Connecting to Something Bigger: The Power of Open, Peer-to-Peer Learning

October 29, 2013
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm PST
By Educator Innovator

An end-of-Connected-Educator-Month session on exploring peer-driven learning’s potential to reimagine learner relationships and make learning more socially meaningful.

Key Questions and Comments:

  • (05:20) [The National Writing Project] has seen examples of peer-driven learning over time, and the advent of the internet & the affordances of the web have really made it possible to make that learning happen even more.
  • (06:35) Youth have such great agency when they have that opportunity to interact and collaborate with one another…the act of writing helps facilitate that opportunity to interact with peers to share knowledge and communicate learning with one another.
  • (09:34) My passion as an educator is taking student voices beyond the walls of the classroom, particularly in high-poverty areas.
  • (13:15) When you allow this openness for student-driven learning and peer exchange, how do you keep things on track for your other curricular goals?
  • (15:52) There’s a lot involved in supporting peer learning; sometimes, we believe it just happens magically…Also, we can leverage the fact that youth really bring a lot of skills and knowledge–another starting point is “What do you know?” and “What do you bring to the conversation/experience?” I see those two elements as being critical.
  • (19:38) What is different about hearing from your peers versus hearing from a teacher or a mentor? What’s the dynamic that you get with peer critique?
  • (23:19) What happens when we take these modalities & tools & platforms, and co-opt them for school purposes? That can potentially have an impact on whether they value more highly the critiques of adults or the interactions with their peers.
  • (25:58) If you just tell a kid to respond to something on a social network, the conversation doesn’t grow or develop…they don’t necessarily take their voice seriously. Having adults coach and encourage young people to really say what they’re thinking is helpful.
  • (29:42) A friend of mine always used to say, “Today, instead of having one teacher, we have thousands of teachers. But the one that’s in our classroom is the most important one because it connects us purposefully to the other thousands.”
  • (30:30) What do you think is important, different, challenging about doing this kind of [peer-driven learning] out in the open, on the internet?
  • (32:59) For young people, it takes one comment like “It’ll be okay. I’ll be there, I’ll watch it. Nobody will do anything negative around it, it’s cool.” That kind of assurance that–once their work is out there, they’re not going to get beat up–has been all that it takes.
  • (35:50) I do have questions about the ways in which all voices are heard in peer-driven environments that can, sometimes, become monopolized…How do we insure equity in spaces where a majority might dominate because they have the loudest voices or the access to spaces that others might not.
  • (37:54) If we put a line between “college- and career-ready” and “community-ready”, we’re probably making a mistake. Is it truly “college- and career-ready” if [youth] aren’t also “community-ready”?
  • (41:21) People tend to run in the same circles; do we run the risk of living inside echo chambers?…How do we break those barriers and ensure that we’re reaching everyone, not just the folks who initially synced up via social media. The conversation is much less rich if we don’t engage everyone.
  • (45:55) For folks who are tuning in and who might view this later, what are some really easy first steps that educators can take to dip their toe in this world if they’re not already a part of it? Are there some invitations out there you can give people for things they can do right away?
  • (51:30) What are some steps educators can take to move from the more traditional ‘sage on the stage’ role to what Howard Rheingold calls the ‘co-learner’ role?
  • (57:02) I sense that we are part of a growing movement. We should all contribute our voices to this great conversation in these openly networked spaces with our peers.

View the Conversation

During the broadcast, the conversation also took place on Twitter using the hashtags #connectedlearning and #ce13.

Guests for this webinar included:

  • Kristen Swanson – Co-Founder of the EdCamp Foundation
  • Mimi Ito – Director of Research at and at the DML Research Hub
  • Paul Allison – Creator of the “Teachers Teaching Teachers” community
  • Gail Desler – ‎Tech Integration Specialist at Elk Grove Unified School District
  • Paul Oh – Senior Program Associate at the National Writing Project

Resources for this webinar:

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