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Learning Circles Toolkit: Online Learning, Offline

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P2PU is proud to launch a toolkit designed to allow anyone to run their own Learning Circles: lightly ­facilitated study groups for learners who want to take online courses together in a public library or other community space.

In Spring and Fall 2015, P2PU and Chicago Public Library ran 17 Learning Circles in library branches across the greater Chicago region. These Learning Circles were designed to rise to the challenges of online education: low retention in online courses, limited access for disadvantaged populations, and the question of how public libraries can scale access to online learning content.  Across the city, adults came together to work through online courses in subjects ranging from Public Speaking to Web Design, Resume Writing to Registered Nursing Exam Prep.

Run Your Own Learning Circles

Working with facilitators, librarians, and course participants, P2PU has developed a Learning Circles toolkit, complete with software tools, facilitation guides, a list of curated courses, and marketing templates that make it easy for librarians to organize Learning Circles at their branch with little additional help needed. All of this material is on our site, for free, licensed for re-use and remixing and ready to be downloaded and used by anyone who needs it.

In addition to the toolkit, P2PU is available to support individuals and organizations looking to get started with Learning Circles. Our services include facilitator training workshops, course selection and adaption expertise, ongoing facilitator support, web hosting, and software tool integration.

More about Learning Circles

Working across 11 branches in the greater Chicago area as part of a Knight Foundation News Challenge, Learning Circles utilized freely available online content on topics including HTML/CSS (via Udacity), public speaking (via Coursera), and preparation for the Registered Nurse licensing exam (via Khan Academy). Learning Circles met for between 6-­8 weeks, contained between 2­-15 learners, and were facilitated by librarians who were not content experts in the subject matter.

During our partnership with CPL we averaged 45% learner retention (online learning retention rates are closer to 10%).  Additionally, 65% of learners we worked with had never taken an online course before, and a full 90% of learners were interested in taking another Learning Circle in 2016. Every librarian we worked with is on board to continue facilitating Learning Circles this year.

We hope that you’ll find this toolkit useful and begin running Learning Circles in your library or community group.

To get your started why not…

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