Tuesday 15 October 2013

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

Ahn, J., Butler, B. S., Alam, A., & Webster, S. A. (2013). Learner participation and engagement in open online courses: Insights from the Peer 2 Peer University. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 9(2), 160-171.

This paper presents a comprehensive description of the Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU), a social computing platform, using its log data. P2PU is non-profit organization and online platform that allows any member to design and create a learning project (study group or course or challenge), which can then be taken by any other member in the online community.
The main research question guiding this study was: How have learners participated and engaged with open online learning in P2PU? Following are the key findings:

·        Statistics suggest that as a platform P2PU is able to successfully encourage individuals to experiment with creating a diverse array of participatory learning environments, but that a relatively small percentage of those projects are ever implemented as operational.

·        Descriptive measures of P2PU's growth and history show an online community that is in an early stage of development, but steadily growing both in terms of individual users and different types of participatory learning environments.

The authors of this paper have conducted descriptive research to investigate adoption of P2PU platform. They processed log data from the platform to find answer to their research question on how learners have participated and engaged with open online learning in P2PU. While presenting their results, they have raised many valuable research questions that can be investigated further.

This paper has answered “what” question while identifying quite a few “why” questions. Some of them are very fundamental questions, investigation of which could create useful knowledge for creators of open learning resources.

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