Entrepreneur John Britton is with us today. He has been a member of the P2PU community– a collection of short, college level courses made by anyone- since day one of its launch, and has spent much of his professional life focusing on making topics and education more open to others. John is here to share his views on P2PU and education.
1. Tell us a little bit about your background and how you got involved with P2PU?
I’ve been using Couch Surfing for years, it’s a way to travel the world and stay with locals for free instead of using hotels or hostels. It’s great for getting a genuine feel of a place and making friends. I had an idea to do the same thing for learning, so I wrote an essay about it. I went to the OpenEd Conference in 2008 and met people with similar ideas. That’s how I started collaborating on P2PU.
2. What audience were you targeting when you launched P2PU? And how was the reality different from the expectations?
Personally I wanted to target self-motivated learners, and that’s really what we have so far. Others are interested in reaching developing nations and making education accessible to people who don’t have access now.
3. What are the technological and administrative challenges facing your program?
Most of the people who work on P2PU are not web geeks, we’re working hard on building a platform that supports our peer based learning model. Technology has proven to be a challenge, but we’re always improving on that front.
4. What should we expect to see from P2PU in the coming years?
We’ve been more than doubling in size (number of courses and participants) each cycle. I think we can expect that trend to continue. We’re also working on partnering with organizations like Mozilla to offer accreditation in various subjects. This whole project is an experiment, so you can expect that many things will change.
5. Finally, what do you think of the advent of online education? Is it going to replace more traditional means of education or merely augment existing in-person learning?
For now, I think traditional universities are safe. I don’t think we’ll be replacing them in the short term, but we will certainly augment the learning experience. I think we’ll have our biggest impact with ‘non-customers,’ people who don’t have access to universities, first. Then interest will grow among the general public.