Students often struggle with structuring their arguments, feel isolation when learning and find listening in lectures a challenging way to absorb knowledge. Ketso Connect can help here. It ticks a lot of boxes as a highly desirable inclusion in a welcome pack for cohorts of incoming university students. It is a life-long learning aid, an organiser and planner, and it helps develop structured and critical thinking in contexts as diverse as self-directed study, remote seminars, and active learning during lectures. It makes those first steps on the learning journey at university more rewarding, steering students toward techniques that can help shape their academic life.
We are seeing a powerful case for Ketso Connects to be a central part of a welcome pack for incoming students. The multi-sensory Ketso kit encourages independent, critical and structured thinking, skills that students require to thrive at university. It supports students in developing ideas for their assignments, and for structuring essays, reports and dissertations.
Its compact size makes it easy to use at home, take to lectures, and use in short sessions with tutors. The kit is durable, reusable, and will be useful for a student’s entire time at university and beyond.
Already used in over half of the UK’s universities, Ketso won an international award for innovation in teaching (Tippett, Connelly and How 2011). Driven by the changing requirements of the pandemic, we have taken principles derived from 25 years of experience (Tippett and How, 2020) and developed Ketso Connect for students and tutors to use during the adapted learning environments of the times.
“We have been so impressed with how Ketso Connect has increased engagement that we have committed to buying Ketso Connects for our entire cohort of students for 2021-2022. We are looking forward to seeing what emerges when over 1300 students and staff are using Ketso Connect in their studies and work.” Dr Susan O’Shea, Senior Lecturer in Sociology (FHEA) Manchester Metropolitan University
Over 1000 students in 25 countries are already benefiting from Ketso Connect, and feedback has been excellent. We have been especially pleased to hear how much students value the kit for supporting their self-directed study. This highlights two big plusses of including Ketso Connect in welcome packs: the kit empowers students to take control of their own learning, and helps them engage fully in study, at any stage of their learning journey.
“I was passing by it all the time, so every day, I was coming up with some new ideas… after a week I had much more ideas than just when I would sit down and try to come up with some.”
As a tactile, visual learning aid, Ketso Connect adds a new dimension to live teaching. Whether in remote, hybrid or face-to-face lectures, short bursts of active engagement with a physical learning aid is compelling, drawing the teaching back into the student’s personal space.
“This would be useful if you’re in a normal lecture because sitting for fifty minutes looking at someone talking about something is quite difficult if there’s no interaction or activity.”
By using Ketso Connect, students could expect and look forward to more interaction and engagement than in a traditional lecture. It is particularly helpful for international students who may struggle initially with language barriers, students who experience learning differently, and those who are a little socially anxious. Being given the space for quiet reflective time to develop their thinking on a Ketso felt before sharing in groups, is proving to be game changing for those who might not normally contribute.
“Just being able to physically do something rather than typing on your laptop or listening to someone is beneficial for learning.”
It is not just the students that Ketso Connect supports, it is the tutors too. We continue to add to the open-source library of resources on our website, supporting staff in delivering engaging learning. We are adding pre-recorded video resources that can be shown in lectures or signposted to students.
We have developed ways Ketso Connect can be used alongside the digital canvas software, Padlet, making everyone’s contribution visible to each other and to academic staff. This offers transparency around ideas and thought processes, and has the added value of reducing tensions around unequal contributions to group projects. Tutors as well as group members can easily see if everyone is engaging in the work.
Good value for whole cohorts of students
An important consideration is that the kit is not a great burden on budgets. For less than the price of a day field trip per head, all of your students can be offered a tangible gift that supports their learning journey throughout their studies. It is compact enough to be posted to students studying remotely, and there are bulk discounts available for larger groups. You can even have Ketso Connect branded with your university logo, to cement that invaluable sense of community and pride in your institution. This can help create a sense of belonging from the outset.
The pandemic has disrupted the normal university experience, especially for new students. There has been a huge toll on student life, community life and also for staff struggling to create an environment conducive to learning. Whatever the future holds, it is true that welcome packs provide one way to enhance the community feeling so vital to university life. Including a Ketso Connect in each welcome pack is a sure way to offer something original that works, a gift for life-long learning that bolsters their academic journey. It will help shift social anxieties and a feeling of being stuck, to more positive feelings of belonging to a learning community with tangible support for personalised learning.