Ideas for reflection

  • The peer learning study showed that peers learn from each other most effectively when they engage over long periods of time. The study of peer learning activities also showed that few facilitators have explicit strategies in place to foster sustained peer engagement, however. If you want to foster deep and experiential sharing between peers, you must try to ensure they have sustained engagement.
  • There are many tools one can use to keep peers engaged after the foundational event and you need to choose the one(s) that best fit your context. (The tools most commonly used to sustain individual contacts include paired engagements, online networking, peer produced knowledge products, cite visits, joint peer activities, and a variety of tools to foster sharing and exchange (see the table below)

 

Different tools promote different parts of the peer learning process
Parts of the peer learning process Interaction facilitation  Knowledge generation  Sharing and exchange  Reflection, application and diffusion 
Creating the foundational engagement 
  • Purposeful matching
  • Large group meetings
  • Small group meetings
  • Common assessment product
  • Externally produced knowledge products
  • Peer produced knowledge products
  • Training sessions
  • Expert group peer review
  • Single peer self-assessment
  • Multi-peer self-assessment
 
Sustaining individual contacts
  • Paired engagements
  • Online networking, virtual and telecom engagements
  • Peer produced knowledge products
  • Site visits
  • Joint peer activities
  • Community publications
  • Site visits
  • Joint peer activities
  • Defining learning objectives
  • Good natured competition between peer groups
 
Achieving learning outcomes  
  • Single-peer reflection
  • Multi-peer reflection

 

  • It is vital to be prepared and intentional about helping peers meet after the foundational event. Have your funders set up in advance and know what you plan to do.
  • Sustained engagement is not just about having the right opportunities, peers need to be committed and motivated to continue engaging. This requires ensuring that they have a personal commitment to the process, are interested in continued engagement, and have the support of their home organisation to continue engaging.
  • There are many tools you can use to ensure peers remain motivated and committed to engaging, with the most effective involving face time connections where peers get to be with each other (and build trust) and even work together or experience each other’s’ work environment first hand.
  • Peers will keep connected to each other if they have an explicit incentive to do so. This need not be financial, and is probably most effective if it ties to their career progress or effectiveness at work. Peer learning initiatives that connect activities to actual work tend to be more sustained than others.
  • Peers are likely to get support for continued engagement from their home organisations if the political authorisers perceive that the engagement is yielding positive results. Ensure that you have a specific reporting process for all authorisers, and that this process emphasises the value of continued peer engagement for them and their organisations.
  • Continued peer engagement takes time. Try and minimise the time it will require for individual peers (and which will need to be given by authorisers) by planning efficiently.
  • Continued peer engagement requires technological solutions for communication. Do not take for granted that peer learners will master the technology themselves. Plan to provide the technological communications solutions and to train peers in using the technology.
  • Peers who want to engage with each other will be put off if they have to organise all the engagements. Sustained engagement is more likely if a facilitating agency provides logistical support to peers who want to continue engaging.

 

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