Using Technology to Reinforce Peer Interaction

You ask, Evolve answers! Evolve’s Chief Solution Strategist, Alex Ryan, and Lead Instructional Designer, Tristia Hennessey answer your learning and education technology questions.

How can organizations utilize technology to reinforce peer interactions?

It can be difficult to get learners to engage with each other and this collaboration is often undervalued in organizations. When peer to peer interaction is encouraged and learners get the opportunity to learn from each other it can be a powerful element in creating a learning culture in an organization. This collaboration is essential for the virtual workspace and can be beneficial even in an office environment.

Here are a few ways to foster and encourage peer to peer interaction in both cases:

· Be the example. If you want your organization to be engaged and make use of certain tools like Slack, Discord, Google Meet or Microsoft Teams, use the tool the way that you would want to see others use it. Be active on those tools and encourage others to do the same. Model the behavior that you want to see.

· Identify your champions and your expert users for your selected tools. Encourage them to use the tools so they become familiar enough that they can teach others how to use them effectively. Talk openly and often about the benefits of those collaborative tools and communication tactics.

· Demonstrate how you’ve used the tool in ways that have made your work easier. This can help others understand how they might be able to use those learning or communication tools to their own unique advantage.

You can also use your existing LMS or tools such as those mentioned above to increase peer interaction and engagement. Use breakout rooms and structure the learning experience to have different focuses for each room. One room could have learners watching a video together while in another room, the instructor is working on an activity or reinforcing a concept. After a few minutes learners can change rooms and afterwards have a discussion and compare their experiences.

Aside from these more common applications there are other possibilities. The use of VR technology can create a safe space for a collaborative project, ideation or prototyping and brainstorm. Technology like Horizon Worlds, ShapesXR, and other metaverse tools can allow people to feel like they’re really together which can help to foster connections.

We often forget as professionals that teaching is learning to talk openly and willingly about the tools and what purpose they serve. Be the example, look for your champion or expert users and have them be additional resources for the team, and ask yourself what tools and technologies might work in your organization to foster peer to peer interaction.

All things considered always make sure that you are looking at current tools that you have in your organization and leveraging what might already be familiar to fit your needs.