Connected Learning PedagogiesMeeting the Challenges of Students at the Margins – a Mobile and Online/Offline SolutionKakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya
Jesuit Worldwide Learning (JWL)Author: Alessandra Carminati
In 2018 and in collaboration with Seitwerk GmbH, JWL developed its own SIS/LMS – now known as JWL HeLP (Humanitarian e-Learning Platform) – to mitigate challenges faced by our students. This online/offline solution was developed over a period of 12 months and includes an application which works on multiple Android and Windows devices. It was first piloted in Fall 2018, for the Youth Sports Facilitator (YSF) professional certificate course (in Kakuma Refugee Camp and Dzaleka Refugee Camp).
The realities faced by our students often mean they have little or no internet connectivity, affecting their ability to access relevant educational material, hand in assignments, and interact with faculty and peers in the global, virtual classroom. In some contexts, they also need to cover long distances to reach the community learning centre, raising practical and safety concerns, especially for female students.
JWL HeLP was developed in order to contribute to ensuring a safer, more flexible and equitable learning experience for all students. Content can be downloaded or uploaded via the computer in the corner. Providing students with tablets or other mobile devices allows them to study anytime, anywhere, with a range of resources at their fingertips. When online, they are able to interact with peers both locally and from around the world, leading to further understanding and open-mindedness about different cultures and traditions, enriching their discussions, and overcoming borders.
Students find (and onsite staff have observed) that JWL HeLP enables them to successfully navigate through the programme. They enjoy access to a range of learning materials and are able to complete (without necessarily having to travel to the learning centres to do so) and submit their assignments in a timely manner.
The opportunity for global learning through interaction with peers from other sites has also been noted as contributing to a positive experience.
These features have made JWL HeLP effective even in the face of certain meteorological events which would normally impact access to facilities (i.e. flooding).
Students are rather availed of tools that result in enhanced and diverse learning opportunities adapted to their needs, with minimised disruption.
During the process, connectivity proved to be an even greater challenge than expected. To address this, we developed the computer in the corner, which works even with intermittent internet connection.
This demonstrates responsible integration of technology and pedagogy; creation of learning materials adapted to technological constraints; and an adaptive response/solution to identified technological and logistical constraints.