Gone are the days when learning was one dimensional with only teachers percolating information to their students.
Times are changing and so are the methods of teaching (and learning).
One such method that is believed to be immensely beneficial is peer-to-peer learning. Peer learning is referred to as the process of students learning from each other. As per professor and author David Boud, peer learning is “a way of moving beyond independent to interdependent or mutual learning.”
In a traditional classroom setting, peer learning is a lot more straightforward considering there is face-to-face interaction. However, the same cannot be said about online classes.
Hence, there are all the more reasons to foster peer learning in online classes because instructors need to take additional effort to make students feel part of a community while keeping them motivated and engaged in the course.
Peer learning is an effective way to make learning interesting and teach students to develop an array of useful skills such as communication, teamwork, leadership, delegation and the ability to give and receive feedback.
Here’s how you can incorporate peer-to-peer learning in online classes:
Online Group Collaborations
Similar to group projects in traditional classrooms, the same can be applied to eLearning courses wherein you can divide students into smaller groups and have them collaborate with each other on mini-projects. This will give them a chance to interact with each other and build a sense of community.
Make sure you develop strict guidelines such that every individual is held accountable and there is no space for slackers. Working together in a group exposes students to different perspectives and broadens their avenues of thinking.
Assign interesting projects such as giving them a real-life problem to solve or incorporate role-play activities to make online group collaboration fun.
Peer Review Assignments
It’s always been students submitting discussion posts and instructors reviewing and giving feedback. What if you changed things around a little and got your students to review each other’s assignments instead?
Afraid it will turn out to be a mess? Don’t be. It all depends on how you facilitate the process.
The whole idea is to create a collaborative learning environment. Start with letting your students understand the objective behind having them review each other’s work. Don’t leave it open-ended - share a grading/feedback framework to encourage constructive feedback.
This is a great way to maintain high engagement levels in your course and also have students learn from each other.
It’s a well-known fact that students learn better when they teach so how about letting them take center-stage and step into your shoes when it comes to teaching a new concept?
Split them into groups of 2 or 3, assign topics, have them design the course and present it to the online class. Encourage learners to ask questions and share feedback on the course designed.
This way not only do students who sit through the course learn but so do the ones who design and present it. Your role as an instructor is to moderate the process and guide the course creators to ensure they are on the right track.
We have heard of mentorship programs in colleges and universities but let’s not overlook their importance in online classes too wherein students are at a greater risk of feeling lost, disconnected and isolated.
It’s a good idea to assign online learners with a buddy or mentor who can help guide them and offer feedback. Mentors need to make mentees familiar with the online learning space, respond to their queries and be their point-of-contact.
Having a mentorship program gives rise to a more committed group of learners and positively impacts their learning.