You were never meant to learn by yourself. Learning is not an isolated process. At multiple points in our learning journey, you are meant to have peers, communities, teachers to guide, direct and help you navigate.
Imagine a learning journey as a voyage. Voyages are a massive human effort with individuals playing different roles. There are multiple people taking turns to navigate the tough water and an army to support the captain. Learning is just like a voyage with a goal and fellow voyagers to help make the journey safe, fun and meaningful.
Learning communities have been very kind to me. These communities have guided me through career transitions, upskilling, interview prep and more. The most valuable were the friendships and sponsors that I gained through these communities.
In this blog, we will explore the three themes that bind learning communities and actionable takeaways to find or build your own community:
If you look around, learning communities are everywhere. They are at your workplace where colleagues are solving a problem together, students studying together for a milestone exam or a cross fit class. There are three themes that bind learning communities together:
1. Common goal
Learning communities are founded to solve a problem. Individuals come together for a common goal and to find others who are on the same path.
In learning communities, accountability is built organically without an authority driving it. For example, if you are a part of a cross fit club or a hiking troop, your accountability increases naturally as you follow others through the journey. Learning communities help you make improvements with the support of others.
One of the most common reasons for communities that thrive is the formula of consistency. If you win, the community celebrates the win and that inspires you to keep going. If you lose, the community supports you and that unbound support inspires you to do better.
You must be wondering if learning communities are difficult to find or join. The answer is absolutely no. Here are three actionable ways to find a community:
a. Word of mouth
Find peers at work, on social media who are on similar learning paths. Twitter and LinkedIn have been great resources for me.
b. Ask your mentor
Believe it or not, your mentor knows communities that you might not have heard of. If you have a mentor, ask for recommendations or resources. If you do not have a mentor, find a peer who is 5-10 years ahead compared to you for recommendations.
c. Course-led community
If you plan to take courses to up skill, find peers who are in that course and if you have opportunities to learn with them. Cohort based courses spin off into learning communities that last longer than the lifetime of the course.
There are many ways to find learning communities. Are there suggested ways to build your own learning communities? Yes. Here are three simple tips to get started:
a. Find 5 peers and set up a call or a coffee event
If you are learning to code, find 5 peers on Twitter, LinkedIn and set up a call or meet them for coffee. The first step of building a community is to bring like–minded people together who are on similar paths and want to learn together.
b. Roles and responsibilities
Communities are high on motivation at the beginning and it tapers off. Each community member should have roles to help build and keep momentum going. Roles could be as simple as finding locations to meet, setting up projects or bringing guest speakers. Each member should have ownership that leads to the success of the community.
c. Agendas and non-agenda days
Communities have a purpose but it is also an opportunity for people to come together to share and make memories. Agendas are great but leave opportunities for non-agenda days that are fun.
Communities are like classrooms without authority