What are user guides for peer-to-peer learning and why do you need them? How to create a well-structured user guide for peers? Dive in to discover the answers.
Did you know that 55 percent of workers are more likely to approach their peers first when they want to master a new skill or get a new knowledge?
Peer-to-peer learning, also known as informal learning, is a valuable part of any employee training plan.
Based on McKinsey’s study, roughly half of organizations use peer-to-peer education to enhance onboarding training, promote a culture of cooperation, and enable continuous transfer of skills in the workplace, among other things.
For achieving the best collaborative learning experience, coworkers leverage user guides for peer-to-peer learning.
What are they and what benefits can they offer? More importantly, how do you make a user guide for training your colleagues effectively?
Let’s address these questions one by one.
What is a user guide for peer-to-peer learning?
A user guide for informal (peer-to-peer) learning is a resource that provides employees with instructional materials prepared by their coworkers.
Team members can develop effective training materials for each other like as follows:
- Cheat sheet.
- Knowledge base (one-stop guide).
- PDF tutorial.
- Step-by-step presentation.
- How-to guide.
- Training manual, and so on.
These can be used during employee-led workshops, action learning sets, peer-mentorships, onboarding buddy programs, etc.
Key advantages of user guides for collaborative learning
Let’s see why user guides are essential for a mutual learning and training strategy in the workplace.
A study reveals that 40 percent of workers who get poor training in their companies leave their positions within the first year.
By offering in-depth user guides to your team members, you can guarantee a quality workplace education and achieve a higher retention rate among employees.
User guides can empower workers to share their expertise and skills with their peers. In turn, this improves morale and nurtures a culture of collaboration and learning.
Higher job satisfaction
By providing clear and simple instructions, colleagues can help each other feel more confident and less confused. Besides, such ongoing learning opportunities in a collaborative team improve the working day, drive better job performance, and boost workplace satisfaction.
User guides may be highly adaptable for various purposes and needs in a peer-to-peer learning environment. For instance, if training is aimed at cross-departmental teams, you can implement the necessary changes to instructions to ensure high transferability of skills across different jobs and departments.
Reduced training costs
It’s an inexpensive way to train employees, especially if you organize the learning process in an entirely digital, self-paced format. User guides created by coworkers can save costs on hiring corporate trainers or coaches.
🎓 Related Resource: How to Build User Guides for Diverse Users
7 Best tips on how to create user guides for peer-to-peer learning
Now to the best practices for developing effective user guides that can bring collaborative workplace training to the higher level. Grab them below.
Identify peer’s pain points and knowledge gaps
An employee’s pain point may refer to any problem experienced by a team member across the touchpoints on the employee journey.
Work-related issues pop up like mushrooms after a spring rain during onboarding in particular, as there may be a huge information overload, anxiety, deficit of tech knowledge, or other roadblocks. That’s why new hires need some peer assistance and guidance to overcome these onboarding challenges.
Supposing you manage projects and team collaboration in Asana, but your new teammates face difficulties getting familiar with this project management tool. You can create short user guides to get your peers jump-started in Asana. For example, you may want to teach them how to add custom task rules in this software.
In addition, you should define your peers’ knowledge gaps – differences between the information your colleagues already know vs what the company needs them to know.
A gap can appear in various types of knowledge in the workplace:
- Product knowledge.
- Task performance.
- Internal communication skills.
- Teamwork and collaboration skills.
- Problem-solving skills.
- Customer management and sales, etc.
Let us imagine there’s a knowledge gap in lead prospecting on LinkedIn. In this case, you should make a user guide on how to do effective prospecting in LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
Stick to the principle of simplicity
Simpler explanations are always better and more effective than complicated ones.
Here’s how you can put this dogma into practice, according to Tom Golubovich, Head of Marketing & Media Relations at Ninja Transfers,
“The principle of simplicity is a must when making user guides for peer-to-peer learning.
You should write in the present tense and active voice whenever possible to provide clear and straightforward guidelines. Monitor the length of your sentences and avoid long paragraphs.
Giving instructions, make step-by-step sequences and visual stepping stones: Step #1, Step #2, Step #3, and so on. Don’t forget about explanations of icons, signs, or codes, if there are any.”
Explaining complex ideas and notions is particularly tough without face-to-face interaction between teammates. Clarity in communicating your intended information can ensure effective knowledge-sharing in remote teams.
Adapt it for diverse users
According to Richard Mace, Chief Executive Officer at Malvern International PLC,
“A well-crafted user guide for peer-to-peer learning must be inclusive, accessible, and valuable for all coworkers, irrespective of their tech proficiency or education level. It means that you should tailor your instructions to different audiences and diversify training materials to adapt them to meet each peer’s needs and preferences.
You may also need to prioritize one of the top three learning styles preferred by your colleagues: textual, audial, and visual.”
Here’s a rough breakdown of these styles:
- Readers – prefer a text-only format (e.g., descriptions and texts)
- Listeners – study more effectively when listening to the material (e.g., audio or voice recordings)
- Watchers – learn better by watching (e.g., how-to video guides)
You may use a standard work template, for instance, but write user guides for diverse users.
Make adjustments and customize them to meet the unique needs of every employee.
Automate user guide creation
The research shows that the average time to develop an instructional material may vary from 18 hours for microlearning tutorials to 155 hours for immersive simulations.
With process documentation tools, you can shorten this time significantly.
Scribe is one of them.
It’s a perfect process documentation tool that turns any process into a visual how-to guide. Here it is in action.
Scribe helps you document your processes 15x faster — making it easier to build job aids, train teammates and answer questions in seconds.
Enrich it with engaging visuals
Visuals such as eye-catching images, videos, or GIFs can break up the text monotony and enhance learning experiences of your peers.
Illustrations speak louder than words due to the so-called picture superiority effect. They are indispensable elements in user guides for peer-to-peer training, because they have maximum descriptive and explanatory potential. On top of that, they leave impressions much faster and more accurately.
Amy De La Fuente, Director of Public Affairs at Bosco Legal Services, shares her employees’ experience of using pictures and screenshots,
“Our knowledgeable staff members prepare legal course materials to educate coworkers on various topics: social media investigations, ethical evidence collection and use, finding assets and people, etc.
Mostly, these are e-presentations and PDF guides that always contain screenshots to illustrate the steps or examples more precisely. Screenshots bring meaning and depth to content. They guarantee that employees get the best possible demonstration of the aspect in question.”
Take advantage of free screenshot software to refine your how-to guide with perfectly cropped screenshots.
You can insert video clips or animations into your user guide for educating your peers. Alternatively, you might want to record training videos in order to instruct your coworkers.
Consider some video tutorial software solutions like Camtasia, WireWax, Hippo Video, Demo Creator, etc.
Why not create interactive GIFs for a more engaging peer-to-peer learning experience?
Here’s a list of top-notch GIF makers:
If you choose Scribe to develop a user guide, you can add GIFs to make your Scribes more fun.
Plus, with Scribe Pages, you can use a mix of visual aids and easily combine your Scribes with images, hyperlinks, videos and other multimedia content.
Give it a thorough review
The process of reviewing a user guide for peers incorporates comprehensive editing and proofreading.
As Catherine Schwartz, Content Creator at LoanFolk, mentions,
“To ensure your instructions for coworkers are error-free and properly sequenced, it’s highly advisable to re-read them several times. Check if all the images are visually appealing and easy on the eyes.
When you have a lot of text, you may benefit with proofreading and editing software like as follows: PerfectIt, QuillBot, LanguageTool, Wordy, Grammarly, WhiteSmoke, or others."
In Scribe, for example, you can return to your Scribes and do quick edits whenever needed: modify the step description, add a missing header, tip, or alert, reorder steps or document more of them, etc.
Let other peers test it
After crafting a user guide, give it to your colleagues for review and collect peer feedback on it.
Here are certain criteria to check when reviewing user guides designed by peers:
- High readability.
- Plain language.
- Logical structure.
- Pleasant design.
- Ability to share and refer to.
When working with Scribe, your documents can be shared in seconds within your team. Besides, you can send the document URL via email or chat, embed your Scribe in another tool, or download it as PDF.
Make user guides for teammates with Scribe!
User guides for informal learning play a significant role in fostering a collaborative environment and continuous upskilling of employees.
Scribe is a user-friendly tool that makes it a breeze to create professional-looking guides quickly and easily. It doesn’t require any specific tech knowledge or skills. Moreover, Scribe’s customizable templates can be tailored to the demands and preferences of different learners.
Make the knowledge-sharing process inside your team painless and efficient with Scribe. Let’s try it now!
Sign up for free and document your how-tos in just a couple of minutes.