What is peer-to-peer learning?

Studying at Hive Helsinki is based on peer-to-peer learning and peer evaluation. What exactly does it mean that you learn from your peers? School Director Minna Kivihalme explains why peer learning is Hive Helsinki’s method of choice.

Peer-to-peer learning is an education model where students learn from each other instead of learning from an appointed teacher. It emphasizes critical thinking, teamwork and communication. Students also evaluate each other and learn from explaining to peers. The model employed at Hive Helsinki was developed at École 42 in France, and it has been proven a success in ten schools worldwide.

Peer-to-peer learning as such is in wide use throughout the Finnish education system: everyone with a basic education has been involved in a group assignment. However, peer-to-peer learning as the main study method is one of the most important characteristics setting Hive Helsinki apart from other institutes of higher education. Why was this method chosen by Hive Helsinki?

Collaboration skills are key to employment

School Director Minna Kivihalme thinks peer-to-peer learning serves the students of Hive Helsinki best, because it develops the skills that are needed in working life. In other words, the method supports employment after graduation.

“Coding is something that people often associate with sitting at the computer alone. However, working life is all about collaboration – also in tech jobs, where programming is a means to solve problems. Therefore, Hive graduates should be ready to work as part of a team. Peer learning is a great way to prepare for that”, Kivihalme says.

“At Hive, students are encouraged to get to know each other, find teammates with similar interests, and take charge of their own studies. Learning to solve problems in groups develops social skills, and peer evaluation spurs students to move forward together as a team”, she continues.

Independent but not alone

According to Kivihalme, peer-to-peer learning requires a proactive and independent attitude towards studying. For example, at the Selection Piscine, students will be thrown directly in the deep end: they will be given very little time to solve problems that are very demanding. However, Hive students are not left totally to their own devices.

“At the beginning of each assignment, students will be handed a brief highlighting the important aspects of the problem. They will receive information about how to get going and where to find information”, Kivihalme explains.

Moreover, students will be offered opportunities to participate in activities outside their school projects. Hive Helsinki believes in keeping students close to the “real world” by organizing regular events with guest speakers, hackathons and other forms of collaborations with companies and organizations.

“Our staff is there to support students in learning to work in teams. The pedagogy team will coach students in giving and receiving feedback, among other things, and offer study counseling if necessary”, Kivihalme notes.

“We recognize that our way of working is not for everyone. That being said, we are looking for students who will thrive at Hive”, she concludes.

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