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Speaking of "drop in" situations

 Just saw this video about a library with "learning circles" in Detroit.   



David J. Rosen's picture

Hi Susan and others,

Learning circles are catching on in libraries in the U.S. (Chicago, Illinois; Kansas City, Kansas;  Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts, Miami Lakes, Florida, Charlotte, North Carolina,  etc.) and in other parts of the world (Ontario, Canada; Nairobi, Kenya; Paris, France; Ankara, Turkey,  etc.) They are a free nonformal blended learning model that consists of an online resource (usually a course) and a weekly face-to-face meeting. They can last any number of weeks, typically ranging from three to 12. All the participants enroll in the same online course that they may do during face-to-face meeting time, on their own, or both, depending on their comfort and competence in using and access to the Internet.

There is an 18-month pilot project funded by the Dollar General Foundation and jointly sponsored by Peer to Peer University, the creator of learning circles, and World Education to enable adult ESOL/ESL programs with waiting lists to offer learning circles to people seeking English classes while they wait.  I am the internal evaluator of that pilot project.

If you or others reading this have questions about learning circles you can post them here or email me, and I'll try to answer them.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS Community Integrating Technology group



Kathy_Tracey's picture

Hi all, 

I invite you to check out this site  - - and explore some more discussions, examples, and details about learning circles. Several years ago, I was part of a team that organized learning circles for developing literacy learners. We found our retention increases as students were engaged in a very participatory environment. 

Have any of you used these types of structured environments? If so, how did you get them started? Do you feel they aid in retention for students? 

I'd love to hear your experiences. 


David J. Rosen's picture

Hi Kathy,

Thanks for calling our attention to the Pepperdine University model of learning circles. Although it appears to focus on postsecondary education students, and is a more formal model, I think many of the values and assumptions are the same as the P2PU learning circles that are offered primarily by public libraries or adult basic skills (including ESOL/ESL) programs.  In any case, a "learning circle" is not a trademark or brand as far as I know, and has some things in common with "study circles" which in turn were influenced  by the Chatauquas that sprang up over a century ago as one of the first major forms of adult nonformal learning in the United States.

David J. Rosen

David J. Rosen's picture

Kathy, and others,

In the Peer to Peer University (a metaphor, not an actual university) model most of the learning circles, in the U.S. and in other countries, are created by public libraries. There are three New England states that altogether have five adult ESOL/ESL learning circles sponsored by community-based organizations, a library system, and a public school adult basic education center, under the auspices of World Education and Peer to Peer University. In all of these sites, and in public library sites in other states and countries, people who are interested in starting learning circles have contacted Peer to Peer University (P2PU). Depending on whether the organization wants training and other services that P2PU can provide, there may be a fee, or it may be free. The learning circles are always free to learners. Anyone who is offering a learning circle can join the active P2PU online community of practice and learn from and share with other learning circle facilitators and coordinators. Often the learning circle facilitators are volunteers and receive training and supervision from a trained volunteer coordinator. Those who wish to start a learning circle, and wonder what free online courses might be available, can search the P2PU online database for course topics, and course start and end dates if relevant.

David J. Rosen