August 1, 2022
by Greg Henson, CEO, Kairos University and President, Sioux Falls Seminary
When a student first begins the journey through a program with Kairos, it is often the first time she or he has had the opportunity to set their pace, direction, and approach to learning. In most cases elsewhere, when a student enters a program, she or he is given a list of courses that must be completed in a certain order (e.g., a degree plan), within a particular schedule (e.g., weekly class sessions during a semester), and using a specific modality (e.g., an online or onsite class).
Within Kairos, you have the opportunity to consider an array of options for how you make progress in the program. The pace, style, and organization of your learning journey can be set by you! We call this “student centered.” We have built an educational structure that puts students first. While each program has a defined list of outcomes (i.e., areas of integrated learning in which each student must demonstrate proficiency), how and where you begin, as well as the path you take to develop and demonstrate proficiency, can be defined by you.
While this can be exciting, it can also be a bit intimidating. There is a lot to learn and demonstrate in a degree program. As you start your journey through Kairos, it can be helpful to reflect a bit on where you might start. Here are a few questions to consider:
What are you most (or least) excited about?
In an earlier article in this series about questions to consider, we mentioned that it is important to reflect on why you began this program in the first place. If you have a deeper “why” behind enrolling in a particular program, that is often a great catalyst for thinking about where to begin. To put it another way, sometimes the best place to start is with something you are excited about. Take a look at the outcomes listed for your program. Which one is most interesting to you? Is it biblical studies? Theology? Leadership? Something else? Work with your mentor team to chart out a path for diving into an area that you are most interested in exploring.
Some students, however, find it helpful to start in an area that is the least interesting. In this approach, students are moving the “big rocks” out of the way. In our experience, this tends to open up new doors for learning. It can be great to start with stuff that could be difficult because it might be a way to learn about something new!
Where do you need to grow?
Sometimes, the best place to begin is wherever you most want to grow. For example, if you are leading a business and feel like you need to grow in the area of leadership or financial management, then perhaps the best place to begin might be study and practice in the area of leadership. If you don’t feel like you need to grow in any particular area, I might suggest you think a bit more deeply. All of us need to grow. Ask your mentors if they have suggestions for where you need to grow and then be open to their suggestions. By starting with an area in which you feel the need for growth, you will often be more self-motivated – which is very helpful in Kairos.
What is your preferred method of learning?
Now that you have an idea of where you’d like to begin, take some time to reflect on how you might like to engage in that learning process. Do you learn best by doing something (e.g., “on-the-job kind of learning)? Do you prefer to read and then discuss what you’ve read? Watch videos? Listen to audiobooks or podcasts? Write? What kind of learning experiences are you naturally drawn toward?
You may not be fully aware of how you learn best, and that is okay. Most of us struggle to know exactly how we learn. Often, how we learn best is dictated by the type of thing we are trying to learn. For example, if we are trying to learn how to ride a bike, we are going to learn best by doing it. You can’t “read” your way into learning how to ride a bike. Nonetheless, some of us have more natural ways of gathering and analyzing information. For example, I prefer auditory learning experiences if I am studying something like theology. What about you? Do you like traditional learning experiences that occur over the course of several weeks and are guided by a traditional syllabus? Or do you prefer focused learning experiences that invite you to explore a specific topic for a short period of time? Do you like to be in a cohort with others learning the same thing or do you prefer asynchronous learning? There are many options. Take some time to think about what might be the most intriguing or helpful for you.
How do you like to communicate?
Finally, take some time to think about how you like to communicate. Consider the rhythm and modality. For example, do you prefer email? Text messaging? Videoconferencing? Phone calls? What about the rhythm? Do you like to be in frequent communication, or do you prefer to check in with someone periodically? Also, do you have a preferred method for how you communicate what you are learning? Some people like to write papers. Others like to demonstrate learning in some sort of tangible fashion. Still, others love creative or artistic expressions of learning coupled with a conversation about their meaning. While in the program, you will no doubt use several types of communication. You won’t finish the program with just text messaging. However, you can influence the modality and frequency of communication. What might work well for you?
As you begin your journey through Kairos, you have the opportunity to shape the pace, style, and organization of your learning. Take some time to think about how that might work best for you. By doing this at the beginning, you will set the stage for greater success later in the program.
Next week will be our last article in this series. We will look at what it means to invite others on this journey with you.