[p2pu-dev] big picture (Re: Lernanta architecture)

Joe Corneli holtzermann17 at gmail.com
Sun Mar 13 20:29:43 UTC 2011

On Sun, Mar 13, 2011 at 12:52 PM, zuzel.vp <zuzel.vp at gmail.com> wrote:
> Lernanta can be seen from different angles (e.g., a tool to support
> peer learning, a tool to support research about peer learning).

I think this perspective is useful, even if the tool supports both uses.

Consider the case of a wiki: that FOSwiki I mentioned recently has
TONS of features (it looks like a few hundred plugins exist:
http://foswiki.org/Extensions/WebHome).  Would this tool work to
support the two objectives mentioned above?  I think, sure, it could
be adapted to these ends.  Indeed, almost any tool could be adapted to
these ends!

So what is it, in the big picture, that we're after here?  I include
myself both in the "we" of P2PU community, and the "we" of system
developers, though I have been focusing on yet another system, the
Vanilla Forums-based Planetary system,
http://trac.mathweb.org/planetary.  For my purposes it seems crucial
to be able to mark up, view, interact with, and discuss the relevant
objects of study.  Perhaps in one case these objects are pieces of
source code, or visual simulations that are generated from source
code.  Perhaps in another case they are mathematical theorems, or
exercises, or plots.  Perhaps in a third case they are user
interaction histories and diagrams that show user involvement across
time or across topics.

The fact that these various cases are parallel points to something
that seems really important: we're all doing relatively similar
things!  So at a high level it is less a choice of either/or (which
particular use to support) and more a case of both/and (what do the
various use-cases have in common?).  This might sound like pointless
philosophizing... but in fact, it seems likely to save a LOT of time
and energy if we stay aware of the fact that the various systems
(FOSwiki, Vanilla Forums/Planetary, Drumbeat/Batucada/Lernanta, etc.)
are all building in the same direction.

Without the peer learning activities, there is nothing to analyse, so
that dimension seems to have very clear priority.  However, without
the analytical aspects, we'd just get on with learning whatever we're
interested in learning, more or less the way it has always been done.
"We" are working on improving learning opportunities, and presumably
also improving efficacy beyond "just learning".  That goes for
educationalists, researchers, developers -- and end users.  I think
that sense of shared purpose ought to help both with "focus" and with
finding the right kind of feedback and critiques.

About any proposed course of action we can ask: How is what you're
doing improving learning and efficacy?  Maybe the question can be
worded better... but I think the important thing about this question
is that it doesn

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