A social blanket for MOOCs

The peer-supported study group that boosts retention, nurtures learning communities and wants to diminish the digital gap. (ParisLC N.01)

A few months ago I started working with Learning Circles, a blended-learning model that aims at:

a) improving MOOC retention level,
 b) fostering communities around learning, and
 c) offering an approachable experience for those left outside the sphere of online education.

An audacious group of artist were the first “Creatures” to form a Learning Circle in the European continent. The experience was hectic and complex, but also very rewarding. Many passionate discussions and valuable lessons came out of that first experiment. Since then, the Learning Circles model and philosophy has attracted curiosity from a wide variety of interested educators, trainers and communities in the city of Paris. Amid the frenzy EdTech scene on the French capital, Learning Circles proposes a much-searched equilibrium between digital tools and face-to-face interaction. Thus…

I am pleased to announce that the Learning Circles model will arrive to Paris in a much wider and meaningful scale!

The Learning Circles Paris Project (Cercles d’apprentissage)

The Centre de Recherches Interdisciplinaires(CRI) and Peer to Peer University (P2PU) will be working together for a year to introduce and deploy a wide variety of Learning Circles around the city of Paris. Throughout the project, at least twenty Learning Circles in fifteen different locations will be organized, tracked and evaluated. Our aim is to reach at least 350 happy learners.

Numbers aside, the Learning Circles Project also aims strongly at targeting those who are not currently benefiting from online education. We will do this by crafting meaningful learning experiences and nurturing an equitative environment. Peer learning and community support are fundamental ideas behind the Learning Circles philosophy. This is why they work. They take good-quality online content and surround it with social interaction and peer support. It is this feature that makes Learning Circles effective with those newly-introduced to online learning and a great tool to abridge the digital gap. It englobes isolated online learning with the human element it lacks.

The deployments of Learning Circles will happen in two phases throughout a year:

1 A small round of 4 to 8 Learning Circles is planned to launch between January and February 2017. We will design feedback and evaluation mechanisms to be applied in each session. This will generate information about the model’s adoption and impact in each one of the active circles. The first round will end in March.

2 Starting in May, a much bigger round of Learning Circles is being organized. We will use the information gathered from the first round to determine if the model needs any tweaks or changes. Any changes to the model will be reflected in this second, larger group of circles. At least fifteen Learning Circles will be launched between May and June 2017. We will also host Learning Circles in many new locations and with different pre-fixed audiences (students, parents, teachers…). This second phase will end in July or August.

At the end of both rounds, we will have a final evaluation period and deliver our definitive recommendations on how to deploy Learning Circles effectively for a French audience, including information on the formation of circles, gathering communities, maintaining horizontal relationships, managing conflicts and creating memorable experiences for all participants.

Aside from organizing several Learning Circles, the project has other important goals. More than twenty individuals will be trained to become facilitators. They will be closely guided to start and run their own Learning Circle successfully. The project also encompasses the translation to French of the existing open resources designed by P2PU for Learning Circles: the Facilitator Handbook, pre-made templates, tips and recommendations and an online platform that offers the facilitator versatile control over their circle. All translated resources will be adapted parallel to the model.

Finally, in partnership with the MOOC Factory at the CRI, we will build a francophone MOOC to engage new learners in any of the francophone countries. The course will introduce them to the philosophy and practices behind the model, bring them into the expanding community and help them start their own Learning Circle!

We are now growing our network, exploring interesting online content and interested communities. We are ready to start the LC Movement!

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Sounds interesting?

Add me on Medium. I will be publishing updates on the project periodically.
Also, feel free to add me on Twitter.
Care to help us start creating a buzz? Use #ParisLC on all your social media!