By designing tasks that promote peer learning, we can add to the repertoire of learning methodologies that students can benefit from. Peer learning is effective only when students gain from each other’s perspectives and experiences through active participation. Boud et.al, (2014) describe peer learning as a way of moving beyond independent to interdependent and mutual learning.
The SHU examples below offer ways to bring in the digital environment to harness peer learning in the classroom and for continued learning experiences beyond the classroom.
Boud, D., Cohen, R., & Sampson, J. (Eds.). (2014). Peer learning in higher education: Learning from and with each other. Routledge.
Using Twitter for Discussions
Prof. Pilar Munday has been using social media tools such as twitter and Instagram in her Foreign language teaching. Here is her description of the task she designed recently: Refer to the image of the twitter discussion on the right to follow this description.
Students in an undergraduate Spanish conversation class (SP-212) have to tweet about the topic of the week, interact with each other and even speak with native speakers on Twitter, improving and maintaining their language skills while outside of class. In this exchange, we have a student asking a native speaker if they like fast food. The native speaker answers that she doesn’t but that she likes fried fish, which is typical of the Andalusia region in Spain. The student likes the idea and asks if she eats it often. The native speakers replies that only when she travels to that region. As we can see, the student is not only practicing Spanish but developing her intercultural competence.
Using Google Plus Communities for Engaging Peer Discussions
Prof. Jaya Kannan used Google+ communities in her ENG201- Experiencing literature class in fall 2015 to promote peer learning. By integrating this tool, Kannan was able to create a digitally networked environment to share images, text, audio, and video within a single space. For example, for the task, “what is meant by experiencing literature”, students shared examples of literary experiences and then commented on their peers’ posts to engage in meaningful conversations about English literature. Without this tool, it would not have been possible for all the 29 students in the class to see each other’s’ perspectives in a common and collaborative learning space.