What is Peer Learning? Definition, Purpose and Benefits

1 minutes

Peer learning, sometimes known as peer to peer learning, draws on the expertise of colleagues and peers to accelerate employee growth in your organisation. 

Given that only 38% of learning and development professionals think they’re ready to meet the needs of tomorrow’s learners, there’s a clear need to expand learning and development with new ideas. 

This is why more and more organisations are turning to peer learning over traditional learning and development. It offers a cost-effective solution for continuous, collaborative learning that gets results. Best of all, your people may already be doing it. 

So, what is peer learning and why is it so effective? 

What is peer learning? 

You may have heard the term already. With roots in the education sector, peer learning is a tool where colleagues, peers or, in education, students, come together to teach one another.

Peer learning is essentially the act of learning with and from your colleagues. The concept isn’t new but is becoming increasingly common in the workplace as organisations seek new, innovative ways to upskill and develop their people. 

When we bring people together through peer learning everyone participating learns and develops their skills. Peer learning includes mentoring, shadowing and lunch and learn programs to name just a few examples. 

How is peer learning revolutionary?

Peer learning puts learning in the hands of people first. It draws on the expertise already in your business, creating pathways for knowledge sharing that don’t rely on external trainers or formal learning programs. 

A Degreed study showed that employees are most likely to ask their boss or mentor (69%) and their colleagues (55%) when they need to learn something new. Formalising and encouraging opportunities for peer learning means that everyone can access it across the business. It also provides a great way to foster continuous learning in your workplace

Given the amount of expertise that lies within your business already, why outsource your upskilling? 

What are the benefits of peer to peer learning? 

There are many benefits to peer learning and some of them are similar to the benefits of mentoring.

From increased knowledge retention to better skill development. Here are just some of the ways your teams can benefit:

Build trust 

When people learn together through peer learning, trust is built between colleagues and departments. This benefits your working culture and improves communication throughout the business, which ultimately improves productivity and retention. 

Draw on existing expertise

Tap into the experts that are already working in your organisation to share knowledge and upskill others. This not only means you don’t need to spend on external trainers but helps prevent knowledge from being lost when people leave the business. 

Improve knowledge retention

One of the reasons peer learning is so powerful is that when we teach others what we know, it helps that knowledge to stick. It also develops social and emotional learning at the same time. By bringing peers together to teach one another, you’re reinforcing learning for all. 

Create a learning loop 

The ‘learning loop’ is a concept that describes the 4 continuous stages of learning. These are; gaining knowledge, applying it, getting feedback and reflecting on what’s been learned. Peer learning encompasses all of these, meaning it creates a loop that provides continuous learning and growth to participants. 

📖 Find out more about how continuous learning can benefit your organisation in our guide 📖

Develop management and leadership skills 

Through peer learning, your people can practice the communication, organisation and support skills needed by good leaders and managers. What better way to gain experience helping to develop people than working with them through peer to peer learning? 

Find out more about career progression in our guide. 

The advantages of peer learning are clear. It’s a cost-effective way to create collaborative and social learning across your organisation. With benefits to the long-term knowledge retention and development of your team, it’s no wonder so many organisations are turning to peer learning to revolutionise their learning and development strategy. 

Ready to find out more? Book a call with our expert team today. 

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