'Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.” This quote from Albert Einstein, a school dropout and one of the greatest scientists of all time, succinctly sums up what the traditional approach to education lacks. Great leaders and successful people have often pointed out two major sources of learning that influenced/shaped their thinking while at school — great teachers and peers.
Relying on traditional learning methods, with classroom lectures as the main mode of instruction, makes one highly dependent on teachers for their educational requirements. The teacher-to-student mode of instruction is also a largely passive one, as students are bombarded with information with little to no room for engaged discourse.
Moreover, formal educational systems lay an unhealthy emphasis on rote learning that mainly involves memorising, recalling, and repeating facts. As a result, students acquire passive knowledge in abundance without having any idea of how to apply it in a work environment.
The paucity of great teachers who can inspire, motivate and unlock the learning compasses of their students is well known. The more the population, the more the need for great teachers it is. However, the ability to produce them is limited by many factors like policy, budgets, resources, training, etc.
While students learn greatly from each other while at school / college, their ability to learn from each other reduces while at home or separated by distances. This is where information technology has a major role to play and new advances are changing the way students learn.
Peer-to-peer learning is a pedagogical method that involves students learning from each other in an interactive manner, explaining ideas and concepts in a simplified manner to facilitate greater and faster learning. In a peerbased setup, they learn by searching for, analysing, evaluating, compiling, and applying information in a project or assignment, thereby enhancing their problem-solving and collaborative skills.
Today, information is available anytime, anywhere and any device paradigm rules the work and life spaces. Thanks to the Internet, several online platforms now facilitate easy access to academic material using smartphones. Much of the content is teacher/ tutor led.
Students can access notes of other students from anywhere in the world on the platform on their computer or smartphones. Within seconds acquire relevant information on a subject through self-prepared notes, typed notes, assignments, presentations, case-studies, blogs, and research materials. Most notes (over 85 per cent) are free of cost reflecting the best spirit of collaboration.
In addition to facilitating subject knowledge and problem solving, these platforms provide students with the right tools to quickly connect and get quick resolution of issues. Video chats, instant message chats, shared desktops, mirrored screen technologies are some of the latest technologies that are bringing students together from across the world.
Outcomes can be optimised by incorporating it into the academic curriculum to create a more conducive learning environment. Various studies conducted among students prove that studying within small, collaborative groups helps build confidence and provides a significant impetus for critical thinking with greater expression of ideas.
This is a highly effective tool in developing a learner-centric approach to formal and informal education. By enhancing one's ability to understand and effectively apply concepts in the real world, peer-based learning offers a holistic mode of education. This helps personal and academic development to be a valuable part of the skilled workforce.
The writer is chief executive officer and co-founder, Notesgen