Introduction to P2PU and learning circles

P2PU is a community of librarians, educators, community organizers and designers.

Together, we create and support free, social, learning experiences in our neighborhoods.

What is a learning circle?


Learners meet

in a public space

like a library

For two hours

a week for

6-8 weeks

To complete a free online course together

Learning circles are groups of people who learn something together.

Facilitators can choose from hundreds of free online courses that people have used in the past, or add a new course from anywhere around the web.

What can people learn?

Each learning circle meeting has four components:

  • Check in
  • Coursework
  • Activity
  • Plus/Delta

First, there is a check-in to hear how everyone is doing, what they are working on today, and where they might need help.

  • Check in

The heart of the learning circle is working through course materials. This can be done individually, in small groups, or all together gathered around a single computer or projector.

2. Coursework

P2PU creates group activities, each 15-20 minutes long, designed to support peer learning and bridge the gap between the online course and real life.

3. Activity

To close, everybody shares one thing that went well that day (“plus”), and one thing to change for the next week (“delta”) .

4. Plus/Delta

Online learning, face to face

  • Learning circles subvert the traditional teacher/student format in favor of peer-to-peer learning.
  • Every learning circle has a facilitator, who does not have to be a subject expert.

Choose a course

Delegate tasks to participants

What is expected of a facilitator?

Lead group discussion

Publicize learning circle

Set up the room each week

Foster curiosity and exploration

library of online courses at

training videos, promotion templates, and other resources at

learning circle creation tool

learning circle sign up page

learning circle insights report

discussion forum at

Learning circles began at Chicago Public Library in 2015...

...and is now a global community.

We’ve found that


Lead to retention rates 10x higher than online courses alone

Increase people’s agency as self-guided learners

Increase people’s ability to set and achieve their own learning goals

Invigorate community- based learning in libraries and education centers

Create viable alternatives to formal education

Support digital inclusion for people new to online learning

We’ve found that learning circles

version 2.0

come say hi at

Athanasia (Miami), Sharon (Toronto), Alexis (Kansas City), and Kalela (Philadelphia) at P2PU’s 2018 Gathering in Kansas City.

Juliana (Nairobi), Kaltuma (Nairobi), and Purity (Nakuru) at a P2PU 2016 facilitator training workshop in Nakuru, Kenya.

Andrea (Chicago), Purity (Nakuru), Grif (Boston), and Chris (Seattle) running a workshop at the Next Library conference in Aarhus, Denmark in 2017.

Jordan (front-center), and her fiction writing learning circle at Boston Public Library.

Nico (Kingston, Canada) and Kate (Chicago) accepting an award for learning circles from Google Fiber in Dallas in 2017.

James (Chicago), was one of the first learning circle facilitators. Here he is with a library patron who finished a public speaking learning circle in 2015.

Shenita (back-right) was also one of the first learning circle facilitators in Chicago. Cristiane (front-right) was a PhD student at North Carolina State University who wrote her dissertation about P2PU. She participated in 6 learning circles!

Some of the Kenya facilitation crew: Ether, Raymond, Bethsheba, Kaltuma, Yusef, and Mary,

Who were those people I just saw?

Members of our network include:

Intro to P2PU and learning circles - Google Slides