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"Peer Produced Peer Learning: A Mathematics Case Study"

Ph. D. thesis, The Open University, UK.

Supervisors: Dr Alexander Mikroyannidis and Professor Peter Scott

(PDF, 260 pp.)

(PDF, 270 pp.)

(HTML, 19 slides)

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This research project develops around a technological
intervention intended to transform a peer produced
reference resource into a peer produced learning
environment.
Through the work described in this thesis, PlanetMath.org, an early
online community devoted to mathematics, has now become a mathematical
practicum, and a laboratory for learning science.
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A new theory that describes the nexus of peer production
and peer learning is foundational for the research
programme. The candidate theory was initially developed
during a pilot study based on online field work at the
Peer-2-Peer University. The new theory -- which is given
the name “paragogy” -- has implications for designers,
researchers, educators, and others whose work relies on
peer learning and peer production.
Further research and development work in the PlanetMath
context helped to refine the theory, and applied it along
with a range of mixed methods to develop an
anthropologically-inspired study of modern mathematics.
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A quantitative approach was employed to detect the factors
of interaction that influence learning outcomes, using
legacy data from PlanetMath.
A qualitative, interview-based approach was employed, to
understand the desiderata of potential users of a new
system emphasizing peer learning.
The new software system was implemented, informed by
paragogy and these stakeholder perspectives, using Drupal
and other open source components.
Field work with PlanetMath users after the launch of the
new system employed an emergent design process to
elaborate the theory and develop a viable approach to
ongoing development and codesign.
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