The Power of Peer-Based Learning

There’s a lot of value in learning from an expert. Experts tend to understand a topic very well, and (hopefully) have a great deal of experience putting the knowledge into practice. I find experts very helpful when I’m learning something for the first time. Learning from an expert is like reading a book on the topic – you learn all of the details on how to do something, following a clean linear path. There is great value in that.

Too often, the “clean linear path” is difficult to follow. Organizations have multiple moving parts, causing the priorities, resources, and expectations shift. The path to the finish line is littered with unexpected detours, roadblocks, and hazards. Best practices are great, but as I said in a recent post on my personal blog, “part of applying best practices is the ability to adapt best practices to current conditions”.

Real Stories from Peers

CaptureThis is why I’m a big fan of peer-based learning. I greatly appreciate when a peer shares what they have learned from a project, and invites people into a discussion exploring their experience. It usually provides much more context for me to learn from, including:

  • What were the unique goals of our project?
  • Why did we choose the strategy we did?
  • What obstacles did we encounter along the way?
  • How did we adapt to changes?
  • What would we do differently next time?

These are the types of questions that only get answered from a peer sharing the story of their work. It’s a much more powerful and contextual form of learning. The chances are very much in favor of you encountering a few obstacles in just about any project you encounter. I find hearing these stories helps prepare me to overcome the obstacles I’m sure to encounter in the projects I’m working on.

The Power of #FAIL

mistakeAnother reason I really like peer-based learning is that it’s not always about what went right. Quite often, the more powerful learning comes from what went wrong, and what we learned from that. I always appreciate when colleagues are brave enough to raise their hand and say “We failed, and we learned a great deal in the process”.

Failure often produces the types of learning that results in breakthroughs. Understanding why projects can fail and how you can rebound from the failures is hugely powerful. The more problems you learn how to solve, the problems you will be able to solve in the future.

Learn From Your Peers in San Diego

Peer-based learning is one of the reasons that I’m really looking forward to this year’s mLearnCon Conference and Expo. Most of the conversations that I’ve seen going on related to mobile learning are conceptual. They share information about how mobile can and should be done.

At this year’s mLearnCon, you’ll hear from a number of experts that share how mobile learning works. You’ll also hear a great number of stories from members of the Guild Community sharing their experiences with mobile. You’ll hear about their successes and their failures. You’ll hear about the obstacles they encountered along the way and how they overcame them. You’ll hear about the benefits mobile learning has provided their organizations, and what they’re planning to do next.

These stories provide more than just a conceptual understanding of mobile learning; they provide examples of how mobile technologies are being used for learning in the real-world, in ways that you can replicate in your organizations.

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