We are living in an unusually unprecedented time in our collective human history at this very moment, and none of us seem to truly realize it. Never in the history of our entire species has an average person had access to such a vast breadth of knowledge at their fingertips, as you and I do today. Knowledge available free of cost even, at varying levels of quality, from various sources - from independent Educators sitting in their bedrooms recording themselves or writing a blog post explaining something, to the world’s richest Universities putting out their expensive courses free of cost for everyone with an Internet connection to access.
And yet, it seems like most of us are unable to take any practical advantage of this universe of knowledge and apply it in our life. Why is that? My personal theory is that our own school system is responsible for this. Our school system doesn’t teach us how to teach ourselves, it doesn’t teach us how to figure out what resources to learn from, how to quickly find the information we need, how to connect the dots, how to design or intuitively follow our own learning path. Our school system doesn’t encourage us to ask questions, it teaches us to answer pre-designed questions. It provides all of us with the curriculum, the content, the resources, it provides everything it believes we need, and asks us to learn from them and then pass the examinations it sets up for us to evaluate our understanding of that material.
Because of this, even though today we live in a world where every single unit of knowledge ever discovered by mankind is simply a few clicks away, most of us don’t know how to take advantage of that. We do not know where to start, how to learn, what resources to go through. It’s all very unstructured, and that makes us very uncomfortable, because our school system has made us comfortable with a structured form of learning. And so, most of us are at a loss, and that’s absolutely fine. Anyone who struggles to self-learn, it is not their fault, and they shouldn’t feel so either. It’s the fault of the system that they were plugged into at a very young age.
But there has got to be a way out of this right? We cannot keep complaining about the Education system, we have to do something about it. And not just for the next generation, but also for the generation of people who have already come out of the failed system and are now part of our society, trying to figure their life out, trying to build their careers. There has got to be a way for them to close that gap and take advantage of the Internet today to make progress in their own life.
We believe there is such a way, and that is peer-learning. Peer-learning is a very simple idea, which has been researched countless times and shown extraordinary results in every single study.
What happens when you give a group of learners access to information to learn something they are all interested in, and remove the presence of any teacher or mentor from the room? Can the group help each other learn? The answer seems to be a resounding yes, and that’s not all. Peer-learning has shown to in-fact outperform most other models of learning, that involve a teacher.
When you really think about it, it makes a lot of sense. In a group of peers, there is usually some diversity in levels of understanding, and when you allow them to simply interact with each other, ask each other questions, account for each other, follow up with each other, the entire group evens out their level of understanding much more efficiently. And when the group has to learn something new, the diversity of thinking and perspectives helps the group overall to figure out the new concept much faster and better. Peer-learning provides a more dynamic form of learning of any topic, because it exposes you to various perspectives or questions that might arise from that topic and pushes you to collaborate together to figure out the answers to those questions.
The understanding of the concept is distributed among the peers in chunks, usually, and then the group interactions evens out and distributes those chunks, so that everyone gets a full understanding of the topic. It’s also much easier to approach a peer with questions, since they are far less intimidating than a teacher. It's a more comfortable environment, that leads to a higher learning output.
However, most of the studies done on peer-learning have been conducted at K12 school level, not really in higher education space. No one exactly knows how to design a peer learning environment and a productive peer-learning group. We want to change that. We want to conduct a comprehensive research study on how well peer learning can work as a model among adults who want to learn and progress in life, who have graduated college and are already integrated into society, working perhaps as professionals or currently job seeking. More on that in another post though.
So what is our big idea? A few years ago, we started wondering what would happen if we merge self-learning through the Internet with in-person peer-learning at a physical space, and provide it to software developers. Would that help them learn modern technologies better and faster? Would it help them make better progress in their career perhaps?
We called this idea the Coderplex Hackerspace. A dedicated physical space where you can come down to simply learn, interact with people who share the same interests as you, and engage in peer-learning and collaboration. In a sense, you can think of it as a modern supplement to college, but hopefully where you actually get some value back, and at a reasonable price!
We have been here before. Twice. We first launched our space in 2017, then re-launched it in 2018. You can read our launch articles for both as well :
1. We’re Building a Hackerspace for Developers in Hyderabad (2017)
2. We’re Re-launching Our Hackerspace For The Developers in Hyderabad (2018)
Over the last couple of years, we have iterated over this idea in various forms, and it has mostly lead to failure, for multiple reasons. But this time we are very confident that we have got it right!
We are launching a new peer-learning Hackerspace for the developers in Hyderabad in collaboration with InnovationHQ, where you can come down any time of the day, any day of the week, make new friends who share the same interests as you and engage in peer-learning and knowledge sharing with them to achieve your goals faster.
Coderplex and InnovationHQ are both strongly determined to help improve the state of tech across Hyderabad by building and providing a high quality learning space here that helps people learn modern technologies and progress much faster in their career!
What’s different this time? Two things, mainly.
- You will join the space in groups, not as individuals. Unless you are part of a group, you will not be taken in. This ensures that you have a peer group at all times that revolves around your topic of interest from the get-go, and are not left feeling confused and lost once you join.
- You pay on an hourly basis. You pay for what you use. In our last few iterations, most members would pay a monthly fee, and then be unable to come down to the space, which would waste their money. But with an hourly rate, you would only pay for the hours you are actually at the space and nothing more. We might offer a weekly and/or monthly package as well, based on the engagement at the space.
You do not ever come alone to the space. Once you are assigned into your peer-group, you interact with each other and design a schedule that works for every one in the group, and then you and at least one more person from the group can plan and come down to the space together.
Sounds interesting? Apply Now to be a part of it!
Q. How much does it cost?
A. We are charging 50 Rs / hour if you spend less than 3 hours in a day, and 30 Rs / hour if you spend more than 3 hours a day at the space. This is to incentivize you to spend more time at the space, engaging in peer-learning. In addition to this, if on any given day you feel like you have received a lot of value through the peer-learning, you are free to pay the cost of use for that day + any additional amount as a token of appreciation.
Q. What will be the theme of the peer groups?
A. Currently, we are focusing on just two domains - Data Science and Web Development (Frontend / Backend). Based on the submissions we get, we might even just pick one of these two domains, for now. We will expand to include more domains with time, looking at the results the space produces. This would help us manage and design the culture of the space for the peers much better.
Q. How do I join this space?
A. The application form is now live, you can submit it here : Join Coderplex Hackerpace. We are a very small team, and might take some time to get back to you. We hope that by the time we get back, you would still be interested in being part of the space. Please have some patience, and if needed, feel free to reach out to us at any time ([email protected]) for a follow up or to ask any questions.
Q. Where is the space even located?
A. The space is located at InnovationHQ, in Banjara Hills. It is very close to Lamakaan. It’s inside the lane beside the Times Office.
Q. What exactly are the timings of the space?
A. Any day of the week, between 8 am - 10 pm.
Q. How will my peer-group be assigned to me?
A. In our application form, we ask some very basic questions, and we will be factoring in your response to them to create and assign you to a peer-group. You are free to leave your assigned peer-group and join a different one, but you should be part of a peer-group at all times to utilize the space.
Q. Can I form a peer-group with my friends and come down?
A. Absolutely! Just ask your friends to also submit the application form, and inform us that you would like to be paired with your friends. We will then go through the applications, and most likely approve the group, unless we see a better fit for you or your friends with someone else who has applied.
Q. Do I need to come down to the space every single day?
A. No, you do not need to come down every single day. You can come down for a few hours just on the weekends as well, it's totally up to you and your peer group. In fact, once your peer-group is formed, there is no requirement for you to ever come down to the space. You can meet up with your peers in a coffee shop or anywhere else as well. We simply hope to build a space that can provide you and your peer group the proper peer-learning environment with a shared learning culture.
Q. Can I host talks, sessions, meeting with my peers at the space?
A. Yes, you can host private talks, sessions and meetings with your peers. You can even host meetups that are open for anyone outside of your group or even our space, open for all. You just need to let us know about it in advance, so that we can plan for it properly.
We are not masters in creating peer groups, we are simply passionate educators who want to help people learn and progress in their life. This is as much a new learning experience for us, as it would be for you. We will make mistakes, we ask for your forgiveness in advance for them. We will be experimenting with our assumptions, theories, ideas, to figure out what is the best way to create the most effective and efficient peer-learning space. We need your help in figuring out the answer to this question :)
You can find out a few more details here : coderplex.org/space
If you have any more unanswered questions, you can ask them in our community chatroom.