PeppeR Project

U of T's St. George Campus.

What is PeppeR?

A rabbit with the word, PeppeR.

The PeppeR Project is a research initiative dedicated to the design of educational software that fosters 21st century skills.  The project’s core technology, called “PeppeR”, is a web-based collaborative workspace where students can engage in in-depth inquiry.  PeppeR offers a variety of specialized knowledge building features and social networking tools that support learners of all ages in their efforts to share information, identify key ideas, and progressively work to improve those ideas.

In doing so, PeppeR allows educators and instructional designers to customize the learning environment to their pedagogical or instructional preferences. Accordingly, tenets of flexible learning (ex. inform, engage, communicate, collaborate, curate, inform, assess) enable participants to optimize the educational experience.

Finally, PeppeR is also an excellent collaborative workspace for researchers to design, develop, and implement new, cutting-edge features (ex. social media, gamification, peer assessment). Subsequently, researchers are able to utilize learning analytics on anonymous data to gauge the effectiveness of such newly implemented features, which are not readily available in typical LMSs.

What Does the PeppeR Project Do?

Supports Community Building

PeppeR was designed with a wide range of social affordances. Borrowing heavily from social media, PeppeR includes such features as hashtags, Like buttons, news feeds, profile pictures, public bios, and a list of users who are simultaneously co-present (logged in)  promoting a sense of community and a greater sense of comfort when people interact and share ideas online.

Second Generation Knowledge Building

PeppeR was developed at OISE as a support for online and face-to-face course-based communities. PeppeR empowers learners of all ages in their efforts to share information, identify key ideas, and progressively work to improve those ideas.

Research Driven

Based upon extensive user testing and feedback, PeppeR is intuitive and easy-to-use, yet also powerful and feature-rich. PeppeR includes a variety of specialized knowledge building features including social networking tools that allow the creation of online workspaces. Here, students, teachers and even researchers can share multimedia resources and engage in community-wide discussion. The extensive, easy-to-use reporting system provides instructors with immediate feedback on student levels of activity and productivity.

Optimizes Workflow

PeppeR’s design eliminates compartmentalization by allowing people access to any tool, whenever they need it.  Students do not need to navigate from one webpage to another to make use of different tools. While composing a note in an editor, a student can simultaneously access course calendar, review messages in other discussion threads, engage in a private text chat, or download course readings.  Collaborative workspace creation which optimizes flexibility of learner tools. No interruption of  workflow to navigate from one virtual space to another.

An Introduction to PeppeR

PeppeR's Distinguishing Features

What distinguishes PeppeR from other online discussion environments? PeppeR is an asynchronous online discussion environment, developed at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, that was create to support community knowledge building. It accomplishes this through a suite of design affordances that make it easy for learners to review the community’s work and establish linkages between posts.  In the accompanying video, we describe eight distinctive design features in PepperR that support these and other processes.