This pattern can help project participants be aware of the issues faced
by newcomers, and cultivate a “beginner’s mind” themselves.
When there’s learning happening, it’s because there is someone who is
new to a topic, or to something about the topic.
> ![image](images/individuation.png) **Individuation**: each person learning optimally is what’s best for the community.
> ![image](images/mutuality.png) **Mutuality**: our individuality does not isolate us from one another, but draws us together.
Newcomers can feel overwhelmed by the amount of things to learn. They
often don’t know where to start. They may have a bunch of ideas that the
old-timers have never considered – or they may think they have new
ideas, which are actually a different take on an old idea; see
<span><span>Reduce, reuse, recycle</span></span>. People who are new to
the project can tell you what makes their participation difficult. Since
you’re learning as you go as well, you can ask yourself the same
question: what aspects of this encounter are difficult for me?
Instead of thinking of newcomers as “them”, and trying to provide
solutions, we focus on newcomers as “us” – which makes the search for
solutions that much more urgent. We permit ourselves to ask naive
questions. We entertain vague ideas. We add concreteness by trying
<span><span>A specific project</span></span>. We may then genuinely turn
to others for help. We aim to foster a culture in which the focus for
everyone is on addressing our own learning challenges rather than on
“providing” solutions for others <span class="citation">\[1\]</span>.
When you begin a new project, try to systematically take notes and
gather data to analyze and reflect upon later; leave artifacts for other
future newcomers to use and build upon in their own research. In
practice this may be a lot to ask for someone just joining a group, but
over time we may have many ways to structure our collective engagement
so that it leads to research cycles based on the “action research” steps
*reflect*, *plan*, *act*, and *observe*. Note that there is a parallel
with the four facets *assess*, *convene*, *organize*, *cooperate* from
Figure \[fig:connections\]. The history of the action research approach,
with particular emphasis on educational applications, is surveyed in
<span class="citation">\[5\]</span>. One method for doing the
reflection/assessment step is presented in the
<span><span>Scrapbook</span></span> pattern. Be flexible: networked
attention (even more so than rigid cycles <span
class="citation">\[3\]</span>) leads to new ways of knowing and expanded
access to knowledge-production <span class="citation">\[7,8\]</span>.
A newcomer’s confusion about how best to get involved or what the point
of all this actually is may be due to a lack of structure in the project
<span><span>Roadmap</span></span>. Sharing vulnerability and confusion
gives us a chance to learn.
An awareness of the difficulties that newcomers face can help us be more
compassionate to ourselves and others. We strengthen the community by
supporting all participants’ **individuation**. We have a better chance
of making the project useful for others if we’re clear about how it is
useful to *us*. By welcoming newcomers, we enhance the sense of
**mutuality** with people who have never encountered the project before,
and learn together with them. The facts start to become useful when we
understand how people perceive them <span class="citation">\[4\]</span>.
### Example 1
Wikipedia <span><span>Newcomers</span></span> can make use of resources
that include a “Teahouse” where questions are welcomed, a platform
extension that changes the user interface for new editors, and lots of
exceptional newcomers may be given special
interest to the Wikimedia Foundation.[^fn5]
However, “Nearly all editors begin with a burst of activity, then
quickly tail off” <span class="citation">\[6\]</span>. The degree to
which those editors who are retained strive to maintain a “beginner’s
mind” is less clear. As regards learning their way around the community,
there is quantitative support <span class="citation">\[6\]</span> for
the claim that “novice users learn the rules and conventions for
contributing both through observation and direct coaching from more
knowledgeable others” <span class="citation">\[2\]</span>.
*Science Hall: Aspatria Agricultural College, Aspatria, Cumberland, UK*
### Example 2
It will often be pragmatic to connect
<span><span>Newcomers</span></span> with employment directly, so that
the future university may see a closer coupling of science and industry
than would be found in the old Science Hall. Inspiration can be drawn the London-based
freelancing cooperative Founders&Coders, which is able to offer
intensive training in web development at no cost to successful
applicants, on the basis that some trainees will choose to join the
cooperative as paying members later on.[^fn6]
### What’s Next in the Peeragogy Project
More detailed guides can show <span><span>Newcomers</span></span> how
they can contribute and what to expect when they do. We should have
different guides for different “user stories”. We can start by listing
some of the things we’re currently learning about.
1. D. Boud and A. Lee. 2005. “Peer learning” as pedagogic discourse for research education. *Studies in Higher Education* 30, 5: 501–516.
2. Susan L Bryant, Andrea Forte, and Amy Bruckman. 2005. Becoming Wikipedian: Transformation of participation in a collaborative online encyclopedia. *Proceedings of the 2005 international aCM sIGGROUP conference on supporting group work*, ACM, 1–10.
3. Y. Engeström. 1999. Innovative learning in work teams: Analyzing cycles of knowledge creation in practice. In *Perspectives on activity theory*, Yrjö Engeström, Reijo Miettinen and Raija-Leena Punamäki (eds.). Cambridge University Press, 377–406.
4. Paulo Freire. 1982. Creating alternative research methods: Learning to do it by doing it. In *Creating knowledge: A monopoly*, B. Hall, A. Gillette and R. Tandon (eds.). Society for Participatory Research in Asia, 29–37.
5. Jean McNiff. 2013. *Action research: Principles and practice*. Routledge.
6. Katherine Panciera, Aaron Halfaker, and Loren Terveen. 2009. Wikipedians are born, not made: A study of power editors on Wikipedia. *Proceedings of the aCM 2009 international conference on supporting group work*, ACM, 51–60.
7. Gilbert Simondon. 2012. Technical mentality. In *Gilbert Simondon: Being and technology*, Arne De Boever, Alex Murray, Jon Roffe and Ashley Woodward (eds.). Oxford University Press, 1–15.
8. C.S. Wagner. 2008. *The new invisible college: Science for development*. Brookings Inst Press.