Because I have experience working with non-profits, I was immediately attracted to Beth Kanter’s blog. After reading through some of her posts, I quickly learned a ton of valuable information. I found her post on Peer Learning especially interesting as it correlated with some of my own experiences and presented new ideas.
When Kanter becomes involved in company workshops, she has them break into smaller groups that brainstorm and tackle different assignments together as they strive to the completion of one common goal. First, group members break the ice by sharing some of the accomplishments they are most proud of. As the professionals come from different backgrounds and possess different talents, this discussion is usual inspiring and is a learning experience for the group members. Then the groups are assigned their specific assignments. Not only does work get done quicker through this route, Kanter claims that interpersonal relations become stronger within the workplace as a result of this team work. At the end of the workshops, the teams combine to form a powerhouse network toward the completion of the singular task.
As a communication major, I believe this system of peer learning could be integrated in the senior capstone class, in which senior C&J majors break into smaller groups and fundraise for community groups. While I enjoyed this class and learned much about my group’s choice, Casa Esperanza, I only learned about what the other groups were involved with on the last day of class where each group presented on the project they had chosen. I was disappointed I did not have the opportunity to learn more about the other groups’ projects, such as Make A Wish or a Senior Prom for Seniors (Elders).
I believe the C&J senior capstone class could integrate community and peer learning for an even richer experience. While I think having the seniors break into groups is an effective way to reach out to different community groups, I think groups should also be formed from seniors that belong to different groups. These groups could meet occasionally throughout the semester to talk about their different projects and strategizes. This way, insights can be taken from other groups within the project development in order to strengthen the overall project.