Since moderating a discussion with Clay Christensen, Disrupting Class, at Harvard last week, I’ve been thinking about innovations in learning outside the formal system and the pathway into the system.

Semil Shah wrote about peer-to-peer networks, a category worth watching, on TechCrunch:

The driving force behind all of this P2P activity is the fact that today’s technologies make many more types of transaction possible between average consumers by finding an equilibrium between time and money, supply and demand. Transactions once locked up and never realized now create entirely new economies, free of established brands and fat middle-men….It will be fascinating to see what new types of businesses are built on top of these P2P engines, and what traditional businesses they will disrupt.

A few weeks ago, I said I was a bit skeptical of monetization potential of P2P learning sites.  But we’ll undoubtedly see some innovations develop that eventually show up in next-gen platforms in formal education settings.

One reason for Edmodo’s initially growth was the peer collaboration within a school.  But as soon as Edmodo (a Learn Capital company) added content communities there was rapid P2P innovation in terms of classroom practice, but also to Edmodo functionality

At Harvard, we also discussed the importance of innovation zones and not just autonomous schools, but low stakes space to try new approaches.  Consider the School of One pathway: summer school, after school, core curriculum pilot, expanded pilot.

We’re still pretty early in the era of learning together online.  P2P networks will be a vital source of innovation and learner support.

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Tom Vander Ark is author of Difference Making at the Heart of Learning, The Power of Place, Better Together, Smart Parents, Smart Cities and Getting Smart. He is co-founder of Getting Smart and serves on the boards of Education Board Partners, 4.0 Schools, Digital Learning Institute, Latinx Education Collaborative, Mastery Transcript Consortium and eduInnovation. Follow Tom on Twitter, @tvanderark.


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