Exploring possibilities with online learning

Christoph Buerglen
2019 05 27

As part of the H&M Foundation’s continued commitment to education, it partnered with Kiron Open Higher Education to support Kiron students throughout their studies. One of the main tenets of Kiron’s learning approach is the provision of MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses), which allows students to study at their own pace online. While this flexibility is key for many of our students, digital learning can also be an isolating experience. That is why we identified a strong learning community as one key factor in our students’ success. “Building a Learning Environment for Study Success” (BLESS), Kiron’s three-year project with the H&M Foundation, allows us to create an innovative and supportive learning environment for refugees to achieve study success and build community.

In the past years, Kiron’s Direct Academics Team (DA) conducted several offline student weekends to find even more new, innovative ways to enable academic and cultural discussions. Online and Offline DA tutorials are organized for specific modules where students reported difficulties with their learning process. Online tutorials consist of small-group learning formats and courses that mirror more traditional classroom settings. Tutorials and courses typically run for 8-10 weeks and serve 10-15 students using online conference technology such as Google Hangouts and Google Classroom. Tutorials and courses complement the curriculum and support students in the successful completion of their studies by providing a space to work through content and interact with instructors and fellow students. Our offline DA classes take place during study weekends and allow us to give students space where they can interact face-to-face. Within the BLESS project, we offered twelve offline DA classes over the course of three years, where students can meet each other in person. As of May 2019, we have been able to offer 8 classes during our study weekends, with two classes specifically for female learners. BLESS DA-classes covered such diverse topics as university exam preparation in Business and Economics, courses in computer science or CV writing. During the BLESS women’s week in April 2018, a female computer scientist spoke about her experience as a woman working in a traditionally male-dominated sector in a DA tutorial.

Offline activities provide opportunities for students to get to know one another, as well as, Kiron employees, with whom they are usually only in virtual contact. We are grateful to the H&M Foundation for providing us and our students with these opportunities.

– in cooperation with the H&M foundation.