From January 30-31, 2018, the Direct Academics (DA) team at Kiron had the pleasure of hosting our collaborators from The Open University (OU) for the second time at our office in Berlin, Germany, for a two-day “Writing and Design Workshop”. The workshop launched the pre-production of our online training program for DA volunteer instructors and others interested in developing the skill set necessary for successful and effective online teaching in open and online educational settings for heterogenous student populations.
“Kiron and The Open University are a natural partnership,” stated Kiron’s Co-Head of Direct Academics, Manuela Verduci. “We were so happy to have their 50 years of experience with online learning helping us develop this instructor training program.”
The online training program will be an asynchronous, self-paced online course that is approximately five hours in length. It will include learning materials, resources, and peer-to-peer feedback on the following topics, which we have determined critical for preparing online instructors working with diverse groups of learners: learning online (supporting students), teaching online (facilitation and pedagogy), diversity and intercultural awareness, getting the best out of the technology, and Kiron as a case study. “Particularly tricky but interesting for me is the section on diversity and intercultural awareness,” shared Kiron’s Co-Head of Direct Academics, Sophia Burton, “We want to go beyond teaching about culture to acknowledging that we all hold prejudices and preconceptions and figure out how we can work together to create open and welcoming learning environments.”
Kiron’s 30+ DA volunteer instructors offer synchronous live tutorials to students from a wide range of countries and backgrounds using Google Classroom and Google Hangouts. Learn more about becoming a DA volunteer instructor here.
The development of the instructor training program is part of Kiron’s INTEGRAL+ project sponsored by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), which aims to increase the integration and participation of refugees through personalized and scalable digital learning opportunities. During the workshop, the OU and Kiron teams worked intensively on designing a course outline, learner profile, and unit material to help us move into authoring and production stages.
Present at the workshop were three representatives from the Open University: Rehana Awan, Student Communications and Engagement Manager; Carole Anderson: Faculty Co-ordinator; and Hannah HattSmith: Senior Project Manager. On the Kiron side – in addition to the DA team, Director of Education, and Kiron Instructional Designer – a Kiron transfer student, Moataz Ghannam, and three DA volunteer instructors participated via Google Hangout to ensure a balance of perspectives for the creation of this pivotal course.
– Sophia Burton