Designing a peer led learning approach

When all the information is available at the click of a button, are teachers obsolete?

The short answer is NO.

However, as knowledge and information have evolved, the role our teachers play needs to change as well. Let's take an example...

Last week, we at NextLeap wrapped up our first cohort of the People Leaders Fellowship. The program had managers and start-up founders from various domains - engineering, product, and design from some of the biggest companies in India.

While designing the program, two questions were on our minds:

  • How do we help fellows to reflect on their own experiences?
  • How do we get fellows to learn from each other?

This program, unlike any other we designed, was designed for people who had a wealth of experience. We felt they needed a structure to collate that more than they needed to learn from instructors.

What did we do differently? We enabled 2 Peer-led learning experiences:

  • Sandbox 🏖️
  • Sounding Boards👂

🏖️ Sandbox

Sandbox was a space for learners to reflect and build on their experiences. Each week, the Sandbox was based on a specific topic:

  • Week 1: Managing Yourself
  • Week 2: Delegation & Managing Up
  • Week 3: The Art of Feedback & Coaching
  • Week 4: Nurturing Culture

What did we do?

In breakout rooms, learners would discuss & debate a situation or a theme. Borrowing from their individual experiences, they would arrive at a point of view and share it with the larger group.

What happened?

Sandbox became safe spaces to be vulnerable, to fail - a luxury, not many managers get in the real world.

It also helped build a sense of community and helped the group leverage each other's strengths and experiences, unlike any instructor-led session.

👂 Sounding Boards

Sounding Boards were spaces for learners to bounce ideas on emerging topics:

  • Managing Remote Teams
  • Hiring Challenges
  • Managing Gen-Z Talent

Topics that everyone was struggling with and no one really had answers to.

What did we do?

We gave the control back to the learner. We let them choose the specific problem they were struggling with the most. Once we had these peer-led discussions, we invited instructors to share how they were tackling similar problems.

What happened?

Sounding Boards became spaces to bounce ideas and create knowledge with peers. Instructors helped in solidifying their learnings and looking at things from a fresh perspective.

By taking a peer-led learning approach, the People Leaders' Fellowship became the first program at NextLeap without any 'instructors' teaching topics.

Instead of sharing knowledge, experts during the fellowship focussed on:

  • Consolidating the peer discussion in smaller groups
  • Sharing their first-hand experience & their learnings
  • Helping arrive at tactical ways to solve a problem

In a nutshell, teachers need to evolve from being

Sandbox and Sounding Boards are just 2 ways in which we saw this happen.

With this program, we tried to push the boundaries of the learning experience. The learnings are going to help us iterate the next cohort of the People Leaders Fellowship and other future programs.

We’ve unlocked a whole new world of peer learning and we feel this is just the tip of the iceberg - there is so much more to come!