Collaborative and peer-to-peer learning analytics

Peer-to-peer learning & development analytics

What is peer-to-peer learning? 
Peer-to-peer learning is the process of acquiring knowledge through interacting with colleagues. The biggest benefit of this type of learning is gaining tacit knowledge which we will talk about more in the next section. 

What is the advantage of peer-to-peer learning? 
There are many ways in which we can learn, for instance, by attending a training course or reading books. However, not all knowledge can be acquired in such a manner. Some of it cannot be written, and is therefore described as tacit. It relates to skills, ideas and experiences that people have, but are impossible to codify. They can only be learnt through practice and peer-to-peer interactions.

Since over 40% of company knowledge is considered tacit, peer-to-peer interactions play a major role in knowledge transfers. The more diverse the team network is, the more diverse skills and knowledge can be acquired. This has a positive impact on employees’ ability to perform complex tasks and improves their problem solving skills which translates into better decision-making. 

What has remote work changed? 
When we work in an office, peer-to-peer learning happens naturally, through osmosis. Unfortunately, this changes when we start working from home, where interacting with our colleagues is limited, and happens through a screen, not face-to-face. 

If we want to maintain peer-to-peer learning it has to become more intentional. Since most companies switched to remote working this issue should be addressed, especially knowing that Gen Z employees value learning and growth. Soon Millennials and Gen Z will make up 60% of the world’s talent pool, and if companies don’t provide them with learning opportunities they will seek other employment opportunities. 

How do you encourage peer to peer learning? 
Let’s now take a quick look into how you can make sure that peer-to-peer learning takes place in your organization.

  • Try to ensure that all team members take part in cross-team projects and that assignments are distributed evenly.
  • Organize informal get togethers to allow new employees meet their team. You can also consider knowledge sharing events to encourage interactions and knowledge exchange.
  • Consider formal cross-team training and employee mobility programs. These could involve 2 days exchanges, job shadowing or community practice. 
  • Introduce tech solutions that will improve cross-team collaboration. For instance, software that will encourage and allow your employees to easily share their wins, or best practices.

Does peer to peer learning work? / How to implement peer to peer learning in the workplace? 
Peer-to-peer learning can take place at various stages of the employee journey, we will focus on three: onboarding, day-to-day work, and performance reviews. Let’s start with onboarding. For this stage you can consider the following peer-to-peer learning methods:

  • Assigning a buddy to your new employee, who will act as a mentor.
  • Creating a community of newbies where they can talk about their problems, challenges and get help.

When it comes to daily work, here are a few initiatives you can undertake: 

  • Organize occasional learning lunches, so employees can get together, socialize and exchange knowledge. If you work remotely, then you can consider tools like Donut that will help your employees interact.
  • Peer connections, which also can be supported using the above mentioned Donut.
  • Use social learning tools, they can be especially handy if most of your employees work from home.
  • Introduce job shadowing programs, where more junior employees can observe more senior ones.
  • Organize internship programs, and let people work in other departments for 2-3 days or even a week.
  • Introduce cross-team projects, where people from different departments can cooperate and exchange knowledge.
  • Use mentoring programs, where a more experienced employee acts as a guide to the less experienced one.

Lastly, let’s take a look at peer-to-peer learning during performance review:

  • Peer performance feedback, to let colleagues and not only senior management share feedback on employee performance.
  • Group reflection conversations, to help employees learn how to give and receive honest and meaningful feedback.
  • Continuous peer learning sessions, to give employees a safe space to learn from each other.

Peer to peer learning analytics - practical insights about a work habits for a leader and a team
Here are a few metrics that you should consider while reviewing you peer-to-peer learning process:

  • Network size – the number of people that an average employee interacts with.
  • Network diversity – the number of employees from different teams and departments that are part of the learning experience.
  • Lifting interactions – the number of interactions that employees have with individuals who are higher in the hierarchy. The more interactions they experience, the more intense the learning. 

Why is peer-to-peer learning important? 
Peer-to-peer learning is crucial for every organization, as it allows for tacit knowledge exchange, which constitutes a huge percentage of the overall company’s knowledge. The bigger and the more diverse the network, the richer the learning opportunities. Tacit knowledge not only improves employees’ ability to tackle complex tasks, but it also positively impacts their problem solving skills. All of this helps them make better business decisions. 

Read more on our blog: 

Why is rethinking collaborative social learning vital in a hybrid world? →

Other sources:

What is Peer Learning and Why is it Important? | Tomorrow's Professor Postings →Make meaningful connections – Donut →What Is Peer-to-Peer Learning? →

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