Application of the peer learning principles in the field of education has a long history. Lot of research has been done by psychologists, sociologists and educators on this and results have been positive. Peer learning has been seen as an effective methodology for gain deeper understanding of the concepts by formal or informal interaction among the peers. Peer learning promotes active participation among students and gives them a space to re-enforce their own learning. Since, the students share common educational or professional backgrounds, it creates interest in the topic. It also gives students a platform to build their communication, presentation and teaching skills.
We at IPH, used one of the aspects of peer learning principles, for our e-learning course in Public Health Management (ePHM). Based on their performance in the course, we selected the top ten students of 2015 batch. We invited them to take classroom sessions for their peers. The theme of the classroom session was – “One Challenge – One Public Health Management Principle”. The students had to talk about one challenge they faced at their workplace and how they applied one public health management principle to overcome the same. The objective of this exercise was to give an opportunity to the students to share their experiences from the field with the fellow students and at the same time give them a feel of how we record our online classrooms.
The response from the invited students was amazing. The students who were based in Bengaluru visited our office and recorded a session with us. Others who were residing outside Bengaluru had a hangout or Skype session with us and recorded the classroom. The students took sessions on different topics like community participation, systems thinking, leadership and development, breast feeding and health systems dynamics framework. We converted their sessions into online classrooms and uploaded it on our online platform, Moodle for sharing with their peers.
It was very interesting to see how the students, who are busy professionals also, took out time and prepared Powerpoint presentations and recorded sessions with us. Our next step is to understand from students how they benefited from this learning methodology. Since, this is the era of experimentation, we would love to step ahead and explore other peer learning methodologies in our courses for enhanced learning experience!