The warm glow of peer learning

You may have read the literature and seen the research that validates the power of peer learning.  Or as a parent or employer you may have seen peer learning in action.  And you may have benefited from it ourselves.

Can peers really teach one another? Can you learn from someone who does not have the credentials to learn? What if the answer is wrong?  All of these questions are raised when I start talking about peer learning.  Usually I speak in paragraphs addressing all these questions.  Today, I am delighted to just post these two links to peer learning interactions on the OpenStudy site.

So take a look at peer learning in action, online, and between strangers (Links below).  Marvel how well it can work.


Link to the whole exchange is here.  


I loved this one because of the complexity of the question and the trouble that the the answered, Klimenkov helps Smokey work through the answer. Smokey is not embarrassed to ask for help when he does not understand.  Klimenkov draws elaborate diagrams to illustrate the concept and adds  beautifully formatted (Latex plugins make everything look lovely) mathematical expressions.  These took time.  Best of all, he challenges the learner to demonstrate his learning at the end.  He wants to be reassured that the learner has learned something.  Klimenkov is a college student in a far off country.


Link to this exchange


I loved the second one because the expert here, UnkleRhaukus is demanding participation.  He is not ready to provide an answer until the asker has demonstrated his work.  As they work through the problem, the asker, Smokey concludes ” 😀 that makes me excited. i cant thank you enough !(: ”

Excited that he has mastered this!  That is the power of peer learning, the power to engage the learner.

And then, another user comes in to encourage the asker and compliment him.  Clearly he knows Smokey.  “You are great to work with.”  he says.

Encouragement from a peer.  Engagement.  Its a happy warm buzz. And then, it is hardly surprising that learning happens. Klimenkov and UnkleRhaukus were once the askers, looking for help.  It was these sort of experiences thatgently dragged them back – this time to help, to answer and to encourage their fellow learners.  Peer learning at its best!

Do you feel the warm glow?


About Preetha Ram

I am an educator (Dean for PreHealth and Science Education at Emory), social entrepreneur (Cofounder of OpenStudy, a global study group to connect learners) and visionary (let's build a classroom for the world to study together). A chemist by training (Yale), I like to solve problems by building bridges at the edges and interstices of disciplinary boundaries.

Posted on January 28, 2013, in E-learning, Hacking Education, open social learning. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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