This paper reports on an online version of Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS), also known as Supplemental Instruction (SI), which was trialled in two subjects in the University of Melbourne in 2011. The program, named the Online Peer Assisted Learning (OPAL) scheme, was implemented with the aims of extending the benefits of a successful peer learning program to students other than those who attend face-to-face sessions and contributing to scholarship on the viability of online peer learning with reference to student interest, leader and participant perspectives, and the suitability of synchronous communication platforms. Qualitative research led to mixed findings. Although OPAL was considered to be a viable online peer learning program by leaders and participants, multiple challenges were encountered. With reference to literature on related initiatives and the use of synchronous online learning platforms in higher education, this paper provides an account of the establishment and progress of the initiative, before presenting an analysis of its strengths and weaknesses and a series of recommendations for researchers and practitioners who are interested in online adaptations of face-to-face peer learning programs.
Recommended CitationBeaumont, Tim J.; Mannion, Aaron P.; and Shen, Brice O., From the Campus to the Cloud: The Online Peer Assisted Learning Scheme, Journal of Peer Learning, 5, 2012, 1-15.