At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when eLearning became the go-to training practice to accommodate safe social distancing, peer learning opportunities (also referred to as “collaborative learning”) declined as they were difficult to facilitate. But now, more manufacturers are returning to in-classroom training as a way to galvanize many of the benefits that eLearning could never replace.

Many organizations are now using a hybrid of the virtual and in-person learning and development (L&D) options. When combined, eLearning and peer learning provide employees with the opportunity to collectively learn and grow as a team. Both can now be paired for a flexible and tailored approach to training employees. Here’s why we see peer learning resurging in corporate training.

People Missed Training as a Team

Many companies and employees missed the opportunity to gather in a central location to learn and grow collectively. Through group-based training, we facilitate the dissemination of company-specific requirements and the opportunity for learners to engage with skilled facilitators and seek clarification on nuanced topics. This format creates a collaborative learning environment that fosters deeper comprehension, interaction and knowledge retention among participants.

The Return of Storytelling

In my experience, adult learners thrive when engaged through dynamic and interactive training techniques. Storytelling and scenario-based questions have long served as powerful tools to enhance adult learning. Rather than simply presenting information and testing basic recall, manufacturers can once again actively involve learners in processing and applying their knowledge. By immersing learners in relatable scenarios and practical decision-making exercises, peer learning takes adult learning to the next level, making it more memorable, relevant and applicable in real-world situations.

Interaction and Discussion

Peer learning allows employees to have impactful interactions and meaningful discussions. It fosters community and collaboration on teams, where learners can engage with their peers, share insights and pose questions to other participants and facilitators. This collective intelligence adds depth to the learning process, enabling participants to benefit from diverse perspectives and experiences. The adage, “All of us are smarter than any one of us,” appropriately describes the power of group-based training.

Critical Thinking and Reflection

Peer learning provides an opportunity to promote critical thinking and reflection. Beyond checking off training requirements, we encourage facilitators to create moments for thought-provoking questions and initiate group discussions. This approach is particularly valuable when addressing sensitive topics such as bias, equity and diversity. By fostering open dialogue and encouraging individuals to ponder these complex issues collectively, peer learning becomes a catalyst for cultural growth, empathy and the adoption of inclusive practices within the organization.

In an increasingly digital world, the endurance of peer learning stands as a testament to its irreplaceable value. Bringing employees together for collaborative learning experiences is essential and remains an important component of effective learning strategies. By incorporating adult learning techniques that leverage storytelling, scenario-based questions and decision points, trainers can unlock the full potential of their workforce, cultivating a culture of continuous learning and growth.