Joshua Kerievsky's 1999 work Knowledge Hydrant: A Pattern Language for Study Groups is focused primarily on the in-person, but many of the 21 patterns could be applied to a remote flipped-classroom approach.

Notes on a Remote-Friendly Subset of the 21 Patterns


"After identifying a great source of knowledge in a subject, work to create a rewarding, intellectually safe environment for the study of that subject."

1. Knowledge Hydrant

It's hard to choose the right path and source of knowledge with the most potential to provide "the most important knowledge in the least amount of time"

2. Pool of Insight

  • Studying is easier and more rewarding with other people.

  • In a dialogue, people can communicate how they understand something. This in turn may clarify what * confused others, expose their own misunderstandings, reveal new ideas, articulate what they didn't know.

  • When a group doesn't meet frequently, it can struggle to keep momentum and enthusiasm. If people miss one meeting, they're gone for a long time.

  • Meeting weekly or bi-weekly sustains the group's spirit

  • An assignment every week or every other week can help a member balance work & family life.

  • "Read and study on your own, but discuss with others. Aim to ask questions about what you don't know, and explain what you do know. Your exchanges with colleagues will enrich your understanding immensely."

3. Safe Place

  • People need to feel that they can experiment or be wrong. When people are comfortable enough to admit they don't understand something, real learning can happen. When someone has the courage to admit they don't understand, often there are others in the same boat.

4. Enduring Energy

  • Meeting weekly or bi-weekly helps to maintain focus and enthusiasm.
  • Limit dialogs to a maximum of 2 hours, and if energy has waned end the meeting early.
  • Have a 10 or 15 minute break in the middle of a session to prepare for the next half.
  • Study only what's most worthy of the group's attention.
  • Subgroups and Study Cycles let people place their energy where they see fit.

5. Kindred Collaborators

  • "People want to grow professionally, and think that networking can help but don't know how, where, and with whom to network effectively."
  • Discord would allow learners to stay in touch after the workshop is over
  • Networking is best in a Safe Place. The best time for networking is either before a study group or Afterhours.


9. Virtual Space

  • If the group keeps a Distributed Diary, it should be posted to the site. * Is Discord enough? An email roundup of important updates?
  • A good agenda will span a long time, giving people the chance to plan their schedules and study readings prior to group meetings.


10. Enthusiastic Leader

  • "Good leaders help new members learn how the group runs and what it expects from members. They will be receptive to individual problems and work to resolve them."
  • "Lead study groups by example and with enthusiasm. Make them places where people want to be, and invite the greater community to participate. Energize members with stimulating events, virtual dialogs, and seek to continuously improve the group by listening closely to members' ideas."

11. Motivated Moderator

  • "Without a moderator, dialogues may wander aimlessly, arguments may erupt, people may talk on top of each other, and a group may fail to explore an author's deeper meanings." * Pre-selecting Q&A keeps the space safe.
  • Ask an Essential Question at the start of each session.
  • "Asking challenging, penetrating questions about a reading is essential to establishing engaging & enlightening dialogue"
  • Moderators must step in as necessary to give individuals an opportunity to be heard.

12. Active Participant

  • "Anyone who is a member of a study group, or wants to join one, can find something lacking in an existing group: the meeting location, number of people who attend, the literature being studied. Few of these things are incapable of change. However, too many people fail to realize that they can actively change a group, helping to mold it to their needs."
  • A study group is a tool that can be applied to their needs, if it isn't already meeting them.
  • When people come to a study group and haven't studied the reading prior to a session, everyone loses. The group needs to have prepared participants.
  • "Actively and patiently shape a group by seeing to it that the group meets your needs. Work with the group's leader to introduce change, and create customs like Subgroups to make it easier for the group to accommodate diverse needs. Actively help others, particularly newer members of a group, so that the group meets their needs and so that they become valuable participants in the larger group."

13. Prepared Participant

  • "When individuals don't study prior to a dialogue, they either add nothing or add too much."
  • "The unprepared participant may ask questions that are off-track or elementary or may contribute ideas that misguide rather than further a productive inquiry."
  • A participant who throughly prepares will actively read and note:
    • What did I understand? What didn't I?
    • What are the Key Points?
    • What do I not agree with?
    • What ideas are related to other writings?
    • How could this work be improved?

14. Distinguished Participant

  • A lecture for a large audience is often less educational (For the lecturer & audience) than a good dialogue.
  • "If a lecturer really has something important to say, they would be better off giving their notes to a group which could study them then join together for meaningful dialogue."
  • For study groups, it's optimal if the distinguished individual comes to participate as an equal member. - Reminded me of when @DavidKPiano came to an XState stream, and the CTO of Cypress came to Tomasz's talk.
  • "It can be surprisingly easy to get important people to attend sessions when you persuade them that they may learn something through such an exchange of ideas"


15. Opening Question

  • This should be the essential question for the lesson/module

16. Sequential Study

  • "Great literature is much easier to understand when it is studied in an intelligent sequence"
  • The order will help illuminate how authors were influenced by each other

17. Agenda

  • "Without an agenda, a group will feel lost: members will not be able to order their schedules, and people will not have enough time to properly prepare for meetings"

18. Subgroup

  • Someone may want to study something relevant that no one else is studying.
  • Encourage the individual to form a subgroup, create an Agenda, publicize the group's existence, and begin the study process alone while others are learning.
  • Subgroups of various levels should be created, when groups are too large or when members are interested in different tracks of study.
  • Each subgroup should have an agenda
    • An "Extra credit" track?

19. Study Cycle

  • "Veteran members tend to study advanced pieces of literature" which can be a problem for newer members who need to study earlier works before they can contribute meaningfully.
  • Package readings as a collection, and have a Subgroup repeat the cycle.

20. Distributed Diary

  • "Study groups generate valuable ideas, questions, and commentary."
  • "If this output is not recorded and made public, only attending group members will benefit, leaving everyone else (including members who weren't able to attend) with nothing"
  • "At the commencement of a study session, all participants are given small index cards to write 2-3 sentences that capture the most important ideas of the session. One person will compile the group's observations into a single diary, which can be distributed to all members" - Idea of prompting learner for notes as they watch a lesson or work through a module, then presenting the compiled notes at the end of the course. Save all the notes that everyone has taken from each lesson?

21. Afterhours

  • Have unofficial meetings before or after official meetings. - Open up chat before a livestream? - Encourage learners to connect on Discord or Twitter afterward?