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Effective Ways to Motivate Your Employees through Peer-Based Online Learning

What’s the deal with peer-based learning? You’ve seen some recommendations about incorporating this method in the training your company provides. However, it’s hard to understand how exactly it would work.

Peer learning is a broad category that encompasses various models of learning. Some methods include peer-assessment schemes, counseling, private study groups, discussion sessions, various projects, community activities, and workplace mentoring. In essence, it means that people are learning from each other through this approach.

Every leader has to find the right way to push the employees to professional growth. The programs include seminars, team building sessions, continuous development of skills, and systematic feedback. How does peer learning fit into the scheme?

How Peer-to-Peer Online Learning Contributes to Professional Development
  • E-learning resources are very accessible. The employees can use multiple devices to access them, and they choose the time and place to their convenience.

  • This is a cost-effective training method. You won’t have to book halls and pay lecturers by the hour. You won’t have to organize trips for your employees. You’ll make an investment in the program and you can use it over an extended period of time. Many online learning programs are absolutely free.

  • Peer-based learning is a highly effective method of gaining knowledge and skills. Your employees will get applicable lessons and they will share feedback with each other.

In 2011, researchers from DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois, explored the effects of online peer review on the progress students made. Both groups of students took the same online course, taught by the same professor. The only difference was that the learning process of one of the groups incorporated peer reviews. Through the peer review process, these students had to examine the approach others had towards the same problem. In addition, they were encouraged to turn their knowledge and skills into practical implementation. Those students went beyond memorizing information from the course.

That’s exactly what you need to achieve from the training you provide for your employees. You want them to go beyond memorizing, and you need them to consider other people’s points of view.

Rio Tinto, a global mining organization with thousands of employees spread in various locations all around the world, saw the opportunities in this type of learning. The company launched SMART – its own education portal. That’s a nice example of making it work.

Digineer, an IT consulting is another company that successfully incorporated the peer-to-peer training system. Digi-U, the peer-to-peer training program, allows the most skillful employees to pass their knowledge on to the others in the company.

Using Peer-to-Peer Learning: Practical Tips

There are two ways for you to implement effectively this method into practice:

  • Create a special online course for your employees. You’ll need high-profile educators from the niche to contribute, and a clear plan that leads the learners through the coursework and tests their skills and knowledge. You’ll also need an IT team that will bring the project to life.

  • Choose a relevant online course and ask your employees to enroll.

Whatever the case is, you’ll have some work to do in order to encourage peer-to-peer learning.

1. Encourage Discussion Among the Learners

Some of the employees will perceive the course as something mandatory. They will just want to go through it as quickly as possible. That’s not how peer learning works. You have to encourage them to discuss different issues. Invite them to lunch and tackle a topic. See if you can turn it into a productive discussion.

Feedback from the peers is crucially important. That’s exactly why companies like Deloitte abandoned annual rankings and traditional evaluations. The employees get instant recognition of positive behavior, and that’s usually provided via a public social platform. That’s how they support the discussion and appreciation of each other’s work, and it’s all part of the continuous process of learning.

Encourage the employees to share opinions and ask questions on the platform. If your company doesn’t use a separate platform for online learning such as WorkDay or Cognify, you can always create a private Facebook group or use Trello to support each other.

Ask them to evaluate the work of their colleagues and share feedback. That’s what peer learning is all about.

2. Share Clear Guidelines

GE supports that notion through a practical example. To cultivate collaborative and cross-functional teams, the company adopted approach based on continuous dialogue and shared accountability. Instead of critiquing, the managers coach the employees. To do this, they developed an internal smartphone to connect the managers, employees and teams. Needless to say, communication is based on proper etiquette, and the entire process of peer-to-peer communication is based on precise guidelines.

3. Explain the Desired Outcome

What purpose does this learning have? Your employees need specific goals to justify their efforts. Explain how this program will enhance communication within the team and will help them boost individual skills at the same time.

Facebook’s FLiP (Facebook Leadership in Practice) program, for example, is based on coaching and feedback that rising leaders receive from their peers, as well as from executive team members. The purpose of this program is to foster collaborative relationships and encourage continuous learning. The participants in the program know exactly what goals they are supposed to achieve.

Have you tried peer-based learning in your organization? If not, now is the right time to do it. Share your questions, doubts and experiences with us!

Sophia Anderson is an associate educator, tutor and freelance writer for UK EssayOnTime. She is keen on covering topics on learning, writing, business, careers, self-improvement, motivation and others. She believes in the driving force of positive attitude and personal development. Talk to her on Twitter.