The KED Program™


Imagine the typical school from 10, 50 or even 100 years ago: a building divided into classrooms, all connected with dead space of corridors and hallways. The teaching staff allocated to classrooms. One teacher isolated in each room, struggling to find a level of teaching that is neither too high nor too low and at the same time trying to find some time for personalized tutoring for those who need it most. Students divided into groups of some 20-30, each group constituting a class unit separated from the others.

Traditionally, the equation of education starts with the building and ends with the student. That “tradition” can be turned on its head: start with the student, not some statistical average of a student, but the individual student with all of her individual ambitions and needs, set the goals and decide on the optimal strategies to reach them, dedicate a teacher to her as a personal learning coach, supporting the student in every step to reach her goals, develop the material, the infrastructure and the processes supporting the learning, design the facilities, not only for standardized teaching but for personalized learning, leverage on all the opportunities for personalized support, real time feedback and access to best practices provided by modern technology.

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The KED program is a concept for personalized education. This means that students, with the guidance of their coach, set and work towards their own personal goals, with the ambition of achieving high final results. Students allocate their study time based on their previous educational experience as well as their individual strengths and weaknesses.

Personalized education should not be confused with students being left on their own without guidance or teaching. This is not about cutting down teacher resources, it is about maximizing teachers time spent on their most important task –  teaching and coaching. Another key element is the strict and comprehensive system for assessment, follow-up and feedback. In addition to ordinary teaching sessions, all students receive support and direction from a personal tutor/coach every week. During these individual sessions the objective is to increase the students´ desire and ambition to learn more than they thought was possible.
 
Modern societies are characterized by globalization, a high pace of change in economy, working life, culture, science, and technology and thus require an increasing need for learning and education. Academic skills, individual knowledge, flexibility and the ability to take personal responsibility are becoming more important and complex. At the same time, interpersonal skills and the ability to collaborate are more important than ever.
 
An unpredictable future calls for a competence comprised of different skills, abilities and insights as well as factual knowledge. The link between strong academic knowledge, the ability to see context and the flexibility to adapt to different situations are all essential.

Personal development – the process through which an individual´s potential manifests itself – is a significant part of their competence. This lays the foundation for the student to develop into an intellectually empowered and responsible individual who also understands the importance of human interaction and interdependence.

The foundation for continuous personal development is built by:

  • personal coaching that helps strengthen the student´s endurance, self-confidence and purposefulness.
  • having students learn to take responsibility and influence their personal learning process.
  • basing learning on the students´ individual attributes
  • collaborating so that students learn to participate in group processes.
  • conducting ethical discussions on an ongoing basis from a common set of values (e.g., in thematic courses or daily current events discussions).
  • exposing the students to situations and problems that challenge and foster inquiry as well as stimulate critical, creative, and flexible thinking.
  • giving students a variety of assignments in which they learn to formulate questions and develop problem-solving tools.

The KED program puts the individual student at the center. The teacher is the student’s personal coach, guiding each student in the learning process and in the effort to reach their goals. Resources in the form of time, facilities, curriculum and learning material – are organized to support that process.
Upon entering a KED school the first meeting is a discussion with the student and her family. Together they identify the student’s long-term educational goals. What does he/she want to achieve in school? What does he/she need to learn? What will it take – from her, her family and the school – to succeed? The long-term goal is then decided and documented in writing.

Strategies for learning

The student is then assessed to determine what level each student will start on and accordingly what strategies they will need to reach their long-term goals. The strategies are not only a list of hours that need to be spent or pages that has to be read. It is also a choice of lectures, lessons, assignments and every thing else that can support the learning. This provides everyone with a working plan, which will be divided into medium-term goals for the semester and short-term goals for the week to come. Each step is followed up in the student’s weekly coaching sessions with the personal learning coach. In progress reviews and development discussions – whenever needed or at least every six months- progress is tracked and the goals and their strategies are reviewed. Is she making progress according to the plan? Does the strategy need to change, the efforts, or should the goals be revised?
Every goal should be both challenging and reachable. Every strategy should provide a reasonable roadmap for the learning journey. The beginning is a process of setting goals, choosing strategies and assessing improvements often strongly geared and guided by the teacher. But step-by-step, our students learn their capabilities and how to stretch them. Setting goals, choosing strategies, doing the job, assessing the result and drawing the conclusions for next step all becomes part of the learning, just as natural as all the facts and knowledge achieved.

Creating meaning

Unlike conventional schools, outcomes—grades, exams and achievements—are not only an account in retrospective. It is something the student can identify and influence along the way. Neither are outcomes a surprise for the family, since every step is assessed and documented. Through the Educational Documentation System (EDS) on the Learning Portal, families — as well as the student and the teacher – get a real time insight into how learning is progressing.
Setting up individual goals and strategies to reach them creates meaning and motivation in school. It is much more interesting going somewhere if you know were you are going, how and why you will get there. Being able to see the result and your own progress step by step, is satisfying and provides motivation for learning more. The ability to set up goals and strategies, to break them down into smaller steps and to experience that sometimes strategies need to be revised, is knowledge that has a life-long value. Not to mention the feeling you have, when you reach and surpass your goals and see the new horizon and opportunities ahead!

The personal coaching method is based on thinking from several areas, such as motivational- and developmental psychology, but also from pedagogy and cognitive psychology. The theory of multiple intelligences has inspired our way of working to help students develop personalized learning strategies.
Personal coaching contributes to the student´s personal development as the student´s learning is structured, supported, assessed, and followed up. Through personal coaching, students learn to set clear and realistic, but still challenging, goals for their studies and to work in a goal-driven manner.

The student´s personal coach plays a decisive role in making the studies successful. The personal coach instructs the student in a structured manner that is not based on subject matter. This means that students receive help with defining goals, finding the strategies to reach them, planning and following up their goals and strategies and reflecting on their own learning process.

Personal coaching is not limited to scheduled talks to discuss the student´s coaching and development — it is a continuous dialogue between the student and the coach. This dialogue is characterized by closeness and concern. The coach is responsible for ensuring that the students assume the responsibility they can manage — and no more.

The content of the one-on-one tutorials varies, as in all coaching, depending on the student´s level of maturity and needs. In the beginning, the students receive mainly help and support with procedures — to accomplish their personal planning and understand the working methods. The focus gradually shifts to reflections on the student´s own learning process, where the students reflect on their goals, work, strategies and results. As students deepen their studies, they assume greater responsibility and receive additional coaching towards new challenging goals.
To ensure a structured and successful tutoring process, we have developed a number of tools for the teacher/coach, the student and the parents:

Personal tutorials/coaching sessions:

Students have a scheduled discussion with their coach on a weekly basis. This review, which is well-prepared, follows up and assesses each student´s performance according to the set goals and strategies by reflecting on their schoolwork, results and strategies. Reviewing and reflecting on their own learning process is a central part of the student´s discussion with the coach. As an outcome of the discussion, the goals, strategies and schedule for the next week are established.

Logbook:

Each student has a logbook, containing his/her learning goals, activities/tasks and timetable for the coming week. The logbook is the main tool for the student´s planning and reflection process. It is important for monitoring and guiding the student´s learning process and is therefore a central tool for personalized learning. The assessment of the past week is also entered into the logbook.

Progress tracking review/Development discussion:

When needed — but at least once every six months — students have a progress tracking review with their personal coaches. During the review, the goals and strategies for the student´s course of study are discussed and assessed. The review sheds light on the student´s school situation from a personal and social perspective and the goals are revised if necessary.

Individual study plan:

At the first progress tracking review/development discussion, the student, parents and the coach develop the student´s curriculum with personal goals and strategies. These are the medium- and long-term goals that should be attained within six months. Ultimate goals are those that the student aims to achieve for her entire education, the courses the student wants to take, and the quality of the knowledge as expressed in marks or exam scores. Based on these goals, objectives are set for the next six months. The individual study plan is documented in the EDS. The individual study plan is a living document that is reviewed and revised on a continuous basis.

EDS:

With the Educational Documentation System (EDS), the coach, student, and parents can follow the student´s learning process. The EDS contains the student´s personal curriculum and ultimate goals, and goals and strategies for the school term. The student´s grade results as well as their own personal reflections of his/her performance during the term are also documented in the EDS.

In the KED program, the teacher accommodates and leads the students´ different ways of learning. This demands a different mind set because the teacher is not only teaching and lecturing, but she or he is first and foremost the students´ partner and coach in learning.
 
A teacher´s role in the KED program consists of four parts: being a personal coach, a general coach, a subject expert, and a team member:

Personal coach: Each teacher is a personal coach for the students belonging to the teacher´s “base group.” Personal coaching includes instructing and counseling the students on their knowledge, personal, and social development.

General Coach: The teacher serves as a support resource for all students in the school, teaching the students how to learn, mediate and explain general strategies. The teacher also serves as a role model for students.

Subject teacher: As a subject expert, the teacher, in collaboration with his colleagues is responsible for planning and conducting workshops, seminars, lectures and other activities in steps and thematic courses. The collaboration between teachers is done locally at the school as well as with teachers from other schools. The teachers also participate in the joint work to develop and modify the step and thematic courses on the Learning Portal.

Team member: The teachers in a school are organized into teams. The teachers in these teams work together to plan, review, develop, and evaluate their work.

Time is a resource for the student´s learning. In a world where there is a good argument for every knowledge and skill you can learn, it is also the most scarce and limited of resources in school. The way it is utilized should therefore, as far as possible, be based on the student´s individual learning style and not be organized according to a traditional collective timetable.

Each student has a personal timetable that directs how time is used, based on the student´s personal goals and strategies. The school has a timetable for activities led by the teachers. From this timetable, students, in consultation with their coaches, select activities that are relevant to their studies and enter those activities in their logbooks. Students also enter other activities they have planned: the development discussion/progress tracking reviews with their coaches, time for group work, their individual work tasks, etc.

Loggbook

The students are therefore responsible for the way they spend their time and have much influence over it. However, the personal responsibility is never greater than what the individual student can manage. The personal coach is responsible for ensuring this.

Rather than the only option being the traditional classroom format, teaching and time are arranged in various forums: workshops, seminars, communication sessions, and lectures. When planning how to teach the content, the school chooses the format that is optimal for learning, ranging from individual studies to arena lectures, and every format in between. Activities led by teachers, the individual work of the students, and their work with other students is brought together in order to provide a joint foundation for the student´s learning.

The curriculum in the KED Program is based on national or state standards and core curriculum. Students shall at least reach state goals in stipulated time, but they also have the opportunity to reach further. But the curriculum in the KED program is structured in another way than in the conventional school.

All subjects in KED Schools are organized as step courses or thematic courses. The content of the steps and themes, as well as the performance, knowledge or grade requirements, are carefully adapted to meet the requirements of local curriculum and examinations.

The steps are designed to give the student an opportunity to study at his/her own level and pace. After an introductory assesment, students start on the step that matches their current level of knowledge.

The study pace will depend on the student´s personal goals and starting point. This way a gifted student has the opportunity to study at a faster pace and a student with difficulties can spend more time. Thus, the steps are a way to organize the learning process and enable personalized learning that provides depth in knowledge and opportunities for integrating academic skills. Depending on curricula, typical subjects to be studied as steps are home language, Mathematics, Modern Foreign Languages, and Science.

Some subjects can be studied in thematic courses. In some cases, context is just as important as hierarchy in a subject and the courses integrate several different subjects to illuminate different perspectives of a topic. In thematic studies, students are trained to change and widen their perspectives as they identify whole contexts and clarify the patterns between content subjects. In combination with the course structure, the thematic courses then form the basis for the educational process. 

The purpose of the school is to be a greenhouse for learning and development. The center of this objective is the student — not as a collective, anonymous group just clustered by age, but as individuals, with capabilities, ambitions and personalities. The most important assets for student success are skilled teachers with the time and capability to teach, coach and support the learning process.
 
But the success of this effort is also highly dependent on the recognition of the school as a complex and sophisticated operation. Like any successful company or organization, the success of schools in its core objective is depending on running a smooth operation, with systems and processes in place. Kunskapsskolan has the same approach in developing tools and processes for school operations as we have for the pedagogical development, i.e., evidence-based and well-developed processes based on best practice liberate teachers´ quality time for personalization and creativity.

Our processes range from the methodology of setting up a school to performance management systems with areas such as HR, finance, marketing and public relations in between.

img_k_gardestad“We human beings are affected by the rooms we act in. In the traditional school there are always corridors connecting classrooms. Those kinds of facilities are consuming areas without being very pedagogically effective. Schools Kunskapsskolan design, build and operates have no traditional corridors or classrooms. We have rooms of different sizes and character, because we all learn differently. All our premises are for study and learning, not only transportation, for small or bigger groups or for individual studies. And they are all designed to address different individuals´ different needs. That is my contribution to personalized education.

Kenneth Gärdestad, Chief Architect at Kunskapsskolan.

Kenneth Gärdestad has been responsible for the designing and reshaping of all buildings since the start of Kunskapsskolan. He was early in his career involved in designing educational institutions in Sweden and other parts of the world. Kenneth Gärdestad has a Degree in Architecture from The Royal Institute in Stockholm and a Master of Science degree from MIT in Boston. He has received several awards for his architecture.

The architecture in the KED program has been recognized and awarded around the world. But even so, architectural design is just the last part in our formula for outstanding education. The purpose of architecture, in our philosophy, is not just to create an icon or a statement in society, but to create the optimal environment for learning.

The room as a resource

The room – in the wide sense of the word – is as a resource for student´s different ways of learning that can be seen in two perspectives. First, all our premises are designed to suit the various needs of different students and learning tasks while in school. Second, students have the option to choose other places than the school to work with their studies – provided this is beneficial to the learning process.

Our premises are modern and innovative in design. They give an open, inviting and spacious impression, characterized by bright colors, aesthetic yet functional light and frequent glass walls. This unique design creates security that provides peace and quiet for working, while at the same time it facilitates supervision.

Kunskapsskolan schools have few corridors and spaces that are not used for learning purposes. Instead, there are a variety of purpose-designed, multi functional facilities for lectures, group sessions and individual studies. This approach allows the faculty to use the facility optimally for each individual learning task.

Besides being a superior design for pedagogical reasons, this provides a better use of space and hence economy and creates greater opportunities to convert premises originally built for other purposes to schools. Not the least, it creates a learning environment that resembles that of higher education and modern work life. Just what schools are supposed to be about — a preparation for life beyond school and for life long learning.

The Learning Portal TM is the KED program’s collective and web-based source of wisdom.

Students can find most of the learning material on the portal: the courses, the content, objectives and criteria for every step, assignments, texts, pictures, links and tests. The Learning Portal is an important tool in personalized learning because the content of the Learning Portal provides a wide variety of choices and is accessible to students anywhere and anytime.

In the KED program we don´t need to divide tasks into schoolwork or homework. You have work to do, and you can get it done in school, at home or anywhere there is an internet connection. KED Schools have work stations all around the school where students can access the Learning Portal. Many of our schools also have a Wi-Fi network, so students can continue their work after and between lessons. Thus learning is not an activity limited to the premises of class room.

The web-based Learning Portal is the backbone of the KED Program concept. It contains all the best material, developed by all the best teachers, and is distributed around the network of schools participating. It is under continuous development and review as teachers contribute with new material and experiences. The Learning Portal enables teachers to spend less time preparing lessons, while still being able to use all the best material, and leaves more time to spend with their students. From an educational point of view, this way of working assures students, families, and society that what is learned is not solely a function of an individual teacher.

The Learning Portal for teachers

For teachers the portal is also our common knowledge management system. Each subject has its own community and pages. Here teachers collaborate and contribute, with their best presentations and lectures and with best practices. The forum is moderated by some of our most experienced subject experts. This is a way of sharing and enabling the learning process for teachers. Every minute saved for a teacher who doesn´t have to prepare a lesson that has already been developed by colleagues is a minute that could be spent on personal coaching instead of preparation. That is one of the reasons why it is possible for our schools to provide more personal coaching time with the same staff resources as a conventional school. The Learning Portal gives teachers a realistic opportunity to “meet” each student where they happen to be in terms of their current knowledge development.

The Learning Portal for families
The family can take part in their child´s learning through the portal as well, by following the student´s timetable and performance through the EDS.