By Sam Otieno
Working three East African countries RELI Africa’s Values and Life Skills (VaLi) thematic group had the great fortune of having gotten used to virtual collaboration long before COVID-19. How did we do it? Webinars.
The RELI’s regional VaLi Cluster are working on East Africa’s first locally designed life skills and values assessment. This collaborative initiative is dubbed ALIVE (Assessment of Life Skills and Values in East Africa). In preparation for this ground-breaking work, we in VaLi Kenya set for ourselves an ambitious learning agenda around strengthening our knowledge and understanding of emerging evidence in Life Skills Education.
However, collaboration in networks is a delicate balancing act. It requires working around multiple organisational and individual priorities and schedules. So how did we choose to go about it? Webinars. We scheduled virtual a learning session for every last Thursday of the month.
In advance of these webinars members identify and share a wide range of learning resources: new research reports, a policy brief, case studies, speech or peer-reviewed journal articles. The articles are then sent to the thematic group lead who puts them into a learning timetable. The timetable and the resources are shared with members. By the time of the webinars, all members should have individually engaged with the learning resources. We are also encouraged to have mini-learning sessions within our organizations for reflection and deepening knowledge. Members then use the insights from this preparation to the webinar discussions.
There are three different key roles for the webinar: the chair, the presenter and the rapporteur. The chair runs the session by enforcing agreed upon attendee rules, managing time and ensures the meeting stays on purpose. The presenter steers the learning session by first presenting a summary of the resource highlighting their key learnings and pointing out knowledge gaps then engaging member feedback both the resource and their presentation. The rapporteur produces a reflective report on the session which is shared with members and informs the next webinar.
So far the webinars have comprehensively reviewed the Oxford Cambridge and RSA (OCR) Examinations course material for training students aged 11 to 18 years on thinking and reasoning skills and the “Tools for Selecting & Aligning International Frameworks for Social, Emotional, and Related Skills” brief by Echidna Giving, a private foundation with the mission of advancing girls’ education.
The webinars are ongoing and will post COVID-19 be supplemented with field visits. We will also be sharing our findings, the webinar recordings and the final assessment tool on the RELI website. All in a bid to live out RELI’s objective of contributing East African best practice to the global discourse on education.