Lessons from pair programming applied to online training

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Although pair programming is usually associated with code writing, there are some lessons and benefits that also apply to online training. 

What is pair programming?

Search 'pair programming' and what follows is often the first definition you will read - An agile software practice where two developers write code together in a single machine. Two heads think, two hands write.

Dig a little deeper, though, and what you'll find is that this practice goes well beyond the writing activity. The written code is the result. What underlines it is a highly collaborative process between two or more people (pairs can easily grow into mobs) that together analyse problems, raise hypothesis and discuss implementations. Much like the scientific method, really.

It has been proven that teams that successfully apply pair programming increase the quality of software by producing fewer bugs on a code that easily adapts to change.

If we move away from the code a bit, there are other advantages that are even more relevant in the medium/long run. The intense collaboration within and between teams can effectively break knowledge-silos and communication barriers. By mixing people with different backgrounds and levels of experience - that together share learning, pains and gains - you can increase the level of understanding of your business, promote empathy between your team members and allow them to receive constant training from each other. Nothing to lose here, in the end it all comes back to the company in the form of employee retention and high-quality results.

Two heads are better than one

Though very popular in the programming world, this idea of peer-to-peer collaborative learning is not new nor exclusive to the software industry.

Lev Vygotsky (1896–1934) was one of the first to look outside the individualistic view of student performance and instead understand what people are capable of in a social setting. He found that when working or learning with what he called 'a more knowledgeable other' we often accomplish more than what we would have alone. The more knowledgeable other can be anyone with more experience in a particular theme or task but it can also be a tool or technology.

More recently, studies by Bruner and Gokhale, published in the 80's and 90's respectively, argue that collaborative learning is not so different from individual learning in terms of factual knowledge but rather as a critical-thinking and problem-solving enhancer. The confrontation of different interpretations and arguments is what makes people thrive.

Enhancing collaborative learning with an online training academy

Online training gives us the opportunity to combine the power of technology with peer-to-
peer collaboration both serving as our more knowledgeable other. Here are some tips to make sure your students are getting the most out of it:

1. Connect with your audience

Your academy does not have to be all about the course contents. You can expand on other relevant topics through Posts, Videos or News, schedule Events, request your audience to participate on surveys whose results are shared with everyone, or even chat with each student individually.
Improve engagement with bugle's Community tool

 

2. Facilitate the communication between students and course authors

It's common for students to have specific questions that only the course author can answer. Assist student-author communication through synchronous or asynchronous tools. You can use live streams for Q&A sessions and/or provide students with a Q&A message board.
Add YouTube videos as course chapters in bugle video training platform


3. Facilitate the experience within peers

Consuming online courses does not have to be a solitary activity. Make use of challenges to incite your students to share how they would solve a particular problem with other students.
You can also use Q&A message boards not only as a direct contact with the course authors but also for students to learn with other people's questions.
If you prefer a more immediate contact, schedule an in person or online event to discuss the key learning points of a particular course with your students.
Interact and engage with your learners before, during and after training

4. Make use of your academy's communication tools

Besides the already mentioned in-house engagement tools, contacting your students outside your digital academy might also be a good way not only to send reminders and notifications but also to share any other relevant training content or news. Customize emails so they can be sent individually or to segmented groups.

5. Segment your audience

It's likely that your audience works in different areas or regions, or have different interests and goals. Provide a customised training experience that will not only help you manage your academy but also provide your students with the most valuable content and peers for their current needs.
Match learning content with learner profiles

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Would you like to learn about how to create effective video training courses, in an efficient way? Check out this free certification course, created by bugle's Digital Learning Solutions' team, at the bugle Academy.

Creating an Effective Online Course

You may also find interesting:
Design tips to create effective training videos (article)
Why visual communications are key to creating effective videos (article)
How to increase your audience's engagement with your course (article)
Video formats for Training (Video & Poster)
Using video in online training: the instructional design perspective (article)
How education shaped Humankind (article)


Would you like to learn more about how bugle can help you with your company's training needs? Let's talk.

Writen by Ana Silva
26-Nov-2020 09:15:00

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