Learning Together the Supercharged Way

Brooke Doyle, Supercharged Storytimes Project Coordinator /

How many of us have started an online course and lost enthusiasm or interest after a few sessions? My guess is most of us would answer yes. Learning in a group can provide that motivation to stick with a course through to completion. It can be incredibly satisfying and enriching to work through course material with a group of co-learners – acquiring a common language about a subject, discussing the local relevance of a topic, supporting each other in applying the learning, sharing different perspectives. The group forms bonds and creates community, which heightens learning readiness. Group learning can even boost self-confidence as the cohort sets achievable and attainable goals together. We model learning and build supportive learning relationships that can create a culture of life-long learners.

A learning group (or learning circle or cohort) needs a facilitator to keep on track. Facilitators are not teachers and are not expected to be subject matter experts with “correct” answers to learners’ questions. A facilitator’s primary role is to convene and coordinate the group and to guide discussions. A facilitator helps to cultivate an environment in which learning and sharing among participants leads to desired outcomes.

WebJunction recently hosted Facilitator Training for Supercharged Storytimes, which prepared approximately 100 participants to lead groups of learners through the Supercharged Storytimes self-paced course. Participants learned about the value of learning and best practices for facilitating a learning group. The learning group scenarios ranged from a few people in a small system to a multi-level approach across a state. No matter the size, they all share the benefits of learning in a group. The Supercharged Storytimes course material includes emphasis on the value of peer learning and sharing. Approaching the content through a learning group provides great opportunities for practice, particularly in the assessment module where group members can observe each other and offer constructive feedback. One pillar of Supercharged Storytimes is engaging with a community of practice and this approach builds one from the beginning that will hopefully continue beyond the course.

WebJunction is making the Supercharged Storytimes Facilitator Guide (pdf), developed for the training, available to anyone who would like to use it in a learning group. The guide could be used to facilitate any learning group and could be customized to learn together on any topic. The Facilitator Guide includes Tactics and Tips for Success, Logistics and Checklists, and Module Discussion Guides that contain supplemental discussion questions and activities for each module of the Supercharged Storytimes self-paced course suitable for a group learning setting. This guide is a great resource to help jump start peer learning at your library. Jenna Neugebauer, a participant in the Facilitator Training, commented, “I see group learning as a vital component for creating a meaningful and lasting impact.” We hope the Facilitator Guide is a useful tool to spur group learning that will have a lasting impact in your library.

The Facilitator Guide is inspired by the excellent examples set by Peer-to-Peer University and the Richland Library’s Supervisor Learning Circles Guide. For more on Learning Circles, Groups and Facilitation: