While taking online courses (MOOCs) at Kiron, students have the freedom to set their own study schedule. Students select courses on the Kiron Campus study platform, where they are grouped into modules to make up the core curriculum. However, MOOCs usually do not include live sessions, and students do not get any direct contact with the professor or their peers.
Kiron Direct Academics, a program first tested in December 2015, launched synchronous and interactive study formats to supplement the mostly asynchronous MOOCs and as an additional online learning measure. These formats were developed because MOOCs in their original form are not capable of meeting all the needs of Kiron’s target groups; it is not enough simply to cluster MOOCs in coherent curricula, they also need to be complemented with more personalized teaching and learning scenarios. Consequently, through the Direct Academics program, volunteer lecturers from universities and academic institutions support Kiron students through synchronous live tutorials (which currently take place in Google Classroom and Google Hangouts). These are gradually integrated into the curricula and are in line with the predefined learning outcomes of the Kiron modules and the MOOCs within these modules.
The Direct Academics program also provides a framework for module-based assessments on the Kiron platform through scalable solutions that encourage learners to self-reflect on their academic progress (e.g. digital learning portfolios). Furthermore, pre-study tutorials have been launched that concentrate on the basic skills required to study successfully with Kiron, such as digital literacy, scientific writing and intercultural learning. Kiron will continue to develop Direct Academics significantly in 2017, with the aim of making it available for all Kiron core modules in the future.