How do we learn together when we can't meet together?

In the COVID-19 moment that we’re all in, how should we think about our collective work when a big part of learning circles is about encouraging people to meet-up in public spaces?

When I see libraries canceling their public programs, and I hear calls for people to work (and learn) online, I am reminded of three points:

We can’t all "just learn online"

Try our “anyone can learn anything” group activity with your friends or colleagues, especially when one of them says, “we can all just learn and work online now”. Here is every response we’ve heard to that statement over the past three years. My advice is that it is important to remain mindful of the real barriers to online learning, when, inevitably, there will be suggestions or requirements, to move in-person meetings to online spaces.

There are free ways to meet online
Learning circles have always been about finding accessible and inclusive spaces to meet and learn together. We value in-person meetings, but we are not against online learning circles. If that works for your learning circle or if there are reasons not to meet in person, go ahead, by any means, meet online or find another way to learn together that works for your group. The learning circle model works the same way as long as you consider people’s experiences and situations (see above!).

If you’re going to meet online, I want to remind you about platforms that don’t track your data, blast you with ads, or require you to pay. My favorite is Jitsi. It’s so easy to use that you will wish you had known about it years ago. Try it out! Visit and add any meeting name you want like this Voila! A free, open-source video conference link has been created for you and up to 200 people!

This moment is not in the course
Bring in people’s perspective, knowledge, and feelings about COVID-19, or, anything that is happening the world today into your learning circle. At a minimum, it’s a talking point that creates a common connection between people. On another level, it could also influence the entire learning circle’s direction. Maybe there is something that is happening locally that relates to your learning circle. Perhaps there is a project that your learning circle could work towards that meets a local concern. Like all learning circles, localize and personalize learning materials within a local context and existing knowledge.

What do you think?

  • Do you have contingency plans for your learning circles or other public events?
  • How is your organization responding?
  • How do you think P2PU should react to COVID-19?