Peer Learning Central is your home base for all things peer learning—information, resources, a toolkit, and potential next steps on your peer learning journey.
What is Peer Learning?
Peer learning occurs in a range of settings and is known by many names. An organization’s staff may engage in interdisciplinary collaboration, learning cohorts, communities of practice, peer learning teams, collegial networks, or committees. Peer learning may occur as a component of a larger organizational initiative or less formally in smaller pockets within or across organizations. In all settings, peer learning is an effective professional development strategy that can be used to help individuals benefit from the knowledge, skills, resources, and perspective of others with the ultimate goal of developing the individual and the organization to achieve its strategic goals.
Why Peer Learning?
Most professionals have plenty of experience learning in classroom settings, through one-on-one instruction, or by accessing reference materials such as books, journals, and on-line content. Fewer have experience learning in a professional community setting where they are both learner and teacher at different times.
Peer learning groups are highly appreciated by participants for the following reasons:
- Discussion topics are specific, relevant, and customized to participants’ current responsibilities, needs, and interests. People enjoy knowing that others have similar challenges; that they are not alone.
- Learners respond better to hearing how someone has actually solved a problem, such as when a fellow participant talks about their own experience, as opposed to being told by a trainer about applying an idea or theory.
- Participants easily forge bonds, advise and inspire one another because they share so much in common in their work. Additional collaboration and networking occurs over time outside regularly scheduled meetings based on connections established during learning team exchanges.
- Individuals can leverage the collective wisdom of their peers when they most need it.
- A summary of the insights and actions suggested by participants during meetings is provided to all. Summary notes remind those involved about the full range of suggestions and ideas discussed. They also provide a valuable synopsis for those unable to attend.
- Conversations are cumulative, incorporating participant expertise and building on shared knowledge gained across multiple topics.
- Supplemental resources, articles, tools and subject matter experts are brought to bear on specific areas of interest by team participants and facilitators.