Canadian Journal of Nursing Informatics


This article was written on 21 Dec 2016, and is filled under Volume 11 2016, Volume 11 No 4.

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Paragogy: Emerging Theory

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Technology in Education Column

by Dr Sandra Bassendowski

Dr. Sandra BassendowskiThe Technology in Education column is written by one of our CNA Centennial 100 Award Winners, Dr. Sandra Bassendowski, who is a Professor at the University of Saskatchewan. Sandra recognized a need, and offered to write this important feature for the CJNI ñ this column is focused on how technology can be used in nursing education and by nurses in general. Sandra has been recognized by the Canadian Nursesí Association, as well as the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association and the University of Saskatchewan for her inspiring, dedicated work in her educational practice.


Dr Sandra BassendowskiI follow the postings on Steve Wheeler’s blog and read a posting where the word “paragogy” was mentioned and it immediately sparked my interest.  I was not familiar with the term so decided to Google it and see what was on the web about this concept. So in an article written by Herlo (2014), the author suggests that “Paragogy addresses the challenge of peer-producing a useful and supportive context for self-directed learning, based on connectivism between peers in the digital era.” The article goes on to state that paragogy deals with analyzing and co-creating the educational environment as a whole by the peers, sharing their learning situations and experiences, and gaining from information technology. This article then led me to information about authors Corneli and Danoff who presented on this topic in 2011 in Berlin. I find it interesting that they mention that paragogy was developed by adapting Knowles’ principles of andragogy. For the last two decades, the principles of andragogy seemed to have gone out of style for the newer concept of pedagogy! These authors suggest that each of Knowles’s principles are adjusted to the peer-based learning context by turning the original by 90°. So – the challenge is now to become familiar with the concept/theory of paragogy and see how it can support student learning in a different way.

As educators we know that students “scaffold and extend each other’s knowledge gain”… which becomes important with diminishing power differentials between experts and novices due to these emerging forms of peer learning and knowledge production (Boulos, Giustini, & Wheeler, 2016). This paragogical theory suggests that online networks are sufficiently developed to support user-generated content that can be shared freely and widely (Boulos, Giustini, & Wheeler). The photo that I have included with this posting of my classroom gives me the sense of the importance of peer learning- I believe students need to make these blended and seamless connections and links with each other in order to be successful in their nursing programs. These connections provide the overlapping support when things are not going as smoothly as planned; these connections can help students get through a study week, receive a poor grade, or just deal with general fatigue and disappointment. Peers can assist each other to manage, organize, and review course and program content.  How will you consider paragogy in your teaching and learning?


Photograph: Canadian Nurses Association with permission: Teckle’s Photography

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