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What can massive online courses teach us about peer-to-peer learning?

If you have 10 minutes to spare and feel like stretching your mind a bit by thinking about possible connections between studio learning practices, peer-to-peer instruction, and online education, this short presentation by Scott Klemmer might be just what you’re looking for.

Klemmer teaches at UC San Diego and has, in recent years, been conducting fascinating research on methods for bringing peer learning into online course environments. Many of his projects in this area have focused on massive open online courses (the so-called MOOCs you’ve no doubt heard about or perhaps even participated in). As a result, one of his interests is in “scaling” peer learning opportunities to tens of thousands of students, as he discusses here. But I think many of the concepts he’s developing have interesting implications for small-scale online and hybrid courses as well.

My personal highlights from this short talk are:

  • The idea that “studio learning”–the collection of collaborative and frequently critique-based methods that are common in disciplines like the visual arts–can be productively integrated into online courses in many other disciplines
  • The emphasis on self-assessment as a crucial skill that courses can be designed to help students master
  • The idea of peer feedback “fortune cookies”: a simple method for providing structure and guidance for students first learning to perform effective peer evaluations

Which ideas stand out for you? How might you consider applying them in your teaching, whether online or in person?