Kiron and the H&M Foundation have successfully concluded their three-year-long collaborative project BLESS, having reached the goal of “building a learning environment for study success.” Today, we would like to recap the main achievements of the collaboration and reflect on how this project has inspired and also contributed to Kiron’s Collective Impact Campus — an initiative to support other NGOs globally in moving their learning offers into the online space.
Overall, the BLESS project improved the learning and study environment of Kiron, both online and offline, while providing efficient transfer support to students who wanted to attend university. The project supported Kiron’s scaling processes through translations of the Kiron Campus into multiple languages, which subsequently lowered the entry barriers for successful online learning. One main aspect of BLESS was the focused support for female students through an organised week for women and two offline classes specifically for women which we will continue to host after the end of the project.
Since the beginning of the project in 2017, Kiron has researched students’ needs, created five open educational resources, improved its online student community and hosted thirteen offline student events. As mentioned above, Kiron Campus has been translated into four additional languages: English, Arabic, Turkish, Spanish and German. To date, 6,885 students have chosen to switch their language to one of the new options. Language learning overall has been a central theme of this project. A language MOOC (LMOOC) “How to learn a language” was produced, which focuses on improving student’s German language skills to B1 level. Additionally, twenty-five formal language exams taken by Kiron students have been financed. The needs of female learners on Kiron Campus were identified and catered to as much as possible, especially by way of the 2019 women’s week and numerous events organized for female learners ever since. Most of the BLESS communication activities focused on female role models to inspire learners within and beyond the scope of the project to pursue their educational and professional goals.
For the last five years, Kiron has offered access to learning opportunities via its inclusive online learning platform Kiron Campus which provides free online courses, including Coursera courses and certificates, optimised for low connectivity and a range of community support features and pathways into higher education and employment to more than 12,000 refugee and displaced learners worldwide. When the project team needed to develop effective responses to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, they quickly realized that like-minded organisations were facing similar barriers. With five years experience in online learning design combined with the findings of the BLESS project especially in the field of language learning and female student support, Kiron has established itself as one of the central players in the fields of education for underserved communities. It was after noticing other organizations struggle during the pandemic that we at Kiron decided to open our Kiron Campus learning platform to enable others to make the transition to online or blended learning formats in times of lockdown restrictions and beyond.
The achievements of the BLESS project have improved the accessibility of Kiron’s learning platform, contributing immensely to an inclusive learning environment that is also beneficial for other NGOs. Refugee-focused organisations can now harness digital technologies and host their own learning programs, and thus continue to reach their learners. Kiron’s Collective Impact Campus initiative has a vision of becoming not only a digital home for online learning programs across the world but also allowing for a collective pooling of resources, content and learners. NGOs working with displaced and underserved learners can join Kiron’s Collective Impact Campus and begin digitalizing their educational programs. The overarching goal is that Kiron and fellow non-profit partners can complement each other’s work and achieve greater impact together.