It has become incredibly challenging, frustrating and disappointing for university students now looking at the realities of little to no face-to-face interaction and a deepening sense of disconnection for semester two. Students need a new, fresh approach and to know they are fully supported in these excruciating times. Ketso Connect can form part of the response by educators, to show visible support for the next phase of learning in the middle of this pandemic. This new way of working is with individual packs, which each student uses in their own learning space, be it at home or in a lecture hall. This hands-on learning aid can be used in coordinated activities such as live online learning, short interactive exercises in lectures or self-directed study.
In February, university students will begin their second semester. It presents a fairly bleak prospect for some, replacing an earlier anticipation that things may have been more normalised for this next phase of the academic year. Clearly, with the Covid-19 infection spreading at unprecedented rates in the beginnings of 2021, that February return to learning is going to be more of the same in respect to staying isolated and remote from tutors, peers and the university community.
Supporting university students on their return
Now is a time to consider doing everything possible to support those students, in this situation that impacts so profoundly on their experience, learning and well-being.
Ketso embeds University of Manchester research findings into a physical kit for face-to-face workshops and learning. This hands-on kit, launched in 2009, is used in 83 countries (with 72 peer-reviewed outputs and an international teaching excellence award – Tippett, Connelly and How, 2011). The international reach and value derived from Ketso means it is now being submitted for a second Research Excellence Framework impact case study.
At the start of the pandemic, we went back to the research we built Ketso on (Tippett, Handley, and Ravetz, 2007; Tippett and How, 2020) and developed Ketso Connect. We knew that over half the universities in the UK were already using Ketso and could benefit from a way to use it remotely.
Ketso Connect is an individual pack, which each participant uses in their own space during live and asynchronous learning, with pictures of their work shared online. This reusable, sustainable kit has been provided to 954 students, 142 workshop participants and 241 practitioners/academics in 25 countries. Anyone following our story will know that the feedback from students and university tutors using it with student cohorts shows this pandemic-inspired innovation has real value.
As a tactile and visual learning aid, Ketso Connect helps students focus, structure their thinking, and contribute in online group situations, which can often feel a little distant and less engaging than face-to-face teaching. Ketso Connect has demonstrated its ability to build bridges between remote learners. The characteristics that make Ketso a successful platform for group-work have also proven to bring powerful benefits to individual learning.
“I like how the kit lets me put my ideas down on something physical, as I usually just type on my laptop. Allowing visual organisation and categorisation as I move them around on the felt also helps with the development of ideas and the creation of new ones.” Student feedback
We are keen to ensure we do everything possible to make Ketso Connect accessible for students returning in February, and to get the clear message out to universities that our kit can boost engagement, and make remote learning and essay writing a more positive and productive experience.
Consider Ketso Connect for semester two
There are many reasons to supply cohorts of students with their own Ketso Connects. Here are a few:
- Improves experience of online and remote learning at home
- Breaks up excessive screen-time, facilitates time to reflect, plan and think
- Compact, reusable, and washable
- Supports different learning styles
- Visual, intuitive method proven to be especially helpful for international students
- Good for self-directed study and online teaching
- Practical tool to help with dissertations and projects
- Demonstrates workings and thought process, supporting the sharing of ideas and effective group work
- A versatile learning tool for the present circumstances, which will continue to add value in the future
- Has free downloadable resources and support by Ketso
- Easy to integrate into sessions, it supports tutors by giving new ways to engage students online
- Learners can share ideas digitally in real time, for instance using Padlet
- Can be dispatched quickly and posted to each student, wherever they are
“It allows my fellow classmates and I to brainstorm ideas together, which strengthens the sense of teamwork. It also makes me feel more confident to speak up and share my ideas.”
In a virtual environment, where ‘tangible support’ seems something of an alien concept, Ketso Connect helps students grow their ideas, whether together or apart. Several universities are already taking this up with positive outcomes, and with the second semester approaching we urge both lecturers and students to take a good look at the feedback we have had with Ketso Connect and the different ways it can help students achieve.
With a low price per unit, orders are scalable for multiple users and student cohorts:
Team: 1 to 10 kits: £29 per kit
Cohort: 11 to 300 kits: £27 per kit
Transformational: 300 & above: £24 per kit
Tippett, J., Connelly, A, and How, F. (2011). “You Want Me to Do What? Teach a Studio Class to Seventy Students?” Journal for Education in the Built Environment 6 (2): 26–53.
Tippett, J., Handley, J. F., Ravetz, J. (2007) “Meeting the challenges of sustainable development—A conceptual appraisal of a new methodology for participatory ecological planning”, Progress in Planning, Volume 67, Issue 1, Pages 9-98.
Tippett, J. and How, F. (2020), Town Planning Review, Where to lean the ladder of participation: a normative heuristic for effective coproduction processes, 91, (2), 109–132. https://doi.org/10.3828/tpr.2020.7