Peer learning and exchange is a method that combines learning by experiencing and learning with others. It requires bringing together peers (or individuals usually from different organizations) who work on similar issues and immersing themselves in a particular environment for several days to learn about other contexts, apply tools and skills, and in some cases, solve problems together. Peer exchange is normally done in groups, but certain variations such as peer coaching allow peers to learn in pairs.
Peer learning and exchange can be done in-person, online, or a combination of the two. This page focuses on face-to-face peer exchanges.
When to use
Peer learning and exchange have many potential uses, all anchored on making people “learn” from other people who are in the same domain and/or with the same challenges and/or tasked to solve similar problems. This method can be used:
There are different variations of the use of peer learning and exchange. What I will detail here is one employed by the ILO’s Microinsurance Innovation Facility where individuals from different organizations around the world are brought together to one host organization. The objective is normally for the visiting peers to learn about other contexts and apply their skills to solve a problem encountered by the host organization, and for the host to gather innovative recommendations in exchange for all the preparations needed.
The steps in this type of peer exchange are:
Note that the preparations for a peer exchange takes on average about three to five months, due to the heavy preparations and communication particularly with the host organization.
The ILO’s Microinsurance Innovation Facility has had two peer exchange activities following the format described above:
In 2013, we brought together PLG members in an exchange in Dhaka, Bangladesh to experience and suggest client value improvement work to a microfinance institution called Sajida Foundation. To learn more about this peer exchange, watch the video at: http://www.microinsurancefacility.org/videos/peer-learning. If you would like to know more about the technical aspects of the visit, you can go to: http://www.microinsurancefacility.org/events/exchange/sajida-banglades-2013
In 2012, we brought together PLG members in an exchange in East London, South Africa to experience and suggest client value improvement work to a regulated insurance company called Old Mutual. To learn more about this peer exchange, read the article at: http://www.microinsurancefacility.org/sites/default/files/article_plg_7.pdf. And if you would like to know more about the technical aspects of the visit, you can go to: http://www.microinsurancefacility.org/events/exchange/old-mutual-south-africa-2012
In facilitating peer learning/exchange activities, a number of methods can be useful:
All photos are from the ILO's Microinsurance Innovation Facility.