Total Noob to Learning Online? P2PU’s Peer-to-Peer Courses Hold Your Hand

Those of us inter­est­ed in explor­ing the myr­i­ad free cours­es avail­able online will appre­ci­ate the work being done at P2PU. It’s per­haps a fun­ny name when you first say it out loud, but P2PU’s approach and orig­i­nal learn­ing con­tent are for real.

You may have guessed what the name stands for: peer to peer uni­ver­si­ty. P2PU’s mod­el is inno­v­a­tive. Their idea is that tak­ing an online course should be more like learn­ing on the job than tak­ing a tra­di­tion­al class. Their approach encour­ages peo­ple to work togeth­er on projects—whether learn­ing com­put­ing pro­gram­ming or some­thing else—and to assess one another’s work with con­struc­tive feed­back.

Users can design their own cours­es with help from P2PU. Course design is bro­ken down into dis­crete steps and course con­tent is vet­ted by peer users and P2PU staff.

Cours­es are hands-on and super var­ied. One course lets users take a hack at design­ing their own big game—the kind that gets adults out in the streets defend­ing a foun­tain or hid­ing trea­sures under bus stop bench­es. Anoth­er cours­es lays out the steps for mak­ing a music video. Fif­teen oth­er peo­ple are already tak­ing the chal­lenge. Two have com­plet­ed it and four men­tors have offered their help.

One of the most pop­u­lar cours­es is about writ­ing for the web. The com­ments sec­tions for each step are live­ly and filled with links to real blogs. Par­tic­i­pants in this course share their writ­ing and opin­ions about what makes for good web writ­ing.

One of the site’s oth­er well-sub­scribed cours­es teach­es par­tic­i­pants how to pro­gram using the Twit­ter API. P2PU breaks the chal­lenge down into nine steps (the first of which is to intro­duce your­self to oth­ers already tak­ing the course). Par­tic­i­pants pro­ceed at their own pace and can reach out for help to oth­er stu­dents, men­tors and P2PU staff along the way.

Not all of the cours­es focus on new tech­nolo­gies. Always use­ful and nev­er out-of-date, this course is a per­fect fit for num­ber noobs.

You can find a list of P2Pu’s new cours­es here. And while you’ve got your think­ing cap on, don’t for­get our big list of 500 Free Online Cours­es.

Kate Rix is an Oak­land-based free­lance writer. See more of her work at .

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