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General Critiques

  • Is paragogy just a philosophy of low-self esteem? (i.e. it forbids the individual to do things on his/her own, in an empowered way?)

Critiques of Paragogy: Synergizing individual and organizational learning

Review 1

  1. The paper proposed "Paragogy" as a learning pedagogy for peer-producing and self-directed learning. While individual aspect was discussed, organisation aspect is lacking and should be enhanced.
  2. The justification for "Paragogy" does not appear to be strong and the desired outcome/performance measures did not appear much in the discussion.
  3. The paper should provide details on how it can be implemented. CSCW aspect in relation to the implementation is lacking in the paper.
  4. How to quantify and measure the learning and teaching of "Paragogy" should also be clarified.
  5. What are tools for Learning Analytics measurement?
  6. Since the author has organised course based on "Paragogy", a synthesis approach on the course and the principles applied should provide better understanding and organisation for the paper.

Review 2

The paper is very descriptive and hard to understand. The authors do not describe their views clearly. At the end of the paper, they only vaguely discuss how learning analytics could be used in paragogy. I could not understand the ideas presented.

Review 3

The paper will distinguishes between individual and collective learning, and derives characteristics of the latter.

I like the points made that collective learning is different and that we need to know it's specific characteristics and challenges. There is an interesting comparison with andragogy. Personally, I feel that paragogy and andragogy are not contrasting. Instead, paragogy could be considered as an extension of andragogy. The examples used to derive paragogy characteristics do not seem to fit in organisational learning (or they may do, but the paper should have articulated this better). It will be good to continue to monitor/update these principles in peer-to-peer courses in organisational settings.

The section related Learning Analytics and Knowledge and paragogy will be of specific interest to the conference (LAK 2011).

This paper can stimulate discussions on the pedagogical foundations of collective learning and knowledge construction; and the role of LAK.

Review 4

I'm not entirely convinced by the need for a new term/theory or of the theory of paragogy itself which at times sounds like a sales pitch (Realize the dream, then wake up!) than a pedagogic theory. Also the paper isn't about Learning Analytics directly but rather suggests some ways in which they might complement paragogy, so we a harsh verdict would be we have an unfounded theory making some suppositions about how a new field might support it. Having said that however I think it would make a good discussion topic as long as it is framed in the right context, e.g. a proposal for a learning analytical pedagogy. I think this could lead to some good debate around the relationship between abundant content, networks, data and pedagogy, which is obviously an area the authors would be well placed to lead on. Just check some of the sentences also for readability e.g. "To think highlight here one possible large-scale application, we can imagine creating paragogical accreditation standards for learners, along the lines of those used for businesses by the Better Business Bureau".

Critiques of Paragogy

Review 1

p.1 The Socrates quote seems to be out of context as it doesn't underline a possible connection between the Royal Society and Socrates (or better: Plato, as no texts by Socrates exist).

The five principles:

1st principle: Not really clear to grasp. Don't the learners always constitute part of the context? What seems to be key, is the egalitarian vs. the authoritarian method as is described at

2nd principle: What does this specifically have top do with peer learning? Isn't the knowledge how to learn important for every kind of learning, individual, peer-based, teacher-based etc.?

4th principle: This holds also true for individual, text-based learning. Or is text-based learning (reading) also understood as peer-learning? The whole concept of peer-learning seems very fuzzy and the text doesn't help eliminating the fuzziness.

5th principle is also very fuzzy. Is it a principle for peer-based learning or for learning itself? The example points to a case of individual learning...

p4. As I understooed it, andragogy takes the view of the adult learner, doesn't it? "paragogy looks at the learning environment as a whole": So, isn't it about peer-learning?

p6. P2PU isn't introduced. The reader doesn't know what is talked about.

Review 2

This is a theoretical paper that offers a new theory of "peer learning" called "Paragogy." It is more like a magazine article rather than an academic paper, citing social leaders and journalists (for example, Thomas Friedman).

The paper offers three examples of paragogy in action ranging from the US Army to Charles Darwin to Alcoholics Anonymous. The examples are really weak. There is a very weak nod to Benkler on how collaborative peer production happens.

I am torn. The paper, as is, wouldn't make it to an academic journal.

Review 3

After a short read through their paper I observe the following:

  1. indeed they defined the concept or new theory of "paragogy" themselves. They study the new models of peer support being experimented at the P2P University, which I find a rather useful thing to do.
  2. they define and describe briefly the main aspects of paragogy and compare it with related literature
  3. then they engage in exploring concrete examples of paragogy implementations. studying some cases sheds light on peer learning and how such open educational model could be supported.

I haven't had time to contrast the article with other literature available. And defining a new concept and theory has its risks.

In any case, I think their endeavours to study peer support and peer learning will be of relevance for the P2PU in particular, and for any other peer learning initiatives and open education in general as well.

Personally, I thought that the paper was quite interesting.

But I am not an expert in the field and shouldn't judge anything. I really could not grasp, what the paper was trying to achieve however. Especially, what is Paragogy? There are several definitions:

  • "Paragogy is a theory of peer learning": are there other theories of peer learning?
  • "an extended example where we apply paragogy to critique our experiences ": a theory can not really be applied, maybe tested.
  • "We use the term paragogy to characterize the study and practice of peer learning.": how can a term characterize something?
  • "In paragogy, we recognize that we are not merely teachers or learners": here it seems to be synonymous to peer learning.

Maybe you could use a structure like Tom Gruber. He wrote a paper defining "ontology"[1]. At the beginning has a very long definition at the beginning and then used the rest of the paper to explain each part of this definition. We call it the Gruber Design pattern. Another helpful thing to define a concept is actually defining, what it is not to give it some contour. I recently wrote two definitions (see and and know how much work it is to get a definition straight. As I said, I am definitely not an expert, but reading the paper left me in the dark, what Paragogy actually is about. On the other hand, I found the topic interesting and it is relevant for OKCon.


  1. Gruber, T. R (1995). "Toward principles for the design of ontologies used for knowledge sharing". International Journal of Human Computer Studies 43 (5): 907-928.