Peeragogy Handbook V1.0/Participation
All collaborative work is managed, or facilitated, in some way. Methods of managing projects, including learning projects, range from more formal and structured to casual and unstructured. As facilitator, you'll see your Peeragogy community constantly adjust as it seeks an equilibrium between order and chaos, allowing everyone to collaborate at their own pace without losing focus, and in such a manner that the collective can deliver - whether that's a product or a learning experience.
Guidelines for participation
- Accept that some people want to watch what is going on before jumping in. This doesn't mean you have to keep them forever. After a while, you may un-enroll people who don't add any value to the community. In our Peeragogy project, we've asked people to re-enroll several times. Most renew; a few leave.
- Accept that people may only contribute a little: if this contribution is good it will add value to the whole.
- Understand that you can not impose strict deadlines on volunteers; adjust targets accordingly.
- Let your work be "open" in the sense described in Wikipedia's Neutral Point of View policy.
- Give roles to participants and define some "energy centers" who will take the lead on specific items in the project.
- Organize regular face-to-face or online meetings to talk about progress and what's needed in upcoming days/weeks.
- Ask participants to be clear about when they will be ready to deliver their contributions.
- Have clear deadlines, but allow contributions that come in after the deadline -- in general, be flexible.
- Add a newcomer section on your online platform to help new arrivals get started. Seasoned participants are often eager to serve as mentors.
Participation in business-oriented projects
When we think about project management in an organization, we often relate to well-established tools and processes. For example, we will use the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) as a standard. For the Project Management Institute (PMI) and most workers, those standards are the key to project success. In classical project management, tasks and deadlines are clearly defined. We will, for example, use Program Evaluation and Review Technic (PERT) to analyze and represent tasks. We often represent the project schedule using a Gantt chart. Those are just two of the project management tools that illustrate how project management rests firmly on its engineering background. In those very structured projects, each actor is expected to work exactly as planned and to deliver his part of the work on time; every individual delay potentially leading to a collective delay.
Participation in educational projects
If we look for analogies between project management and education, we can find some similarities among the learning models cited here. In a paper called "Moving from Pedagogy to Andragogy" by Hiemstra and Sisco, we see how students hold a passive role (on a cognitive level) in the pedagogy model. They are following a plan or syllabus that has been designed by the instructor and that won't change during the session. Students will have to complete all their tasks on time; in other words, return their exercises to the teacher before the due date. In a Peeragogy project, whose roots lie closer to andragogy than in pedagogy, participation to the project is less regulated (see From peer learning to peeragogy).
As Peeragogy project members expect to break the 90/9/1 rule and bring on board more than 1% of creators and 9% of editors, they also keep in mind the Long Tail rule. "The term Long Tail has recently gained popularity, referring to the retailing strategy of selling a large number of unique items with relatively small quantities sold of each. In other words, people working in Peeragogy should accept that some participants only contribute few ideas (or may be even just one!). Going further, people may even be allowed to just watch a peeragogy project going on without creating or editing, in order to understand its culture before feeling ready to jump in and contribute more actively.