I don’t know about everyone else, but I had a pretty hard time finding examples and stories of students by the students online. I think there is probably a lesson in this difficulty about how we view education. When I was searching for peer learning examples, the results were dominated by college education programs. I wonder if this is just a random example, or if there is a chance that students have too little of a voice online about how they are educated. Just a thought.
This isn’t necessarily by students, but I found this post from Edutopia to be full of examples and information about peer learning. I especially liked this quote, which comes from a math teacher: “They’re learning more than just math,” she says. “They’re learning to be more proactive; they’re learning how to depend on their peers. When they go off to college, they already know how to work with people and draw out their strengths.” I think the most pronounced advantage of peer learning is the soft skills developed by working with peers. If we really want students to be ready for the workforce, communication and collaboration are much more important than much of the content they will learn.
I discussed this prompt with my girlfriend, a teacher at Spring-Ford High School, and she directed me to this online discussion board one of her colleagues uses as a tool for peer learning. It reminds me of the Google Doc we created together this week, although it makes all authors anonymous, which also has its advantages and disadvantages. I like the anonymity, since it democratizes ideas in a more literal way, and I also like that students who are more introverted or less confident in speaking their minds are able to think about what they want to say and do so, while still in the class environment.