I’m delivering a webinar this morning for the Learning and Skills Group on peer learning as a support to classroom based learning. Here’s my notes of what I’m going to be talking about.
On one end of the spectrum you have L&Ders who firmly believe that stand and deliver is still the best way to deliver learning to the masses. At the other end you have self-directed learning. Peer based learning sits towards the self-directed end of that spectrum.
I personally believe that if we don’t adapt our methodologies for delivering learning well, we’ll become redundant through our own actions.
There are several examples of what this peer based learning looks like.
In the classroom environment I’m moving more towards asking people to use their smartphones to research material and read content. It saves me prep time, I just need to direct to a good URL, and boom they’re off. It allows people to read at their pace, take in the knowledge they want to, and then we can discuss this meaningfully as a group.
There are practitioners who are ‘flipping’ the classroom. This is where they send all the reading material ahead of the session, ask people to read it and then use the session to discuss and debate the content.
I grant these are less about peer led examples, but they’re good examples of how we’re creating other ways to support adult learning.
At a previous company we needed everyone to complete Prince2 Foundation certificates for project manager roles. Instead of sending them all on training or doing an in-house session, we bought the materials for everyone, and set them a 12 week deadline to have completed the learning materials. They had to meet weekly and self facilitate their learning with a mentor. On the last day a trainer came to consolidate their learning for half a day and then they sat an exam. We had 100% pass rate every time.
Opening up the way projects are set up with project teams is interesting. If you have business projects that need to be carried out and open these up to the business, you then invite people to step up who are naturally interested and can offer something useful to each project. The projects are guided with mentors from the business and then they are expected to deliver on these.
Instead of holding presentation skills training why not hold an internal Toastmasters group? A set time where people can come, practise their presentation with peers, get feedback and support, and all without formally being told how to structure a killer presentation. (There is a place for that, not everyone needs to know that).
Building on that you can have open mic sessions. Ask a subject matter expert to talk on a topic of their choice with an open invitation for anyone to attend. People interested in the topic will attend, there’s no expectation of people registering, and they’re learning topics of interest.
Communities of practice are where you bring together a group of people who have a common interest, give them the opportunity to talk and bang heads together and they get creative and innovative about what they need to work on next. No direction, no management, no objectives, just people with an interest talking to each other.
The hardest part about these examples is that most of them don’t require management via an LMS. They just need facilitated support and in some cases actual facilitation.
It’s scary reading about these things because it’s easy to think you’re being left behind if you don’t do them. That’s partly true. What’s more true is that if we don’t move in the direction of the above all we’re doing is holding back the genius of our people because of our own ego. We are so desperate to prove our worth to the business that enabling these types of things to happen means that we can’t report on them being L&D lead activities.
The best thing we can do is be brave in our solutions and have the courage to experiment. The one thing I’ve learned in this role is that it’s ok to experiment because that’s a safe way to learn. We can fail well, we can have success well, and we can face cynicism well. Try one idea from the above with your teams. See what happens. Then try again once you’ve tweaked it. Then try again once you’ve got some experience under your belt. That’s what learning looks like.
Join in the webinar if you can from 1000-1100 on the #lsgwebinar hashtag. Have a search, click the link and I’ll see you there.