METHOD: Participatory Advocacy
ADVOCATING FOR PORTABILITY OF PREVIOUS LEARNING
To rebound from COVID-19 and guard against the deepening inequities by race and income that many experts are forecasting, the country will need to quickly and affordably get students and workers back into jobs and education. To do so, a key strategy for policymakers will be empowering today’s learners and workers as quickly and efficiently as possible with the credentials they are due. Under the current system, however, students and workers all too often do not get credit for their learning experiences, which stymies the economy, frustrates employers that are searching for workers with postsecondary credentials and undercuts the values of opportunity and upward mobility that undergird our nation’s democracy.
In partnership with HCM Strategists, Kinetic Seeds has launched a national conversation series called Project APPLY (Advocating for Portability of Previous Learning). Over the next few months, we will elevate a much-needed discussion about how students learn today and explore how and why portability of learning and applicability of credit are strong levers for increasing equity, building affordable pathways, and meeting workforce needs. To learn more and join the conversation, visit Project APPLY.
Method: Participatory Design
THE OVERALL IDEA
Can a group of diverse and influential stakeholders come together and be “all in” on a model to assure quality and equity of any and all postsecondary credentials? Can this model demonstrate what quality credentials look like, what it takes to produce one, and how it accounts for serving all kinds of students across their entire learning lifespan? In this participatory design initiative, Kinetic Seeds was selected to support Lumina Foundation and its Quality Credentials Task Force comprising 22 leaders in education, policy and workforce development to shape a new conceptual model and set of indicators of quality relevant to meeting the needs of today’s students and today’s complex credentialing environment.
Through an iterative and generative year-long participatory design process, Kinetic Seeds guided task force members to (1) explore new ways to assure the quality of a college education and other forms of learning beyond high school and (2) develop a broad, conceptual model of credential quality that could lead to the greater equity and quality learning that our society and students deserve. The resulting reform umbrella was unveiled in September 2019 to spur both institution-based curricular changes and systems reform from federal and state policymakers, accreditors, and associations and enlist their active cooperation and collaboration to building an updated, integrated system of quality assurance that can provide educational opportunities to more individuals and advance racially and economically just outcomes for all.
Learn more and download the full report Unlocking the Nation’s Potential here.
Method: Human-Centered Research
As a component of the College Board’s The Educational Crisis Facing Young Men of Color Initiative, the experiences of 92 African American, Asian American/ Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino and Native American students from 39 institutions across the country were explored to learn how they get ready, get in and get through college.
It’s a critical time to understand what factors affect these young men, a group who struggles more than any other in the nation to persist and achieve successful college outcomes. To understand and address the factors behind this completion gap, young men were engaged directly to understand how they view their experiences and to add their voice to the discussion of how to better meet their needs.
Download the report [pdf]
Kinetic Seeds teamed up with Strada Education Network and best-selling author Jeff Selingo on a four-city tour gathered local, state, and regional education leaders, key business executives, and top policymakers to consider and design new pathways for a 21st Century education system and workforce. Why? American higher education is really at a critical juncture – existing in an environment where the conditions on the ground are quite different from even a few years ago. New pathways must be opened up that allow for more students to succeed – pathways that both increase the percentage of students who finish what they start in college or other postsecondary programs, and ensure a smoother transition from education to genuine employment.
Insights and opportunities from all four locations (Denver, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Indianapolis) can be found here.
Realizing that its students are best served when they become the hub of multiple existing campus services, Kinetic Seeds facilitated an effort to re-organize Berklee’s enrollment, student affairs and advising, and career services infrastructures into one holistic student-centered support structure using design-thinking methodology. The resulting engagement framework serves as a holistic guidepost for Berklee to connect the dots across the entire organization, align its service offerings and develop new student lifecycle opportunities.
Like all great journeys, the quest to create a tool to help Berklee become a game-changing, student-centered organization began with a question: How might we define a shared philosophy and approach to engagement that considers the lived student development experience and helps us craft better ways of working together?
We began with the idea that to design exceptional student experiences, everyone in the organization must work in concert. To do this, we needed a shared sense of purpose and a shared approach to student engagement. Enter the student engagement framework. Based on real-world insights about the lived experiences of students and staff, the framework represents a student-centered mindset that’s intuitive and relevant to the work at hand.
Unifying the way the organization thinks about and collectively approaches student engagement, it provides everyone with a common language. In its entirety, a well-designed framework is a grounding tool that assesses how intentional staff members are in the design of student-centered policies, practices, and programs, to identify disconnects between functions and processes, and to develop the capacity for systemic innovation.
For more information or to learn how Kinetic Seeds can support your institution, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kinetic Seeds teamed up with Lumina Foundation and KnowledgeWorks to conceptualize what it means to create a seamless competency-based education (CBE) system. CBE is an emerging academic delivery model demonstrating promising student outcomes across the country. It is also a relatively new funding arena for states and foundations with investments being made in a variety of K-12 and higher ed environments. As with traditional education, today’s CBE models are following a similar trajectory of bifurcation between secondary and post-secondary systems with models, tools, resources, and policies being developed in both arenas. Might there be a way to bring it all together and align K-16 CBE policies and models from the start? That’s the idea behind this project that brought a group of foundations that fund CBE together to deepen the understanding of what philanthropies are doing to advance CBE; explore the need for an aligned K12/higher-ed CBE system and identify areas of future investment and collaboration.
Method: Participatory Design
What if we put students in the driver’s seat of a new kind of R&D to transform higher education? One that provided a platform for engaging students more fully in a real world effort that also involved faculty, administrators, support services and more? Could we improve a student’s education experience? Could we take it a step further and transform higher education itself?
This initiative facilitated a student-led research and development activity on the campus of Utah State University. The participatory process allowed students themselves to boldly create the experience that is right for them. Outcomes, which were published in the New England Journal of Higher Education, included the re-invention of the university’s student service delivery model and the scale of the new model across the university system.
Over a period of 18 months, Kinetic Seeds and partner HCM Strategists, with funding support from the Lumina Foundation, engaged in an experimental initiative designed to bring a group of traditionally siloed state policymakers, system players, institutional leaders, researchers and practitioners together to explore how well-designed public higher education finance models might be constructed to help public colleges and universities focus on student completion. This multidisciplinary cohort was asked to harness evidence-based funding trends and determine how the momentum behind these trends should influence thinking about next-generation funding models.
The resulting effort would then lead to a set of guiding design principles that consider the role of funding design in:
What if states’ attainment goals were the focal point of public higher education funding? What if closing equity gaps and developing necessary learning innovations to get us there were a priority? What principles would guide these priorities?
Public money should be targeted where it’s most needed– ensuring more racial and ethnic minorities, students from low-income families, and first-generation students earn degrees, certificates and other credentials to close existing attainment gaps.
Public money should be allocated to colleges, universities, and other postsecondary providers in ways that signal the need for steady increases in the overall share of residents who have credentials, with particular attention to ensuring societal, workforce, and individual needs are met
Financial incentives should be sufficient to motivate colleges, universities, and other providers to offer flexible, easy-to-navigate academic programs, clear transfer points that enable steady progress toward completion of credentials, and sufficient supports to keep at-risk students on track.
Thoughtfully designed outcomes-based funding should be sustained as the state’s core source of operating support for postsecondary education, regardless of economic conditions, to achieve fairer educational results across racial and ethnic groups necessary to improving postsecondary attainment.
Outcomes-based funding should be accompanied by state financial aid and tuition policies that reinforce the need to accelerate student completion of credentials.
Kinetic Seeds was selected as a winner of the Lumina Foundation/Innocentive Innovation Challenge for scaling and sustaining adult learning. Our solution shifts the center of adult learner gravity away from a set of traditional and grossly disconnected student service offerings and employer workforce development programs toward a concept of integrated “life and learning aid.” An intentional service experience designed exclusively for adult learners. Read our winning submission
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