Missed opportunities (2): How one selfish learner can undermine peer learning

The idea that adult learners have much to learn from each other is fairly consensual. The practice of peer learning, however, requires un-learning much of what has been ingrained over years of schooling, that significant learning requires expert feedback.

In a recent course organized by the Geneva Learning Foundation in partnership with an international NGO, members of the group initially showed little or not interest in learning from each other. Even the remote coffee, an activity in which we randomly twin participants who then connect informally, generated only moderate enthusiasm… where in other courses, we have to remind folks to stop socializing and focus on the course work. One participant told us that “peer support was quite unexpected”, adding that “it is the first time I see it in a course.” When we reached out to participants to help those among them who had not completed the first week’s community assignment, another wrote in to explain she was “really uncomfortable with this request”…

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