Peer2Peer University Nonformal Learning Circles Model Featured in Tuesday's Google Hangout

Nonformal Education Colleagues,

At 4:30 ET on Tuesday, May 24th, Peer 2 Peer University's Learning Circles lead, Grif Peterson, and his colleague from the Chicago Public Library will be talking about a successful nonformal adult learner blended learning model that has been operating in branch public libraries in Chicago. To join this 30-minute, U.S. Department of Education-sponsored Google Hangout:

Go to  No registration needed. Join the discussion using #FutureReady .

David J. Rosen

Moderator, Technology and Learning CoP



I would like to follow up on Tuesday's U.S. Department of Education-sponsored Google Hangout on nonformal learning models with a few questions about Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU). Grif Peterson, the Learning Lead there, has joined the Technology and Learning Group, and I invite him and his Chicago Public Library colleagues -- if they can join us -- to respond.

1. For the benefit of those who could not attend the Google hangout, could you provide an introduction to P2PU and links to where T & L members could get more information about it?

2. Could you tell us what Learning Circles are, and why they were created?

3. Could you tell us about the pilot testing of Learning Circles in the branches of the Chicago Public Library? For example, what were the demographics of those who attended the Learning Circles? What courses did they take through Learning Circles? What is the role of the Learning Circle facilitator? Who were the facilitators, and how were they trained?

4. What were the outcomes for those who participated in Learning Circles? Did they complete the courses and/or accomplish their stated learning objectives? Any other interesting outcomes?

5. How do you see Learning Circles benefiting adults who need basic skills, for example those who may be on waiting lists for English language learning classes or those who are preparing to take a high school equivalency exam?

6. Where are Learning Circles being used now?

Everyone, if you have questions for Grif or for his Chicago Public Library colleagues, please post them.


David J. Rosen

Moderator, Technology and Learning CoP





David, my WhatsApp student groups are very good Peer to Peer Learning Circles. Mentors or tutors emerge from the students themselves, and  I have observed that people's confidence in speaking and writing English increases under these conditions.

For Nonformal adult education, technology in general "saves the day" and I am convinced that it's use is important in order to increase attendance in any class.


Hi Paul,

Just to be clear, Peer2Peer University is a U.S. based not-for-profit organization that offers an open source model called Learning Circles; these consist of an online course led by a trained facilitator who is often a librarian, but I believe could be a volunteer or a learner, a peer, who has successfully completed a Learning Circle and  facilitator training.

"Study circle" is a more generic term for what you describe, although in study circle models I am familiar with there is also always a trained facilitator (who is sometimes a participant), and there is usually a selected collection of group readings. Study circles have a long history in the U.S. beginning with 19th century Chatauquas, and including several recent foundation-supported efforts to increase U.S. civic education, and also in Sweden, where for many years they have been supported with public funding and been a mainstay of community nonformal education for thousands of people. *

David J. Rosen

* I have linked to Wikipedia definitions, but caution that the history of Study Circles as evolved from Russia, described in the "study circles" article there may not be entirely accurate. I have included it because it provides more information about how they are used in Sweden.