We need an entire global education platform strategised, mapped, designed, tested and built, and we only have eight weeks to do it.
Generation Global, an initiative of the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, is an international education programme that enables young people to embrace the future, equipped with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to become active, global and open-minded citizens.
The programme works in partnership with governments, not-for-profit organisations, schools and teachers to provide young people aged 11 to 17 with the skills to be able to navigate their experiences of globalisation and life’s opportunities and challenges in a way that leads to better understanding rather than conflict.
With the Covid-19 pandemic resulting in the closure of schools in 191 countries and the uncertainty over reopening plans, Generation Global is responding to the changing situation by developing an interactive online student-centred pathway. They asked us to work with them to deliver this platform as quickly as possible, to ensure minimal disruption to young peoples' education.
After an initial strategy sprint with Generation Global to assess their needs, Deeson embarked on an 8-week agile delivery project to build a student-led online pathway, providing both self-study educational resources and the ability to engage with others remotely.
In a highly collaborative process between Deeson and the Institute, we helped adapt the education experience from being teacher-led in a classroom setting, to being student-led, online learning. The interactive pathway we have created provides a safe and inclusive space for young people to learn dialogue skills and practice them through interaction with young people around the world, supporting all of the educational ideals of the programme in its original form.
The most crucial aspect of this project was delivering a safe educational platform as quickly as possible. We kicked off the project with a two-day strategy sprint with Generation Global, to understand the full scope of the problem, and identify potential solutions. This resulted in the concept of a student-centred platform, offering both a fun individual learning component and an interactive gamified experience to engage with others in a dialogue space, which we decided to build from scratch using Drupal.
Given the highly time-sensitive nature of this project, we used agile delivery methodologies to work quickly and collaboratively with Generation Global. By conducting several sessions per week with the Institute team we were able to move the decision-making process into real time. This enabled us to take action as issues arose, moving from concept, to feedback, sign-off and delivery in a matter of days.
Under pandemic lockdown measures, Generation Global's student participants no longer had access to the lessons and videoconferencing sessions facilitated by their teachers at school. The online pathway therefore had to replicate the process by which students would have first learned dialogue skills in a classroom, and then participated in structured dialogues with others via videoconferences organised by their teacher.
We designed the online discussion forum to encourage constructive dialogue. Built-in friction points challenge participants to think about their comments, ensuring that they reflect on their own opinions and engage with others with an open and curious attitude. We also supported the development of Generation Global's evaluation methods to incorporate a modular online tool to collect data on key metrics that helps changes in students’ open-mindedness and attitudes towards others during their participation in the programme.
Generation Global's new online student pathway provides a safe and secure platform for students to continue their educational journey through connections with global peers when they can't physically attend school.
The agile approach taken by Deeson on this project facilitated the fastest possible delivery of the end product, minimising disruption to the young people on the programme. The highly collaborative nature of the project also ensured that Generation Global's educational principles and key student evaluation metrics aligned perfectly with the design of the pathway.
This is helping to build a valuable educational tool for Generation Global's students worldwide, increasing global cooperation and understanding, and building young people’s resilience to extremism, particularly vital during a pandemic when young people are spending more time online and misinformation is rife.