Learning from Partners in the Field

| kepler

Source: Humanitarian Education Accelerator | Original Article Link
Published : September 6, 2018

With the focus of scaling in mind, Kepler sent a team of 8 staff members to Kakuma Refugee Camp to learn, collaborate, and share with the Jesuit Worldwide Learning (JWL) team.  Both organizations serve as implementing partners for Southern New Hampshire University’s ‘Global Education Movement’ (GEM), who also sent a team of 3 staff. Throughout the week the combined teams engaged in a variety of learning activities to better understand students, context and program.  Working in collaborative, cross-organizational teams, solutions based on shared resources were created to support scale and program improvements for both organizations.

To better understand students, their learning and their lives, team members engaged in a number of activities including:

  • Shadowing students through a typical day.
  • Engaging in student focus groups.
  • 1:1 conversations with students.
  • Supporting SNHU GEM’s orientation.

Collaborative Learning Teams
To share best practices, identify common problems and draft solutions, cross-organizational teams were created and worked together throughout the week in the following teams:

  • Operations: Creating a launch checklist
  • Learning Outcomes: Mapping modes of learning to delivery variables.
  • Coaching: Creating standardized coaching models.

Context & Partnerships
To better understand the context of learning within Kakuma, the Kepler team engaged in a number of partner visits.  This included a visit to a fellow HEA cohort member, Windle Trust International, where the Kepler team observed remedial classes for struggling female secondary school students.  There was also an opportunity to visit Inzone, University de Geneve, that pioneers innovative approaches to multilingual communication and higher education in communities affected by conflict and crisis.  One of the current SNHU/JWL students is able to use the Inzone learning space to work on his degree.  Sereverien, a Kepler staff member, reflected, “His (the student’s) place is miles away from Arrupe Learning Center (JWL’s learning site), but he has benefited from the partnership between the two organizations. What this means in terms of scaling is that partnership with other organizations is a key to success when starting a new program in a new place.”

Questions Related to Scale
At the beginning of the trip, the team compiled questions and wonderings related to scale:

  • How could a lower-resource, lighter touch model be advantageous for scaling?
  • How can we find the balance between student support and student independence?
  • How can our learning from launching and operating in Kiziba make implementation easier in a less resource-restricted environment?
  • How does the age and learning experience of students contribute to program design?
  • How can admissions scale with or without programs like the Kepler Prep Program?
  • How do you identify the most important elements for student outcomes from a complex program?

Staff Reflections
The Kepler staff was asked to write daily reflections on their experiences and learning in Kakuma.  It is clear that the exchange was incredibly meaningful in pushing the team to think about scale through new lenses.

Kakuma learning exchange was an opportunity for me and everyone else on the Kepler team to think about what we can learn and share as we prepare to scale. Personally, I was thinking about scaling from a coaching perspective. Kepler students have been receiving support through weekly meetings and office hours, but it might be difficult to do this with a 1000 or 3000 students. The big question for me was “how can we create a coaching model that can be used to effectively support a large number of students without necessarily having many coaches”? As we figure out what things to cut or keep in terms of support provided to students, how do we assess the impact it will have before we cut anything? How do we do that and keep the quality of education? (Landry, Remote Learning Coordinator & CfA Advisor)

I learned that most of (the JWL) students are employed or have different responsibilities which might limit them to meeting academic expectations. That point took me back to Kiziba thinking about how we support students through differentiating according to their availability, check out Eksperten Denmark to learn more about financing. I had a hint of how Kakuma site coaches may use differentiation strategies to reach out to students who need more support in the learning journey.  (Narcisse, Kiziba Course Facilitator)

Having spent more than nine years in the education field does not limit my ability and will to learn new things from different education contexts and environments. (Jeanne, Kigali Lead Course Facilitator)