Abstract

Peer learning is increasingly being used in the public and nonprofit sectors as a professional development strategy, helping employees address challenges and opportunities related to their jobs as well as organizational mission and goals. When people with similar roles or functions convene to learn from one another, they create a powerful "brain trust" to help clarify approaches, build skills, and troubleshoot complex issues more quickly and efficiently than any one employee could do on their own. Participation in facilitated peer learning groups has been shown to decrease employee isolation, accelerate learning curves, stimulate innovation, reduce burnout, and strengthen dedication to the larger mission.

Peer learning can be particularly effective for government and nonprofit entities, where the need for expertise is strong, yet training and development resources are limited. Using technology, organizations can create strong peer learning networks that build staff knowledge and capacity for a fraction of the time and cost of sending employees to onsite training programs, conferences, and other events.

In this series of interactive webinars, participants will hear about the purpose and benefits of peer learning groups, and explore models and best practices for creating these forums using an online platform to maximize participation, encourage deep and relevant learning, build long-lasting connections, and grow organizational capacity both efficiently and cost-effectively. Each webinar will include ample opportunities for Q&A and interaction with fellow attendees via Maestro Conference.


About the Series

Webinar #1, Thursday, January 16

Peer Learning: What Is It and Why Should I Care?

In this session, we’ll explain the purpose and benefits of peer learning, and how to design a peer learning experience that maximizes both learning and connections within a group. You’ll learn how to establish buy-in from sponsors; determine the right peer learning framework for your organization; see ways to use technology to promote a new team and engage participants; and set up the logistics so your peer learning program runs smoothly right from the beginning.

Webinar #2, Thursday, January 30

Facilitating Peer Learning: Front of Room but not Center of Attention

In this session, we’ll discuss how a facilitator can make the difference between a casual conversation between colleagues and a powerful learning experience. You’ll learn how to identify and create agendas around the most relevant topics for the group; prepare participants (and yourself) for a dynamic and engaging peer learning exchange; gain tips and tools for both encouraging and managing participation; see how technology can enhance peer learning discussions; and find the balance between staying on topic and allowing the group to explore new ideas and concepts.

Webinar #3, Thursday, February 13

Building the Community: Making Peer Learning Last

In this session, we’ll delve into the importance of creating a powerful professional community beyond formal peer learning exchanges. You’ll gain ideas for how best to capture key ideas, strategies, and resources from a peer learning exchange; use technology to help participants stay connected and continue learning; evaluate the peer learning experience to continually improve peer learning content, logistics and management; and explore ways to help participants stay excited and engaged with their peers long-term.


Who Should Attend?

This is the webinar series for you if you’re:


Questions to be Addressed

  1. What exactly is peer learning and how can it be used to strengthen organizational capacity?
  2. How can government or nonprofit leaders create peer learning groups that enhance knowledge, skills, and resources in a cost-effective and meaningful way?
  3. What are some peer learning models and practices that work well in virtual environments?
  4. What are some practical first steps for leaders interested in starting peer learning groups, or enhancing learning communities already in place?