TLSS - Teaching and Learning Support Service

Peer Assist

Summary of Peer Assist

Peer Assists are events which bring together individuals to share their experiences, insights and knowledge on an identified challenge or problem.

Transcription: pdf (303 KB)



Prior to the Peer Assist session, the Peer Assistee (the individual or team facing a challenge or problem):

  • Sends an invitation to his/her peers asking them to participate in the session.
  • Identifies a facilitator and works with him/her to ensure that the session moves in a positive direction by supporting the dialogue and recording the ideas generated on a flipchart.
  • Arranges a venue for the session and organises the space with chairs in a circle around the flipchart.

During the Peer Assist session:

  • The Peer Assistee presents his/her situation to the group. The problem or challenge should be summarised on the flipchart in point form and articulated as clearly as possible in less than 5 minutes.
  • Participants are encouraged to ask questions bringing out details of the situation.
  • Participants are then invited to make suggestions based on their experiences of how the situation might be improved.
  • The facilitator (i) keeps track of the discussion on the flipchart, and (ii) provides an environment conducive to sharing experiences.
  • Towards the end of the session, which generally lasts anywhere from 20 - 45 mins, the facilitator may invite a final suggestion or idea from each participant. A summary of the ideas is then presented.
  • The Peer Assistee informs the group how s/he will follow-up with the group.


Peer Assist Resources

This animation is based on the peer assist methodology as outlined in the book Learning to Fly - Practical Knowledge Management from Leading and Learning Organisations by Chris Collison and Geoff Parcell (Capstone Publishing, 2001, 2004).

"Today, no one is, nor can be, an expert in everything. In every challenge, it is easy to feel that you don't know enough to keep up with the accelerating pace of change inside our organisations, let alone the world outside. Start with the assumption that somebody somewhere has already done what you are trying to do. How can you find out whom, and learn from them? Learning to Fly shows exactly how to put knowledge management theory into practice, sharing the tools used and the experience and insights gained by two leading practitioners." (an excerpt from Amazon)

The outline of the rotating peer assist in Learning to Fly was a joint contribution by the KM for Development (KM4Dev). KM4Dev is a community of international development practitioners who work in the area knowledge management and knowledge sharing issues and approaches.

Special thanks to Geoff Parcell for supporting our interest in promoting the peer assist and having it adapted widely.


About the collaboration

The University of Ottawa Centre for Innovative Pedagogies and Digital Learning (CIPDL) and Bellanet are collaborating to create a series of e-Learning modules designed to strengthen knowledge sharing within networks, organizations, and individuals. The series specifically targets the use of organizational learning processes and collaborative online tools. Each module remains under 10 minutes and uses an animation to demonstrate how such tools can be used effectively.

If you or your organization are interested in participating in or sponsoring future e-Learning modules please contact .


About the licence

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License. To view a copy of this license, visit


Get involved, get creative!

There are a number of ways that you can get involved in the development of future modules or build on the existing ones from providing feedback to translating the script to creating a mash-up of sorts.

Providing Feedback: We are planning to create additional modules on methodologies such as the After Action Review and online collaboration tools such as wiki. Any ideas or suggestions that you have for improvement are appreciated.

Translating the Script: We would welcome translation of the script into other languages. Currently, the English and French versions are available.

Mash-Ups: This module has been made available under a creative commons license so that it can be modified (often called a 'mashup'). The license creates almost limitless opportunities to contribute and to build upon this original piece of work. The peer assist module flash files have been posted here. Feel free to add or delete scenes or change the audio into another language.

The one thing that we ask is that you let us know what you have done so that we can highlight it and share it with others. Please drop us a line at or post the information directly to the KS Animation Dgroup.



If you would like to get in touch with us directly, please feel free to contact the Centre for Innovative Pedagogies and Digital Learning (CIPDL) at the University of Ottawa and/or Bellanet International .