As a part of my working with P2PU, I have thought a lot about the peer aspect of learning and how to facilitate peer learning. Having been a more traditional “teacher” for many years, it requires some restraint on my part not to “teach,” but instead to be a peer learner (and sometimes teacher) with the others.

One thing I didn’t anticipate is that some of the participants in the course expect more traditional “teaching.” I’ve had conversations with several who have said that they value the expertise of the teacher and expected that in this course. I have been unsure of how to respond other than to try to reinforce the values of peer learning in this environment.

I need to come up with more ideas to foster peer learning. Our course participants have a wealth of experiences that I’d like to tap into more effectively. One thought is to ask participants to volunteer to lead a chat on a specific topic.

I’ve also had a couple suggestions to try some kind of team assignments. I think this could help the peer learning process, but I need more guidance on what this would look like. Because this course is very focused on marketing for each participant’s own business or enterprise, I have a hard time conceptualizing how this would work. (Also, frankly, the experiences I’ve had with team projects, from elementary to grad school, have mostly resulted in one person doing the work.)

I’ve also talked about the self-paced course idea with several people and have had varying responses. Basically, they fall into two camps: those who think it’s a great idea and those who are concerned that if there is no schedule, participants will lose motivation and structure and few will actually finish as a result. (I worry about this.)

One participant wrote to me this week (just past mid-way in the course) to ask if we could start the whole class over! I know that this was meant as a constructive suggestion and as a positive expression of dedication to the course, but it was also a little discouraging to me personally.

Another person suggested that the course be run on several tracks — one faster and one slower.

With both of these suggestions and a self-paced course in general, a big question I have is what role does the facilitator play in such a class. Any variety of these would seem to involve more work for the facilitator (and frankly as a volunteer gig, I am close to maxed out on how much time I have to spend on it as is. I am hoping that for future iterations of the course that others might offer to facilitate different “forks.”)

I suppose another option is to focus the facilitation on setting up the course and kicking it off, then spending little or no time ushering folks through their many and varied learning courses. I’m not sure that would be very successful though. I’ve participated in online courses where the facilitators greatly diminished their presence as the course progressed, and it wasn’t a very satisfying experience. But maybe that’s just the “teacher” in me needing to be involved. :)

The peer thing
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