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The Power of the Peer-to-Peer Learning Environment

Peer-to-peer learning and workplace mentoring have gained traction in organizations for increasing collaboration, interactions, and active learning amongst employees.

Reciprocal learning activities can be mutually beneficial, creating environments for peers to share their knowledge and experiences. Peers tend to feel more comfortable with one another, opening up and interacting more than they would with a training instructor. Peer-to-peer learning also creates more personalized learning experiences, which increases content retention. Here are ways to increase peer-to-peer learning opportunities in your organization:

Create a diverse and inclusive peer-to-peer learning environment

Building an effective peer-to-peer learning environment starts with promoting inclusive and diverse collaboration. Increase engagement amongst employees and showcase skills whenever possible and relevant. When employees are comfortable with their colleagues and recognize others’ strengths, they’re more likely to engage with them and open to learning from them. Employees with the knowledge to share are also more likely to want to see their peers improve.

Make peer learning access

Leadership can promote peer-to-peer learning by setting up online communities that are accessible to the workforce. Networking events can also increase engagement amongst employees. Most importantly, leadership must communicate the value of reciprocal peer learning and encourage employees to seek opportunities to learn from their coworkers. This can be achieved by urging employees to request peer learning whenever they need coaching or mentoring. Managers may recognize employees with the right abilities and knowledge to share their skills with their peers. Alternatively, the manager may ask the employee requesting peer learning if they’ve identified a specific colleague that they feel they will learn best from.

Identify employees with facilitator potential

Peer learning is most effective when someone facilitates the sessions. The facilitator doesn’t necessarily need to be a superior or someone with instructor experience. It can be an employee of the same rank that shows leadership skills. Their role in peer-to-peer learning sessions will ensure that participants follow the schedule and don’t veer off-topic. Remember, when peers are together, even in a formal classroom setting, it’s easy for them to get distracted. They may end up talking about personal matters or be less strict about following the training outline and achieving the objectives; this is common amongst peers who worry that they may come off as uptight.

Give peers authentic problems to solve

Too often, we see training modules using fictional scenarios in problem-solving exercises. However, this can lower engagement as participants lose the sense of urgency and interest to resolve the problem. They may think that the scenario may not likely ever become an actual challenge. The real problem they must solve may be one that’s already been resolved or one that’s still causing issues. When participants know that the problem has occurred, they’ll take it more seriously and work together by using their unique skill sets and experiences.

Conclusion

Formal training sessions in classroom settings are still effective and an excellent foundation for learning. However, not everyone learns the same, and there can still be knowledge gaps regardless of how well-prepared and detailed the training modules are. By creating an open, peer-to-peer learning culture, employees are more comfortable to ask for training from their peers.

Has your organization had success with peer-to-peer learning? Tell me about it at greg@inscapeconsulting.com.

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CONTACT ME

Inscape Consulting Group
Greg Nichvalodoff, BSc. BM (Honors), MBA, PCC, CMC
Office: 604.943.0800
Mobile: 604.831.4734
greg@inscapeconsulting.com

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