I came across this article in a promotion for the 2018 World of Learning Conference and Exposition, which is “the UK’s most comprehensive event for all aspects of Learning and Development.”https://www.learnevents.com/exhibition-overview/ It was part of an educational marketing blog for Cognify, which sells gamification aps. I thought that the author does a wonderful job of explaining why peer learning is so effective. I have abridged the article, which can be found at https://www.learnevents.com/blog/2015/07/10/the-power-of-peer-to-peer-learning/.
Although the author is touting social learning applications, I think what is said can be equally applied to peer learning groups within organizations:
The power of peer-to-peer learning
If typical social learning tools don’t go all out to encourage employees to learn out loud or engage with one another, where do we go from here?
My observation is that facilitating peer-to-peer learning holds the key to a more social and open working environment.
Here are four reasons why peer to peer learning is more effective:
- By facilitating peer-to-peer interaction using a virtual skills marketplace, people can tap into both information and knowledge that is both relevant and in context to their task in hand.
- By being slightly less public or ‘out loud’, it does not rely on a cultural shift yet still encourages a high level of interaction among peers.
- It blurs the lines between ‘on the job’ and informal learning and is open to all employees without borders or silos.
- It’s sustainable – when users connect with each other and learn new skills, they learn new skills that can be offered to others, creating a cycle of continual employee interaction.
What do users want when learning socially?
Social learning is a mode of learning that is driven by the point of need. In today’s fast-paced, ever-changing working environments, point of need has to be addressed there and then – if not, people will distrust the tools they have and seek out alternatives (usually by asking around).
I found that when employees refer to a social learning tool or a learning community they typically want three things:
- Learning that is part of their workflow. Users want to find, learn and apply the information as part of the task in hand.
- Content that is specific and targeted for the task in hand. Questions answered inevitably lead to unanswered questions, so users want all the relevant content to the task rather than the subject.
- Content needs to be in context.
The Peer Learning Institute feels that the peer learning groups: tap into the managers’ knowledge, is sustainable, just-in-time, with learning part of the workflow, content specifically selected by the managers to address real job issues, and their content is, necessarily, in context.