Learning circles are different than what you might remember from school. Instead of sitting back and listening to a teacher talk, learners are responsible for running and directing the learning circle, discussing issues as a team, and offering peer support.
But don’t take our word for it! In 2018, the Technology and Social Change Group from the University of Washington summarized 150 tips from learners for future learning circle participants like you.
Here’s their advice for first-time learners:
Expect to work hard.
Completing the learning circle will require a good deal of effort. You will need to show your commitment and determination.
“Be prepared to work hard and make a commitment to the course” -Deborah from Boston who joined a learning circle on ‘The Science of Happiness’
Practice good habits.
If you want to do well, attend all of the learning circle sessions, pay attention during every session, complete some of the work from home, review your notes to prepare for sessions, and do the coursework as scheduled, not allowing yourself to fall behind.
Participation is very important to your success, so ask questions, share what you know, engage with others, and value teamwork.
“Get involved, particularly in something that you know will hold your interest, and ask questions. If you have personal experience with a subject, don’t be afraid to share how it has worked for you, so others may know it does work with applied application.” -Yashica from Chicago who finished a learning circle in ‘Music for Wellness’
“Be open to sharing your work and your ideas! Be committed to honestly providing feedback to other participants in the circle. This kind of nonjudgmental sharing creates community and is a blessing for those of us who are seeking to make progress.” -Lloyd from Boston following a learning circle on ‘Start Writing Fiction’
Bring a positive attitude.
A positive, cooperative attitude will be very conducive to learning in this environment and will allow you to learn from and with other participants.
“Communication is key, always get in touch with fellow participants and get to know them well including their interests and life pursuits. It makes the lessons fun and gives you more drive” -Musimbi from Nukuru, Kenya who completed a ‘Journalism for Social Change’ learning circle
Stay true to your path.
Although you will be doing group work, focus on learning the information and skills you want to develop and work at your own pace when you need to. Pursue a subject that you will find fun, very interesting, or are passionate about.
“Show up, do the work, and build yourself a portfolio, because the “certificate” is really just a paper indicating attendance, not an accomplishment.” – Pam from Boston who was part of a ‘Basic HTML & CSS’ learning circle