Kepler Shares and Learns through Collaboration

| kepler
Copyright Ashesi

By Landry Sugira
Source: Humanitarian Education Accelerator | Orginal Article Link
Published : July 25, 2018

Ashesi Education Collaborative: A Platform for Higher Education Institutions in Africa
I am Landry Sugira, a Remote Learning Coordinator and CfA advisor at Kepler Kiziba. I recently attended the Ashesi Education Collaborative in Ghana.  The aim of the Education Collaborative is to serve as a platform for higher education institutions in Africa to engage and share with each other best practices in teaching, learning, and university management. Ashesi University,a higher education institution in Ghana, started this initiative in 2017. This year, 28 participants from 16 institutions in 7 countries attended the 2018 collaborative from June 25th to June 29th.The collaborative proved  that Mattie Stepanek was right to say that “Unity is strength. When there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved”.

Sharing Kepler’s Model:
Kepler is committed to making indirect impact in education through sharing best practices with other higher education institutions.  At the Ashesi Education Collaborative, Kepler shared its phased model to help participants learn how to support students with different learning needs. At Kepler Kiziba, students encounter different challenges in their learning. The campus is in Kiziba refugee camp, and some of the challenges include students’ illness and maternity leaves. Some of the students are married and/or are employed.  Therefore, we support students to move at their own pace through a self-paced phasing model that includes small group and differentiated instruction.

So far, Kepler has learned that the model is really a success in terms of supporting both struggling students and students who are moving faster. Also, the model makes differentiation easier for course facilitators, and we are able to support many students with a small number of staff. Students who are top performers are given opportunity to apply for work studies, and they can support other students in small group classes. Those students are known as learning coaches. Moreover, the model can allow for multiple intakes per year, and it is easier for students to take a leave of absence(maternity leave, sick leave, etc.). Even though students are supposed to spend most of the time working independently, course facilitators still need to offer in-class sessions,especially about skills that many students are struggling with.

At the collaborative, Kepler received feedback from participants:
Participants  from other institutions encouraged us to explore the effects the model can have, especially on students who take longer than expected to finish their degrees. Moving forward, it is very important for us to find effective ways to assess students learning to ensure that their independent work time is allowing them to learn the skills they will need at a workplace. Through HEA, Kepler Kiziba has been working to improve M & E and assessments. Staff attended different trainings to learn how they can improve data collection as well as improving assessment and data based planning.

Kepler learned a lot from other institutions:
Different institutions did share a variety of best practices in teaching. In Entrepreneurship class at Ashesi, students are given a long assignment of turning community needs into a business project to work on throughout their college studies. When they graduate, some of the students turn their ideas into profitable businesses and ventures. As Kepler prepares to scale, we believe this initiative to be a very important one. In scaling, Kepler will have to improve its operations in a way that what worked with a small number of people can work with a higher demand. Therefore, all students will not expect to get internships and jobs, but they will have to create them instead through becoming future Entrepreneurs. Scaling up could go hand in hand with contributing to the society through enabling students to turn community problems into opportunities and responsibilities.

At the end of the collaborative, participants created a network of faculty from institutions across Africa, and we are committed to continue sharing best practices in teaching and learning at our home institutions, and across national borders.