EDU:Take us through Peer-Ed—the concept as well as the process.
Dr Les Foltos: Peer-Ed was born to create and implement a highly effective professional learning and development environment for teachers. A part of the offerings is a programme called Peer Coaching, formed under the basic idea that teachers learn best when they learn from a trusted peer, someone who is just down the hall whenever needed. We had a clear picture of what Peer Coaching should be when we created it more than 10 years ago. We knew that teacher leaders were going to need stronger communication and collaboration skills to be successful. It was our belief that teachers of tomorrow must have an understanding of what goes into an effective learning activity—a 21st century learning activity. They must also know how to help peers improve the quality of their learning. And finally, teachers must have a thorough knowledge of the best practices in ICT and how technology really enriches and enhances interruptions. That’s what we’re about.
We also do some work in distance learning. For instance, we’ve just completed a project in
Q: What has been the outcome so far? Have you got the kind of results you were expecting out of Peer-Ed and Peer Coaching?
A: We created Peer Coaching in 2001 and in 2003, Microsoft came to us and asked if we wanted to make Peer Coaching part of a new international programme they were creating called ‘Partners in Learning’. As a result of that partnership, Peer Coaching is being actively implemented in more than 41 countries around the world. And it’s expanding! The reason that it’s expanding is that it really does help teachers improve the quality of their learning as much as the learning they are offering to the students. Peer Coaching makes learning more interactive and engaging, and helps students develop critical thinking skills, collaboration and creativity skills, among other things. What we’re observing is that with the help of some latest technological innovations, teachers are really able to make a difference to student learning. It is indeed moving a needle there.