6 Which Of The Following Is Are Unique To Animals Peer Learning Groups: A Unique Type Of Social Learning

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Peer Learning Groups: A Unique Type Of Social Learning

We are social animals and we learn socially. We come together in various large and small groups to share what we already know, gain new knowledge, and create something new to solve a problem. We learn best with AND from others peopledespite the age of social media and information at our fingertips.

Social learning is the process of learning through social interaction. It’s one of the biggest business trends of 2018. Social learning occurs in a variety of groups, such as: quality circles, communities of practice, teams, learning circles, peer training and peer learning groups.

Let’s first consider how these groups differ from each other.

In quality circles, a group of workers meets regularly to examine ways of solving TECHNICAL problems and improving production in their organization.

In communities of practice, a group of individuals participate in shared activity and continually create their shared identity by engaging and contributing to the practices of their communities. Communities of practice are a means of capturing tacit knowledge, or knowledge that is not as easily or often articulated.

In teams, a group of people collaborate to achieve one purpose.

In learning circles, a group of people share the goal of building, sharing, and expressing knowledge through a process of open dialogue AND deep reflection about issues or problems, with a focus on a joint result.

In training colleagues two or more professional colleagues work together in a confidential process to reflect on current practices; expanded, refined and build new skills; share ideas; teach each other; or solve problems in the workplace.

Peer learning groups combine the characteristics of each of the other groups. There is a primary focus on sharing silent knowledge (communities of practice) and cooperating (team) in a dIALOGUE (learning circles) for it RESOLVES a management problem (quality circles). Peer learning groups use a confidential process to build new skills and to solve workplace problems (peer coaching).

While peer learning groups resemble these other social learning groups to a certain extent, there are some major differences:

  • They are about building the essential knowledge of the participants generate new perspectives in dealing with difficult situations.

  • They are actively focused solving a management problem rather than achieving a specific goal. Each member is individually responsible for practicing new behaviors to address the management problem.

  • They go beyond dialogue and reflection application and practice of new techniques. The reflection that follows focuses on the actual experience of the participants.

  • Peer learning groups follow a structured approach consisting of two 90-minute sessions separated by several weeks of practice and experimentation.

  • They consist of 5 or 6 leaders to ensure that different experiences are shared, but the group is small enough to allow full engagement of all participants.

In addition, peer learning groups also have characteristics that make them UNIQUE. They are self-directed by a group member who serves as a facilitator. They follow a learning cycle of knowledge sharing, acquisition of new knowledge, application and reflection. They are flexible because group members choose their own topics of interest. They are easy to implement as a standalone program or an enhancement to other professional development techniques.

So even if you use some of the other types of social learning groups, a structured peer learning group may be a worthwhile option for your organization to consider.

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