Moving Towards More Peeragogy Learning Experiences For Conferences And Associations

(Jeff Hurt)
What if at your next education experience, the speaker gave all the expert-power to the audience?

What if the participants were empowered to take more control of their learning, collaboration and dialogue? It’s happening in secondary schools, colleges, universities and some education experiences across the globe. It’s peeragogy or paragogy, also known as peer-based learning.

Defining Peeragogy

In short, peeragogy is peer-based learning or learning from each other. It acknowledges the power of bi-directional peer relationships in facilitating professional and personal growth. It is the exact opposite of a lecture which is one-directional from the expert to the student.

Peeragogy’s is founded in Malcolm Knowles‘ principles of andragogy, the art and science of how adults learn. It has its roots in the deeper reflection that occurs when peers exchange ideas, thoughts and insights on specific topics. Peer-based learning also serves as a catalyst of contrasting perspectives that can generate arguments about interpretation, meaning and the application of the topic.

Peeragogy leverages three things:

1. The learners’ own expertise

This is crucial because professionals have relevant knowledge and experience to bring to the table. Acknowledging both affirms and motivates the learners.

2. An intrinsic drive to improve

Most (normal and healthy) adults have an innate drive to improve themselves and be helpful to others. It’s part of our makeup. Working with another peer is engaging and supports joint accountability for learning outcomes. When each participant plays the dual role of helper and learner, collaboration is multiplied and learning is more likely to occur.

3. The context

Context-specific issues are important because adults are motivated to solve real-life problems. Addressing real world issues also facilitates the customization of the learning which increases the potential for transfer of learning to occur on the job. Engagement in learning is leveraged when the content is grounded in the learners’ own concerns and circumstances.

A New-Old Alternative

“Get yourself a teacher; acquire a friend to study with you.” Hebrew Book OF Our Fathers.

This principle was written thousands of years ago as part of a compilation of the ethical teachings and maxims of the Rabbis of the first through third centuries. Orthodox Jewish students still practice peer-based learning today when studying religious texts. So what is the link between this old approach and the new idea of using peer-based learning with adults in professional settings? It acknowledges the power of two-way peer relationships in learning.

It’s important to note that the subject-matter expert or facts are not omitted in the process. The content is still given to the audience but less time is spent on dispensing information. The emphasis is not on the speaker but the peer-based learning activities. Colleagues are then given the chance to grapple with the content by sharing perspectives, questions, interpretations and make meaning of the content.

RIP Lecture Followed By Discussion

It’s time to elevate our conference and education participants to co-learners with the presenters and facilitators.

It means shifting from the traditional 30-, 60- or 90-minute lecture which may or may not have discussion at the end to peer-based learning format.

The simplest thing to do in a conference setting is provide 10-minutes of content followed by 10-minutes of pair-shared discussion. Keep the peer-learning in small pairs or triads so everyone feels engaged .

The lecture typically has an ROI of 10% retention for learning. Peer-based learning ROI increases to 80%-90% retention for learning. RIP lecture. Long live peeragogy!
Facebook iconLinkedIn iconTwitter icon