P2P Learning Networks – Moving toward peer to peer knowledge sharing and learning

There are many fads that are becoming prevalent within the realm of learning and development. From the idea leveraging social media tools, to the debate of whether to have an in-house L&D department or out-sourcing the function. Most of these ideas are nothing more than OD consultants rebottling old wine in a new bottle. The movement from training and development based in classroom environment to investing in shipping staff out to exotic training facilities has yet to lead to sustained learning among most of those who have been subjected to these interventions. Organizations have to go re-learn (no pun intended) what learning is about. Learning is not just about consuming new content its about bringing about a change in behavior. Organization have failed to move from the teacher-student model of learning. Even more worrisome is the fact that organizations have yet to utilize the best instructors available to them, their own staff.

P2P learning involves staff teaching staff on how best to perform tasks that are common to them. As with P2P file sharing on the internet, P2P learning involves that some peers who are willing to sharing knowledge and others who are willing to receive their knowledge. Similarly a P2P learning initiative fails if the network has more leechers than seeders. Leechers in terms of P2P learning would be individuals who have the relevant knowledge but are not willing to share that knowledge and seeders would represents the number of people who are willing to share their knowledge.

An immediate advantage of P2P learning network is that the seeders (knowledge shares) will automatically gain recognition when their knowledge is adopted by their peers. Because of the proximity of the learning partners, learning is also insured because the feedback channels are instantaneous. The knowledge sharer (acting in the capacity of the teacher) can instantly correct the knowledge recipient if s/he is not performing according to the instructions provided. P2P utilizes a snowballing learning effect where each individual who learns something new will transfer it to the next proximal individual within the P2P learning network.

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