Kicking off an open interview with Kahit Hien, a Burkinabe food entrepreneur visiting Kenya to trade experiences with a pan-African group of engineering entrepreneurs. The empty chairs are for anyone in the audience to join in as an interviewer.

What is Peer Learning?

When it comes to getting education right in topics and places where the standard stuff just doesn’t work, Peer Learning has been the answer for us.

So far, it’s been described as something that happens in classrooms, but this excludes things like writers’ groups, farmer field schools, and tech meetups, which are all great Peer Learning environments.

After years of developing it in our education programs, we’re getting close to a methodology and writing it up in the Peer Learning Guide. Getting the definition right is important to us, because a good definition helps everyone self-assess and up their game. So here’s our latest attempt at a description…


Peer Learning is self-directed, collaborative education in which the participating peers assemble the collective wisdom that is necessary to accomplish learning outcomes.

Conventional education is delivered by an authority in front of a class. That authority is expected to be an expert, and they determine the direction of the education, the measure for achieving success, as well as the knowledge sources that are to be used to generate learning outcomes. If what you want to learn is timeless, centralizing that knowledge and repeating it in such predictable environments makes sense.

When what you want to learn is an emerging topic, or scattered in various, disconnected places, when there is more uncertainty in the “final truths” or the environment is changing quickly, then it’s necessary to build conduits to distributed knowledge. Peer learning works well here, because each peer holds a bit of the workable knowledge, and the learner can piece it together in her interaction with her community of peers.

Because today’s world is changing at an accelerating rate, more and more subjects are emergent, so we see a growing need for peer learning. Plus, peer learning puts the reins of education into the hands of the learner, which is important when the goal is to empower doers and changers. With peer learning, the learner sets their goals, and in many cases, the topics too.

Peer Learning is usually a better choice when the “right answer” isn’t known, is changing, or is contextual.

This post continues at http://source.institute/blog/what-is-peer-learning/