've put out translation requests to help translating the handbook, but this is only a start, the aim is to develop a multilingual community discussing and sharing patterns of peeragogy.
  • Wikipedia Communicate OER
    • One of our strategies will be to create new Templates that are suitable for use on Wikipedia and other websites which can be used as an easy way to communicate needs around peer learning and peer production.
  • Meta:Grants:Learning patterns
    • We will help WMF build a collection of peer learning patterns to be used in assessing WMF grantmaking activities. Where possible, we will interact with other grantees working on other grants to learn more about their needs.
  • Wikiversity
    • This is the most visibly "education" oriented part of Wikimedia. We will put significant effort into understanding the patterns and antipatterns affecting its use.
  • "Other"
    • We will be involved with other Wikimedia projects as participant observers and will write more about these experiences in our reports.

Target audience[edit]

The Wikimedia community in meta and micro senses.

More specifically, the outcome of our work will be useful as a "living strategy" for the Wikimedia Movement -- an informally produced follow-up to the Strategic Planning wiki that was produced in 2009-2010. At the same time, the artifacts we will produce -- and the norms we will foster -- will be useful to other people who want to develop strategies for working and learning the Wiki Way.

Fit with strategy[edit]

Encourage innovation: We will provide a mid-term audit of the 2010 strategy, and build towards a broader ongoing grassroots discussion about strategy for the Wikimedia movement.


Illustrative Use Case

Main actor

User:BlackEyedSusan, a Wikipedia user in Afghanistan, who is concerned about literacy rates in her country.

Main success scenario

  1. User:BlackEyedSusan wants to build a literacy campaign in her country, but isn't sure about how to go about it.
  2. She discovers the peeragogy pattern catalog through a Wikipedia article tagged with one of our templates, and using patterns like "Think Locally, Act Globally", "Heartbeat", and others, she comes up with a strategy that involves working with other peeragogues she meets on the wiki, building connections with local women in Kabul in regular meetings, and donated laptops from international NGOs.
  3. Over a year of hard work, she shares her experience of successes and failures on the peeragogy pattern pages: she's proud and confident that things will work out, as her volunteer team collaborates to build basic language courses in Pashto and Dari on Wikiversity.

The Peeragogy Handbook is public domain and is available both as a free download and for purchase as a soft-cover book. We plan to release a new version of the book yearly on January 1st (Public Domain Day), as long as the project is sustained. We hope that working together with Wikimedia will infuse our project with significant community spirit and vitality -- as indicated above, one of our central goals is to contribute to i18n of strategic discussions and international collaboration.

Measures of success[edit]

  • Number of contributed translations (we will contribute 2 of these, but we would like to see more projects successfully working, and building their own peeragogy communities)
  • Number of contributed case studies (these will be drawn from Wikimedia experiences and from other people using peeragogy)
  • Number of new or modified patterns and anti-patterns (one useful check is whether we have case studies that exhibit each of the patterns at work)

Impact on Wikimedia Community[edit]

We believe an updated version of the Peeragogy Handbook rife with Wikimedia case studies and contributions by more Wikimedians will give a language with which Wikimedia can analyze itself and work more efficiently and productively going forward with peers collaborating together to produce knowledge. Put another way, the updated handbook will share what works and what does not in a historical account of Wikimedia as a whole written in a language designed to analyze peer learning, and will help guide Wikimedia's continuing evolution.


  • Fabrizio Terzi lives in Bergamo, Italy, where he has been involved in civic activism and teaching computer literacy. Member Free Technology Guild (FTG) and IT facilitator at Bergamo-Hub
  • Paola Ricaurte Quijano lives in Mexico City. She is a professor of media studies at Tecnológico de Monterrey and a human rights activist.
  • Charlotte Pierce is an "indie" publisher and branch coordinator for Independent Publishers of New England. She has a Masters degree from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  • Charlie Danoff is an English as a Foreign Language teacher at the College of Chicago and writer living in Chicago. He has previously taught in Switzerland, China and Japan.
  • Joe Corneli is a PhD candidate at the The Open University, UK. He recently submitted his thesis on "Peer Produced Peer Learning: A mathematics case study".

Peer Learning Network (PLN)*[edit]


Community Notification:[edit]

Please paste a link to where the relevant communities have been notified of this proposal, and to any other relevant community discussions, here.


Do you think this project should be selected for an Individual Engagement Grant? Please add your name and rationale for endorsing this project in the list below. Other feedback, questions or concerns from community members are also highly valued, but please post them on the talk page of this proposal.

  • Community member: add your name and rationale here.
  • Charlotte Pierce: As peeragogues, we have proven our staying power and dedication to the common good, but to sustain and broaden our work, some sustenance is needed.

  • Paola Ricaurte: We believe in open knowledge and cooperation, our dream is to share and make peeragogy accessible and visible for everyone...

  • Fabrizio Terzi: ... Bergamo-hub vision is support connecting networks and local communities in multiple domains facilitating and enabling the study, sharing and collaborative development of free knowledge and open technologies for all. We work towards this aim together with a local and global network of autonomous actors.... (FKI).