Definition: The project’s heartbeat is a recurring activity, something that makes it so that people experience a “there, there.”

Problem: Without someone or something acting as the heartbeat for the group, energy may dissipate.

Solution: People seem to gravitate to regularly scheduled activities. Sometimes people need a little extra prompt to join in.

Examples: In the “Collaborative Lesson Planning” course led by Charlie Danoff at P2PU, Charlie wrote individual emails to people who were signed up for the course and who had disappeared, or lurked but didn’t participate. This kept a healthy number of the people in the group to re-engage and make positive contributions. In more recent months, Charlotte Pierce has been running weekly meetings by Google Hangout to coordinate work on the Peeragogy Handbook. Not only have we gotten a lot of hands-on editorial work done this way, we’ve generated a tremendous amount of new material (both text and video footage) that is likely to find its way into future versions of the book.

Challenges: Meetings that happen for the sake of having a meeting are almost a bad joke. Be aware of the energy that’s there before and after meetings. If the energy isn’t sustaining you or your group, think about what needs to change.

What’s Next: When the project is bigger than more than just a few people, it’s likely you’ll get several heartbeats — for instance, we’ve recently been running two weekly meetings in the Peeragogy project, for members with slightly different interests and slightly different availability. Finding ways to communicate across these different “camps” is useful.

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