Teachers' guide

This page describes how you as a teacher can get started using Koios in the classroom.

The steps here should be seen as suggestions. We appreciate any feedback to improve this guide.

Step 1 Assess your class

Make sure your class is a good fit for a Koios project.

  • Time: You will need
    • 2-3 hours to familiarize yourself with the Koios platform.
    • 5-15 hours of initial planning to design a roll out plan and timeline for your students to complete the Koios project.
    • A full semester for you and the students to carry out the project.
  • Computer Access: You will need Internet access and students need access to a computer (a laptop or PC is preferred over a tablet). Students may form groups with up to 4 members.
  • Skills: Students should have some basic experience with:
    • Internet searching.
    • Working with images, uploading content etc.
    • Social media use.
    • Project based collaboration/ group work (if students are to work in teams).
    • Students will also benefit from having been exposed to topics such as Critical Thinking, the Scientific Method etc.

Step 2 Initial preparations for teachers

These are some recommended preparations for teachers who are not already familiar with Koios (This will also help to evaluate if Koios is a good candidate to be used as part of the education):

1. Read Koios about-pages such as;

2. Go step by step through one or more of the existing featured challenges to become familiar with the structure of the site.

3.Become familiar with how Koios works by interacting with the site, for example by adding 3 content items at different places in the problem solving process or by getting involved on a challenge you are personally interested in.

4. Design a plan that encompasses your vision of how your students will engage with Koios.The structure you decide for your class can depend on many things, in particular the age of the students. In addition to the timeline, think about the following questions:

  • Will students work on Koios only in class? (Some students might also want to use Koios after school time at home)
  • What will the parameters be for students commenting on one another’s content and postings?
  • Should students be allowed to collaborate with other groups or contact people/stakeholders to get more information?
  • Should students be allowed to contact external people (outside of the Koios platform) without approval of teacher?
  • On what areas of the problem process should what students work? Should they all work on the same step in the process or should they be assigned to different places and later switch focus area?
  • How much content should each student (or team) add each week? (5,10 content items?)
  • How many comments can each student (or team) add each week? (up to 20 comments?).

Be prepared to change rules/guidelines throughout the project as all problems and problem solving teams differ. There are no general rules that will work for all. Also some type of content items are more time consuming to create than others. For example, drawing diagrams are much more time consuming than writing text, and some steps in the process requires more reflection and critical thinking than other steps. This means that some steps will be easier to complete than other parts.

Step 3 Plan the time schedule

Make a plan for the steps described below (steps 3-8). This document should contain a roll out plan including a timeline of when each step will be completed.

Decide if you want to supplement with other relevant learning material. Example topics can be:

  • Systems Thinking. The Waters foundation has great resources for children. Koios is heavily influenced by Systems Thinking and we believe teaching the basics of this can be very useful for the understanding of Koios.
  • Internet searching.
  • Uploading content. Copyright regulations (e.g., citing sources)
  • Digital citizenship and Social media use.

The page ‘How to become a better problem solver’ may also be used to get ideas for supplementary learning material.

Decide if you want to do more reading up or research into the Koios platform in order to be even better prepared.

If you have questions or specific needs; contact the Koios representatives to discuss how to implement Koios in the classroom.

Step 4 Introduction for students

Teach the basics of the Koios platform such as what it is used for, how it is used and why students should use it etc. Perhaps you want to give a short presentation of the different steps of the problem solving process.

Present the project plan to the students and describe the project phases.

Steer expectations. Remember that you will probably not actually solve the problem. Usually, creating a sustainable and viable solution to the problem will be out of scope unless you are working on a very local and limited problem. Solving a systemic problem would usually require much more work such as collaborating with stakeholders, creating campaigns, getting buy-in from decision makers, etc. Tell your students that they will achieve a better understanding of the problem that could be used to take the next steps of actually solving it. At the time of writing Koios has not implemented phase 2 of its platform which is all about helping people to form grass root movements and implementing change projects.

Prepare students for the upcoming project work. It is going to be lots of sensemaking, discussions, investigations and content creation. Perhaps reviewing the goals and/or standard operating procedures for collaborative research based work would be helpful. For useful rubrics on collaboration, please check out The Buck Institute for Education.

Step 5 Find a suitable problem

Have a brainstorming session with the students to find social problems in your neighbourhood, community, in your school etc. The local newspaper can be a good source for finding problems to solve.

Decide if you want to collaborate with another teacher and his/her class. In that case you might have a shared brainstorming session, or maybe you can join an existing challenge. Before creating a problem space always check to see if there is an existing one on your topic.

The problem you choose should have these characteristics:

  • It should be systemic. (system wide).
  • It does not have an obvious or solution.
  • There is no obvious solution.
  • It affects many people.

The Koios about page holds more information about the type of problems that are best suited for Koios.

Involving the students in deciding on the problem is important for motivation. “Solving” a social problem is hard and will require a lot of effort. It is therefore important that the students care about the problem.

Find out if you should do some field work such as interviews or field observations. If this is relevant plan who does what when. Begin to plan appointments if needed. This can be hard to know in advance so be prepared for changes to the plan.

Step 6 Start the Koios project

You as a teacher create an empty challenge. If the students are minors: Create protected user accounts (not yet supported feature).

Explain to the students the ground rules you planned in step 2.

Step 7 Work on the Koios problem

Suggestions for how to divide up the work amongst students:

  • Have students find background material. For tips and suggestions to find information, have students read Student Guidelines for Successful Internet Searching and/or watch the Teaching Channel video Improving Research Skills with Effective Keywords.
  • Get an overview of all the online material, books, newspapers etc and divide material if there are some students that have too much or too little material. Students (or team of students) should have an equal amount of reading material.
  • Have students read the background material they found (and possibly discuss it in their group if group based work).
  • Have the students go through the Koios challenge process steps (up until the solution stage) and fill in content that they have just read. Each step of the Koios process has a series of questions. Students will go through the various steps and try to answer the questions they believe they have answers to based on what they have read. Students should only answer questions they believe they have valid and quality content on.
  • Each content item they add should be supported by a link/reference to background material or field work. It is advisable to focus first on the process up until the solution stage first or else you might have many solution proposals that are not very thought through.
  • The process of adding content should be an iterative process. This means that students should go through the process steps several times and possibly re-read the material. During this process they should find even more background material to “fill in the blanks” and to create both a wider and deeper understanding.
  • Have the students critique one another’s work by letting them comment on the work of the others (comment on content items). Have them look for illogical arguments and unsupported statements.
  • Let students react to the comments by submitting counter arguments or improving the content.
  • During this process you might decide to ask students to record their experiences, to log their work and type into Koios their challenges, setbacks, ideas and opportunities they acted upon.
  • Have students iterate over the process steps until you are fairly satisfied with the content.
  • Now move on to the solutions stage. Have a shared brainstorming session to come up with solutions to the problem. Discuss the pros and cons of the solutions in class. Students are likely to have some preferences on solutions so have them own the solutions. The students who favor a solution should be the ones who add it on Koios. Now it is time to detail out the solutions to test on “paper” if the solution is viable and feasible. Have students fill in all the slots of the solution proposals.
  • Students who do not have a preference on a solution may spend time looking for solutions that have already been tried elsewhere or which is currently being tried etc.
  • When you are done creating solution proposals the next step is to choose the best solutions. Discuss all the pros and cons in class and try to form a consensus on the best solution. If needed have a vote on the best solution.
  • Depending on your time restraints and the scope of the problem this may be a natural place to stop. If you decide to stop at this point you may want to summarize the solution and why you think it will have the best effect on the problem.
  • During the project you should have a good overview of the progress so you should know many days or even weeks in advance if this is where you stop. You might also continue from here and actually try to solve the problem in the real world but keep in mind that Koios does not support this phase at the moment. It is important that you keep track of the progress and decide in advance if you should stop here or not. If you do decide to stop here you might have more time to improve the content that is already generated. If you do decide to continue with solving the problem in the real world you might have to speed up the process to be able to reach your goals.
  • Communicate to students that you are approaching the end of the project. This is important so that you will have a nice controlled end to the project and you avoid a situation where the project is suddenly stopped and students have to abort their current work.

Make sure you set aside time to evaluate the content that the students add during the project.

Step 8 Roundup

At the end of the project you should set aside time to

  • Prepare final feedback to students based on their interactions on Koios and in class. Evaluations and grades.
  • Have a session with students to reflect and discuss the project outcome and the state of the problem they tried to solve. What could be some follow up work etc. (1-2 hours)
  • Have a session to reflect on work inside Koios. (1 hour) Relevant questions to ask can be:
    • How did you feel when others did not agree with your statements and solutions, how did you best resolve and deal with the disagreements?
    • What were the most challenging things you encountered?
    • What did not go so well in the process? (and why was that?)
    • What was the best moments and best experiences with using Koios?
    • What are the shortcomings of the tool?
    • What would you do differently the next time?
    • What have you learned from using such a tool?
  • Have students prepare a conclusion or report of the work.
  • Prepare your own conclusion, lessons learned and summary of the work to be presented for other teachers and to the students when finalizing the project.
  • Wrap up the challenge by closing the student accounts. Feature not yet implemented.

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