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Peer-to-peer learning

How learning from one another has a positive impact on the entire company

 
 

Well-trained staff who are always up-to-date on the latest developments. A dream for every company owner and an important pillar for corporate success. Traditional training methods such as face-to-face training, seminars, presentations, workshops, and eLearning are well known and often implemented in companies. But what about peer-to-peer learning? Peer-to-peer learning encourages the direct exchange of knowledge and experience between employees. It is a form of learning in which colleagues learn from each other, support each other, and grow together. This not only strengthens their individual skills, but also team cohesion and the corporate culture.

Find out how peer-to-peer learning works, what advantages it offers, and how you can implement it successfully. Let’s find out together whether this method could be suitable for your own staff training. 

 

What is peer-to-peer learning?

Sharing knowledge among colleagues

Peer-to-peer learning, also often referred to as collegial learning, is a learning method in which employees learn directly from one another. In contrast to traditional training methods, in which a trainer or expert imparts knowledge, peer-to-peer learning focuses on the exchange of information between colleagues. The method is based on the idea that every employee can be both a teacher and a student. Peer-to-peer learning means that employees share their knowledge and skills. This can be done through discussions, joint projects, mentoring, or other collaborative activities. This dynamic and flexible approach makes learning more natural and, above all, more contextualized.

While traditional training methods are often hierarchical and one-sided, peer-to-peer learning is collaborative and interactive. Participants not only learn passively from a trainer, but actively from each other. This creates a deeper understanding and a stronger connection to the learning material, as the participants are directly involved in the learning process.

The idea of peer-to-peer learning is not new. Learning from one another was widespread in ancient schools and medieval guilds. With industrialization and the development of formal education systems, however, it faded into the background. In recent years, peer-to-peer learning has experienced a renaissance, particularly in the world of work. The increasing complexity of tasks and rapid development of new technologies require flexible and effective learning methods. Peer-to-peer learning fulfills these requirements and is therefore becoming increasingly relevant.

 

Practical example of peer-to-peer learning

Imagine your company has recently introduced a new software tool. The tool is very powerful, but also complex and requires thorough training. This is where peer-to-peer learning can be particularly effective. How to do it:

Step 1

Identify your experts

Some of your employees have already used the new tool extensively and have mastered its functions and capabilities. Identify these experts and select them as internal mentors.

Step 2

Form learning pairs or groups

Pair these experts with individual colleagues or small groups so they can share their knowledge. This gives every employee direct access to an experienced user of the tool.

Step 3

Move into practical application

Have the learning pairs or groups work on real tasks or projects. Less experienced employees can ask questions and benefit from the practical experience of the experts.

Step 4

Regular feedback rounds

Ensure the learning pairs or groups meet at regular intervals to discuss progress, identify challenges, and develop solutions together. These feedback rounds encourage continuous dialog and adaptation of the learning methods.

Advantages

  • Your employees familiarize themselves with the tool directly in the context of their daily tasks, which makes the learning process more relevant and efficient.
  • Direct discussion means that specific questions and problems can be answered immediately without having to wait for formal training sessions.
  • The experts are not only able to explain the functions of the tool, but also pass on tips and tricks from their own experience that are not included in any manual.
  • Learning in a team and having direct discussions with colleagues increase employees’ levels of motivation and commitment to use and master the new tool.
 

Advantages of peer-to-peer learning

More than simply sharing knowledge

Peer-to-peer learning offers numerous advantages that traditional training methods often fail to achieve. It not only encourages knowledge sharing, but also strengthens team spirit and your corporate culture. Here is a brief overview of the most important advantages:

  • Promotes teamwork and collaboration
  • Improves communication skills
  • Strengthens trust and relationships within the team
  • Flexibility and adaptability
  • Cost efficiency and efficient use of resources
  • Creates a culture of continuous development
  • Practicality and relevance
  • Personalizes the learning process

 

By sharing their knowledge and skills, your employees establish a culture of collaboration and mutual support. This strengthens team spirit and fosters a positive working atmosphere. Your employees also learn how to communicate complex information clearly and comprehensibly, while developing their active listening skills and their ability to respond to the needs of their colleagues. When employees share their knowledge and learn together, it creates a relationship of trust. This trust strengthens relationships within the team and contributes to establishing an open and cooperative working environment. Employees feel valued and encouraged to contribute their knowledge and ideas.

Peer-to-peer learning is also flexible and adaptable. This flexibility enables participants to adapt their learning process to their everyday working lives, which increases the efficiency and effectiveness of learning. Compared to external training courses and programs, peer-to-peer learning is more cost-efficient. As the learning resources and experts are already in-house, there are no costs for external trainers and materials. In addition, peer-to-peer learning can be implemented quickly and without much organizational effort.

The format supports a culture of lifelong learning, as employees are encouraged to keep learning and sharing their knowledge. This creates a dynamic and innovative working environment in which everyone is constantly developing. As peer-to-peer learning is based on real experiences and practical application, what is learned is immediately relevant and applicable. Employees can apply the newly acquired knowledge in their day-to-day work straight away and quickly see the positive effects.

 
Nadine Pedro
[Translate to English:] Nadine Pedro, chemmedia AG

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Disadvantages of peer-to-peer learning

What you should be aware of

Unfortunately, where there is light, there is also shadow. There are certain challenges you need to be aware of so you can prepare for them.

Firstly, conflicts and misunderstandings can arise. Several people are coming together. Employees often have different levels of knowledge and experience. This can sometimes lead to tension. An experienced colleague might become annoyed if their learning partner isn’t learning fast enough. The less experienced employee could feel overwhelmed. It is therefore important to encourage open communication and ensure that everyone feels able to ask questions.

Another problem is the different levels of prior knowledge. If the differences are too great, it becomes difficult to learn effectively. Learning pairs or groups should therefore be selected with care. Organization and structure are also important. Without clear goals and regular check-ins, learning can become chaotic. A good plan helps you track progress and ensure that everyone is on the right track.

The time required should not be underestimated either. Peer-to-peer learning requires employees to invest time. This can be an additional burden on top of their normal duties. It is important to plan these learning sessions realistically and give employees enough freedom to dedicate time to them. Another risk is that important learning content could be overlooked if you don’t have external moderation. External trainers often offer a neutral perspective and in-depth specialist knowledge that may be lacking internally. But this is where you come in: You know your internal experts.

Despite these challenges, peer-to-peer learning can be very valuable if it is planned and supported effectively. However, it requires planning and support to achieve the best results.

 

Success factors

How to introduce peer-to-peer learning at your company

There are a few things you should pay attention to when establishing peer-to-peer learning in your company.

  • First of all, it’s important to choose the right people. Employees should not only have specialist knowledge, but also be able to communicate well. They should be willing to share their knowledge and learn from others.
  • Make sure your teams form suitable groups. The participants should be a good match and have similar learning objectives. When the chemistry is right, learning becomes much more effective. It is also important to set clear learning objectives. What do you want employees to know or be able to do by the end? With clear goals, everyone knows what they are working toward and can track their progress better.
  • Ensure your employees have all the materials and resources they need. These might be manuals, online tools, or special software. The better the equipment, the easier it is to learn. Organize regular meetings and feedback sessions in which participants can discuss their progress. These meetings are also a good opportunity to give feedback and solve problems. This keeps everyone on the right track.
  • Provide support! When managers actively encourage peer-to-peer learning and provide positive support, employees feel more motivated and taken seriously.
  • Finally, you should regularly check how the peer-to-peer learning process is going. Ask the participants for their feedback and adapt the program if necessary. This will help you ensure that it keeps getting better.

 

With these tips, which are actually not that difficult to implement, you can establish peer-to-peer learning very effectively in your company and benefit from the unbeatable advantages in terms of cohesion, team spirit, and atmosphere. 

 

Peer-to-peer learning, corporate culture, and your company’s success

How it all comes together

Peer-to-peer learning has a really positive impact on corporate culture. Imagine if your employees regularly shared their knowledge and experiences with each other. It would create an atmosphere in which everyone is open with one another and works together. Everyone would feel encouraged to ask questions and learn new things, which would in turn increase motivation and commitment within the team. When colleagues learn directly from each other, they also build stronger relationships. This strengthens team spirit because everyone is ready and willing to support each other. Peer-to-peer learning also helps break down hierarchies. Everyone can be both a teacher and a student, which boosts confidence and conveys a feeling of appreciation.

A positive corporate culture like this creates more satisfied and motivated employees. Satisfied employees are more productive and creative, which benefits the entire company. Peer-to-peer learning is therefore not only an effective way of imparting knowledge, but also an excellent means of fostering a healthy and dynamic corporate culture.

A positive corporate culture can lead to amazing success. When your employees work in an environment that fosters trust, openness, and collaboration, it shows in many areas of the company. First of all, productivity increases. Satisfied and motivated employees work more efficiently and perform better. They are more committed to their work and willing to go the extra mile to achieve goals they set together.

In addition, a positive corporate culture promotes innovation. When employees feel comfortable and know that their ideas are valued, they become more creative and more likely to come up with new, innovative suggestions. This innovative spirit can set your company apart from the competition and lead to the creation of new products, services, and processes.

Employee loyalty also benefits enormously. In a positive working environment, employees feel valued and are more loyal to the company. This reduces staff turnover and the costs associated with it, and ensures you maintain a stable and experienced workforce. A strong corporate culture also improves your company’s image. It becomes an attractive employer for talented specialists who are looking for precisely these values and working conditions. This makes recruitment easier and helps you get the best talent on board.

 

How software supports peer-to-peer learning

Efficient tools and platforms for modern knowledge sharing

Peer-to-peer learning can be supported and facilitated by the use of modern software. There are a variety of tools and platforms that facilitate the exchange of knowledge and collaboration between employees. 

Collaboration platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Trello enable your employees to work together, share documents, and exchange information in real time. These platforms also offer video and audio call functions so your employees can maintain their connections even over long distances. Learning management systems (LMSs) such as Knowledgeworker Share, eFront, and Cornerstone offer structured learning environments in which your employees can create, share, and discuss learning content. These platforms often also offer test and assessment functions to track learning progress. Online forums and discussion groups enable employees to ask questions, provide answers, and exchange knowledge. eLearning content providers such as Udemy, LinkedIn Learning, and chemmedia AG offer extensive libraries of courses that your employees can use. These courses can be worked through individually or together in learning groups, where employees can share their findings directly. Mentoring software tools such as MentorcliQ and Together Mentoring help match mentors with mentees and offer structured programs to facilitate the exchange of knowledge. Software solutions like these support the management and tracking of mentoring relationships and activities. Virtual whiteboards such as Miro and MURAL enable teams to develop and share ideas visually. These interactive whiteboards are ideal for brainstorming sessions and collaborative project work. Social learning platforms such as Degreed and EdCast combine different learning methods and enable employees to create personalized learning paths based on their individual needs. These platforms foster social interaction and collaboration through discussion, joint projects, and the sharing of content.

 

The bottom line.

Peer-to-peer learning is a great opportunity for your company. It enables your employees to learn directly from, and provide support to, one another. This not only improves the skills of each individual, but also strengthens team spirit. It is flexible and cost-effective as you don’t need external trainers. Learning takes place directly during the working day and the knowledge can be applied immediately. If you’re looking for a modern and effective learning method that brings your team closer together and drives your business forward, peer-to-peer learning is the way to go.

 
Janet Beier | Senior Marketing Manager
Janet Beier
eLearning author
 
 

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