Prototype Reporting

Hi @grif, @Nico_Koenig. @Dirk_Uys and partners at Detroit, Multnomah, and Onondaga. I’m going to start this thread to provide some semi-real-time updates on the “quick and dirty” prototype that we’re doing with the earliest draft materials here in Pittsburgh before we share proper drafts with all of you.

Here’s what we’re doing:

  • Four community members are running through an adapted version of the Facilitator Training that P2PU published and that we saw in Boston. This is tailored to get our brave pioneers of peer-facilitation ready to…

  • …run learning circles in 2 library branches here in Pittsburgh. We chose neighborhoods that represent very different demographic and socioeconomic makeups. The volunteers will be supported by staff members, who will in turn be supported by us via the training that is being documented on the (super drafty) Staff Guide, which will become another deliverable of this project.

  • We will talk to everyone involved – peer-facilitators, staff, and participants – to get input about their experience with the training and the overall experience running learning circles in library branches. We’ll incorporate all of that feedback into draft materials that we’ll be working from as we kick off the full pilot in April next year.

  • We are also running a bit of a campaign to build support for learning circles and other non-formal adult learning at CLP and among our nonprofit community her in Pittsburgh with a whirlwind visit to Pittsburgh by Nico later this month. Here’s a look at his agenda. We’ll let you know it goes, and some of what we do here will go into guidelines for building support in your communities, even if you can’t fly Nico in to your town.

I’ll post more updates below, so please stay tuned.


We had our first peer facilitator training workshop this past week and it was very encouraging. This group of four wonderful people came to the library on a Sunday morning to engage in a very productive discussion about adult learning.

Here’s the slide deck we used to keep our discussion on track.

Here’s a photo of the flip chart notes (with apologies about my handwriting) from a discussion based on the prompt what does peer learning mean to you?


The group opened up about their experiences –

  • They came up with a great definition of peer learning without us having to tell them.

  • They shared personal experiences – one person who had worked with a literacy council in South Carolina and saw firsthand how a person’s race can impact their experience in formal ed; another who grew up in West Virginia shared how an experience learning the history of WV through art stuck with her and connected her to her roots; a few shared concerns about being strong personalities and wanting to learn to be better listeners; etc. Those are just a few ideas I pulled out.

  • Pluses were mostly about enjoying the conversation and being excited about the project; deltas were about wanting more of a chance to prepare for discussion and just wanting to have more time to talk.

Next week we’ll get into facilitation.

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Hi Pittsburgh project team and interested readers,

We had our second training with our first group of community peer facilitators yesterday, October 13. Once again, the conversation was great, and we probably overplanned content.

Here’s the slide deck we used to organize our thoughts.

Here’s our wonderful group. From left, Ade, Ehrinn, Emily, Ginny, Liz. (With Andrew Carnegie gazing down at us from above. Does he approve of this nonformal learning? Is he thinking about how to monetize it?)

We talked about learning at the library and some basics of how adults learn. The former was intended to provide some context for what this program will be doing among other library efforts to promote learning. We covered the latter by watching a short video on adragogy, which turned out to be a great jumping off point to discuss approaches to supporting learning.

And then we discussed the differences between facilitation and teaching.


Then we did 10 minute facilitation using the two climate videos that we used at the Boston gathering. We then took turns facilitating. It started slowly and hesitatingly but, by the time the ten minutes was up, it felt like we could have gone on for hours.

Pluses were, once again, everyone enjoyed the conversation, and they really liked having a chance to practice facilitation.

Deltas were, once agin, everyone wanted more time (we’ll probably either add an additional session or do a full two hours next time), and especially wanted more time to try facilitation.

Next week is our last session, focusing on logistics and next steps.

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