Online Learning @ The Public Library

Peer 2 Peer University LLC

Date Awarded
Grant Period
01/30/15 to 02/06/17
Focus Area
Media Innovation
Knight Library Initiative, Knight News Challenge

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Making open online courses easier to access and complete for diverse members of the community by organizing in-person study groups for patrons in Chicago Public Library branch libraries

Online courses can offer people free access to useful content and knowledge, as well as education opportunities. However, the lack of peer-support and face-to-face learning options are often a barrier to successful participation, especially for newcomers. To address this issue and increase access to information and education, Peer 2 Peer University, with Chicago Public Library, will organize in-person study groups for patrons to support their free online learning experience. The project will assist participants through the library’s familiar resources and leverage Peer 2 Peer University’s experience in building online communities; it will also include reinforcement and feedback from fellow learners. Study groups will be held in local branch libraries.

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Project Team

Philipp Schmidt, Carl Ruppin, Mark Andersen, Vanessa Gennarelli

Philipp Schmidt co-founded Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU)–the grassroots community for social open learning. An open education activist, he co-authored the Cape Town Open Education Declaration, served as a founding board member for the OpenCourseWare Consortium, and has been awarded Shuttleworth and Ashoka fellowships.  

Carl Ruppin


Mark Andersen is the Director of Learning and Economic Development at the Chicago Public Library. He works with creating partnerships and providing programs in the areas of entrepreneurship, workforce development, literacy and digital skills. He has been with the Chicago Public Library for over 20 years and is an active member of the American Library Association. He has served as the Chair of BRASS (Business Reference And Services Section) of RUSA within the American Library Association.

Vanessa Gennarelli

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