Facilitator Guide: Group Learning in a Self-Paced Course

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Courses that are designed to be self-paced often pose challenges for the learner, especially around feelings of isolation and lack of motivation. This guide provides a framework for organizing, structuring and leading a group of learners through self-paced courses on any topic. Once you understand the value of learning in groups, you will gain insights into setting up the logistics, facilitating discussions and guiding a group toward learning success.

Why Learn Together?

“By convening a group of learners who are interested in a similar topic, you’ve got the basis for an open, collaborative learning environment that has the potential to be the support system many learners need. Peer learning can create a rich learning environment in which everyone simultaneously teaches and learns, acts and observes, speaks and listens.” (P2PU Learning Circles Facilitator Handbook, www.p2pu.org).

Learning groups are lightly-facilitated study groups for people to learn together. They provide a collaborative environment that has the potential to increase motivation as the group sets attainable goals together and connects their learning to practical application. Learners in a group share ideas and insights, answer each other’s questions, and expose each other to new perspectives and solutions. They form bonds as a community and reflect together on progress, which boosts confidence.

What is a Learning Group Facilitator?

Learning group facilitators are not teachers, and are not expected to be subject matter experts with “correct” answers on the topics. Your primary role is to convene and coordinate the group and to guide discussions. As a facilitator, you will be helping to cultivate an environment in which learning and sharing among participants leads to desired outcomes. You may be involved with the group as a co-learner or you may be guiding at the higher level of a training coordinator or supervisor.

This guide was first developed for the Supercharged Storytimes project, funded by OCLC and with a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, RE-95-17-0085-17.

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