From Pedagogy to Communagogy and Everything in Between

Reading Time: 4 minutes

There was once only one “agogy” and now there are many. Most educators are intimately familiar with pedagogy – the art and science of educating and teaching children. Some are also familiar with andragogy – the art and science of educating and teaching adults. Recently a few more agogies have surfaced so I thought it was high time to explore some of these new and emerging ideas. We’ll start with the already familiar just to warm up.

Keep calm and teach on poster


Pedagogy literally means, “to lead the child”. Remember Piaget, Brunner, Vygotsky, oh my! Yes, these were the leading thinkers and doers in defining and popularizing the art, science and profession of teaching children. Bloom’s Taxonomy developed as a way to actualize pedagogic principles and learning theory by scaffold learning up the ladder of recognizing, recalling, analyzing, reflecting, applying, evaluating and creating. Pedagogy is not a learning theory. It is an approach to teaching. There are a variety or pedagogical approaches that have developed to support a similar variety of learning theories and teaching philosophies. I know, nothing is simple!

Critical Pedagogy

Critical pedagogy is concerned with democracy and freedom from oppression through consciousness raising.

Paulo Friere quotePaulo Friere, considered by most to be the father of Critical Pedagogy, says, “Education either functions as an instrument that is used to facilitate the integration of the younger generation in to the logic of the present system and bring about conformity to it, or it becomes ‘the practice of freedom’ the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.”


andragogyAndragogy – to lead the man –  was originally used by Alexander Kapp and then further developed by Malcolm Knowles and it focuses on the art and practice of teaching adults. It’s based on the premise that:

  • Adults need to know why they need to learn something,
  • Adults need to learn experientially,
  • Adults approach learning as problem-solving, and
  • Adults learn best when the topic is of immediate value.

Many educators, including Knowles, now believe that learning, and therefore teaching practices, exist on a continuum from pedagogy to andragogy where pedagogy is more teacher-directed and andragogy is self-directed.

Check out Instructional Design for more on Knowles and Andragogy and Tom Whitby’s excellent case for adopting the principles of andragogy for everyone, even kids.

Social Pedagogy

Social pedagogy leans on social learning theory, where learning takes place on a societal level. In other words social learning occurs when individuals experience a demonstrable change in understanding or behaviour through social interactions and that change extends to include the society in which they live. This idea has not caught on as a pedagogy per se in North America as much as it has in Europe. Despite it’s not being used formally as a learning theory and teaching approach we experience it all they time. Social media, especially Twitter chats and online communities appear to be using Social Pedagogy.

social pedagogy tree

In Europe Social Pedagogy is described as,

…more holistic and group-oriented than dominant forms of social work and schooling, social pedagogy (sozial pädagogik) has its roots in German progressive education – and is sometimes translated as ‘community education’ or ‘education for sociality’

According to Social Pedagogy UK, Johann Pestalozzi’s (1746 – 1827)  Head, Heart, Hand approach is related to Social Pedagogy. I’m not seeing the connection but it’s such a cool resource so I wanted to share it anyway. From my perspective it sounds like project based learning would fit in here.

He [Pestolozzi] wanted to establish a ‘psychological method of instruction’ that was in line with the ‘laws of human nature. As a result he placed a special emphasis on spontaneity and self-activity. Children should not be given ready-made answers but should arrive at answers themselves. To do this their own powers of seeing, judging and reasoning should be cultivated, their self-activity encouraged (Silber 1965: 140). The aim is to educate the whole child – intellectual education is only part of a wider plan. He looked to balance, or keep in equilibrium, three elements – hands, heart and head.

I’ve also written a bit about the Head, Heart and Hand approach to learning for adults and will re-post those here soon.

For more on Social Pedagogy check out Social Pedagogy UK and the Head, Heart and Hand – Education in the Spirit of Pestalozzi website.


Heutagogy is the study of self-determined learning. Thank Stewart Hase and Chris Kenyon for the term. This agogy puts learners at the very centre of learning and is especially well suited to online learning environments and life-long learning practice. Like all the agogies, only the term is new. I suspect this is how people learned prior to the advent of formal education.

“… heutagogy looks to the future in which knowing how to learn will be a fundamental skill given the pace of innovation and the changing structure of communities and workplaces.” (What is Heutagogy? )

Find more at the Heutagogy Community of Practice 


peeragogy visual notes

Peeragogy comes courtesy of Howard Rheingold and is focused on the art and practice of co-learning with peers primarily with the help on online social networks. Howard invites us to use the Peeragogy Handbook writing,

If you and a group of other people want to use digital media and networks to co-learn together, this handbook is a practical tool for learning how to self-organize peer learning — what we call “peeragogy.

There is a very active Google + community Peeragogy in Action that supports this concept and in their FAQ they say that Peeragogy refers to any sort of self-organized peer learning.

Related to, underlaying and overlapping all the ogogies you’ll find:

And a host of others that I just can’t recall right now.


Ok, I made that up, just now. However, if we have a term to define the art and science of teaching or better stated, facilitating learning for children, adults, peers and societies shouldn’t we have one for community learning?

Community learning is different from Peeragogy in that in a community, like a school community or within the non-profit housing sector, the diversity can be such that co-learners may not be peers. It also differs from Social Pedagogy in that it is not a completely open group. Community learning could include youth, parents, teachers, business people, service end-users, government representatives, etc., who have local knowledge and investment in one particular thing. Communagogy might be the art and science of facilitating learning within a stakeholder group – a group bounded by a common interest. Perhaps this is what we can call the study of Communities and Networks of Practice. I dunno – do we really need yet another word?

What do you think? Did I miss any? Techagogy? Ipadagogy? Perhaps…

Edited from original version published April 1, 2013 on

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Course Creation – Online with Versal

Reading Time: 2 minutes

A short decade ago Moodle and Blackboard were the only real options for providing online training or education. Today there is a growing number of course authoring platforms to choose from. Over the past few weeks I’ve been exploring several of these new options and want to share my experiences with them, beginning with Versal.

Interactive learning

Versal markets their course authoring platform as “interactive” as opposed to more passive learning experiences. How they achieve interactivity is through the use of “gadgets”. In addition to the usual fare of embedded graphics and videos, Versal offers course designers over a dozen embeddable objects (aka gadgets), aimed at getting learners to do things within the course.  The gadgets include things like 3D model simulations and quizzes. The real joy in these is that the gadgets simply drag and drop into the course authoring area. No coding, no juggling multiple windows, just drag, drop and configure right in line.

Collaborate on course authoring

In addition to gadgets the other thing I appreciate about this platform is that it’s collaborative by design. Course creators can invite other people to co-create with them and there is even an easy to use discussion area attached to each section of the course. This works very much like the comments option in Google docs.

Versal collaboration option

Sharing your course

To share a course with learners there are a few options. You can share via link or, if you choose to use Versal as a “organization”, you can embed the full course into your own website.

Versal is in beta as of this writing, but even in beta I haven’t found many bugs and other than a full fledged documentation section, it’s works very well.

There are a number of courses that you can take to see the platform in action and if you are a JavaScript developer the gadget platform/APIs will be opening up soon. That means that even more gadgets will be available for course authors.



This looks like a great option for organizations who need to be able to develop online training quickly. The learning curve is so small that almost anyone could create a course. You would still want to follow sound learning theory and ensure courses are well organized and learner friendly but this kind of tool would allow you to focus on that, and not so much on the technology behind it. As for affordability – there is a free version for individuals and a version for organizations that begins at 5.00 per month for up to 50 learners. Versal also offers a free 60 day trial.

If you try Versal out let me know what you think or better yet let the folks at Versal know. They are on Twitter @versal. If you have suggestions for other online platforms, drop me a note so I can check them out too.

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