Peer-to-peer learning is, simply, a way for our children to learn from each other.
When students share and explain their ideas with peers, they do more than just feel empowered. Through self-directed learning and the traditional roles of hierarchy removed, new knowledge acquires deeper context and understanding.
This type of pedagogy liberates children to utilize their knowledge, not simply obtain facts. In a peer-to-peer environment, students can test their ideas, deploy their experiences to solve problems and improve insight.
Passive, rote learning out. Taking initiative and exploration in.
The New Role of Teachers
The historical teacher-student relationship still reigns supreme.
This vertical top-down model of dispensing knowledge- from expert to passive novice- is, however, in transition. For the first time the biggest fountain of knowledge is not the classroom educator, nor even a sharp parent or well stocked library, but the World Wide Web.
As reflective educators, it is us that must return to our interactive drawing boards, and respond to the seismic shifts in knowledge acquisition taking place in front of our eyes.
In the new online world of YouTube “influencers”, teenage social networks and peer-managed wikis, the offline teaching role has transformed.
As 21st century teachers we embrace this transformation from authoritative oracles into facilitators and guides.
Vital to its success, peer-to-peer learning does not throw the baby out with the bathwater and simply replace the teacher. To be productive, the correct structures and learning outcomes must be in place to maximize the value of peer interactions. Cue our co-teaching model.
Why is Peer Village Useful?
Peer Village designs the lesson plans and physical space to foster the best pathway for students to collaborate on a digital platform. Co-teachers are provided the tools and materials so together they can guide both peer groups in their exploration of their chosen lesson.
Peer Village does something else useful. One component of peer learning is the concept of homophily, the idea that “birds of a feather flock together”. By uniting students of similar age groups, the similarities allow for freer flows of sharing, mutual understanding and context.
Conversely, it is the difference between the two classrooms, separated by continents, that allows for different perspectives to be heard, and insights to emerge. At the educational level, Peer Village is not just a meeting place for learning, but a balancing act between uniting similarity and difference.
We foster better exchanges by bridging the gap between peers, then harnessing their differences to inspire new ways of thinking.
"We foster better exchanges by bridging the gap between peers, then harnessing their differences to inspire new ways of thinking."