August 1, 2021
By: Greg Henson, President; Shanda Stricherz, Chief Creative Officer; and Nate Helling, Chief Financial Officer
Last week, we shared a bit about the partnership framework that we use within Kairos. Prior to that, we described the values and practices that guide our work and the passage from 1 Corinthians that informs our passion for collaboration. We see collaboration and partnership as something all who name Jesus as Lord should practice. As it turns out, collaborating with others is also a wonderful and life-giving operating principle for an organization! To fully live into this kind of reality, we have found it helpful to conceive of Kairos as a platform for theological education on which an array of discipleship journeys can be built. We highlighted this concept in a three-part series in which we described a platform and how Kairos can be imagined as such. You can read the series here: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.
In Part 1 of that series, a platform is described as:
“A system built around the interaction of people, businesses, institutions, etc. who create resources that are used on the platform (let’s call that group creators or developers) and people who use or participate in those resources (let’s call this group users or participants).
Kairos is designed to be such a platform. We aim to serve as a connector between students and the best practices of their current or desired vocations, learning experiences that leverage the best content and expertise with eager participants, learning experience creators and their sojourners, and/or vocational contexts and their needs.
The concept of a platform, as we are describing it, comes from the world of software development. If you are reading this article, you are using a number of technology platforms to do so. If you take any time to investigate platforms and how they work, you will most likely stumble upon the phrases “Application Programming Interface (API)” and “Software Development Kit (SDK).” You may also bump into a “Knowledge Base.” Most modern software platforms have something that falls into each of these categories. The same is true for Kairos, and we refer to the group of them as Partner Resources.
Over the past few years, we have developed Partner Resources that are designed to help potential partners learn more about how Kairos works and how to interact with or leverage Kairos as they pursue the work to which God has called them.
In the context of Kairos, the best way to understand the concept of “platform resources” is to think of them as things that are available to all partners. Often, partners will choose to collaborate with Kairos because of the opportunity to leverage the platform resources that exist. Here is a list of the various resources available as part of the Kairos platform.
The platform carries the burden of specialized, institutional, and programmatic accreditation. Partners that are working on the platform can have access to accredited and/or approved programs recognized by accreditors including the:
The platform utilizes a next-generation software and is a co-owner of the world’s largest digital theological library. Partners can choose to leverage the following resources in various ways:
One of the greatest aspects of the platform is the vast array of learning experiences available to students. All learning experiences (i.e., courses) that utilize the shared learning management system are available to all partners. In addition, partners share courses outside of the platform through appropriate Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs). Through this network, for example, students in Texas can interact with professors in Canada and faculty in South Dakota can teach people in Dubai. The learning experience library available through the platform provides a unique resource that partners can use to expand the number and variety of courses available to learners without increasing their costs.
Within Kairos there are faculty, staff, and therapists throughout North America and around the world that are available to walk alongside partners as they partner with or build programs on the platform. In some cases, there are ways to share faculty and staff in order to reduce costs or expand offerings.
Finally, integrated, legacy, and operating partners have the opportunity to leverage the top-notch back office functions of the platform. Student registration, admissions, federal or provincial student aid, student/client billing, and more are all resources that exist within the platform.
In the world of software development, an API is the means by which two software programs can talk to each other. It’s how Google Flights provides information on all of the flights from a bunch of different airlines or how you can book a hotel through Hotels.com without ever interacting with the hotel itself. For any of this to work, the two software programs have to agree on a standardized set of information and/or practices that can be shared between them. At its core, an API defines how two software programs associate with each other.
In Kairos, our “API” defines how partner programs and/or services associate with the degree programs offered by Kairos. It is the set of processes and/or aspects of a student’s journey that must be true for any partnership through which students can pursue an accredited degree within Kairos; they are the “set of information and/or practices” that all partners must utilize in order for a partnership to function at any degree program level.
We refer to this simply as the Program Interface. Here are the aspects of it:
A software development kit, or SDK, is a set of tools, instructions, or program components that software developers can use to build applications that work on a platform. For example, Apple has an SDK that helps app developers build applications that work on the iPhone. Zoom has an SDK that helps developers build applications that leverage Zoom’s video conferencing platform. Good SDKs save time and energy because they keep developers from having to build everything from scratch. They also standardize the development process so that applications can work in different contexts (e.g., on iOS or Android, on a phone or a computer, in an application or on a website, inside of other applications, etc.)
In Kairos, our SDK defines how partners can build specialized programs or learning experiences that take advantage of the tools, resources, and diversity that exist on the Kairos platform. It provides opportunities for integrated partners to customize the experience students will have or to launch new competency-based initiatives without having to start from scratch. By leveraging these tools, partners can offer affordable, accessible, relevant, and faithful journeys of theological education that are tailored for their mission and audience.
We refer to this collection of tools and resources as the Program Development Kit. Here are the aspects of it:
In the world of software platforms, a “Knowledge Base” is a collection of content and/or user forums where people who use the platform can go to find more information about how things work on the platform. As Kairos has grown over the years, we have found it very helpful to have a collection of stories, articles, and blog posts that describe what Kairos is and how it functions. Over the next few years, we plan to build hubs for students, mentors, and partners where they can go to find information and resources that will be particularly helpful for them.
Here is a list of the articles in our Story Center that we believe are most helpful in understanding the “why” and “how” of Kairos.
An Introduction to Kairos
An Invitation to Transformation
Standards of Excellence
Kairos as a Philosophy of Education
The Kairos Community