Sister School Exchange Destination Log

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Kimberly Kostachuk

The Alaska Humanities Forum (AKHF) is a non-profit organization founded in 1972 that is based in Anchorage, Alaska, and whose mission is “to use humanities to tell the stories and impact the lives of all Alaskans” through various educational programs.

The Rose Urban Rural Exchange (RURE) is a program created by the AKHF which aims to strengthen relationships between urban and rural Alaskans by building a statewide sense of community. This is achieved through various initiatives including the Sister School Exchange (SSE): A program that creates cross-cultural exchanges between urban and rural students and teachers.

RURE’s Destination Log is the online component of the SSE program. Its focus is to create a competency-based learning platform that supports sister schools in connecting over the internet by providing the ability to network and share what is happening in their classroom. The redevelopment of the Destination Log website aims to provide greater flexibility and efficiency in the creation and management of content at the core of this collaborative effort. The AKHF’s goal was to add major new functions and user experience to an existing platform while maintaining the original core functionality.

the twist

The overarching vision of the project was to build a platform with a social network functionality where teachers could easily create, share and modify educational content in order to suit a learner-centered and blended learning approach.

There were many exciting challenges in creating a new online learning platform but the main challenge was to find smart ways to solve the main critiques of existing e-learning platforms: these system look antiquated, are complicated to administer, and force a particular methodology on educators and learners alike. Consequently, we needed to build a tool that was powerful and flexible but also easy to use.

The team wanted to leverage the power of the community by allowing teachers to share their learning paths with other educators as well as access learning paths created by other teachers, modify these paths to fit a given context and contribute it back for others to use.

Furthermore, we were keen on ensuring that we could abstract some of the more AKHF specific requirements to create a platform that could be used in other context such as corporate training, employee onboarding, sport training, etc.

the solution

Building on the extensive experience gathered over the years by the AKHF team, we built a solution that lives in an uncluttered and simple user interface that offers easy navigation.

The key concept at the core of this platform, and the Destination Log, is the Learning Path: a collection of actionable items grouped around a series specific learning objectives. Students complete Learning Paths to earn badges and “unlock” the next level of tasks.

Learning Paths are typically created by educators and curriculum developers and can be reused, modified and shared through a common repository. Other educators who have access to this repository have the ability to use, modify, and contribute back their own Learning Paths to the repository, creating a truly collaborative experience for both learners and teachers.

The Destination Log allows students to create their own profiles, message their teachers and peers, create posts, upload videos to share with their networks, and interact through comments on each other’s content; ultimately building an integrated and connected peer community. The platform applies authentic learning experiences through integrating web 2.0 digital artifacts and networking in a safe and closed environment that is centred around student learning objectives.

Because of the simple design and modular nature of the system, future iteration of the platform will allow students to create learning path and self-assign or assign them to their peers.

the result

“The Jibe helped to create a product far more powerful than we had anticipated. Their team looked beyond our list of feature requests to help discover the underlying mechanics to make an extremely versatile tool.”

- Matthew Turner, Special Projects Coordinator, Alaska Humanities Forum The Destination Log was launched in October 2013 and was followed by the Alaska Studies site in early November. The program expects to see over 300 students using the platform over the next 3 months. While The Jibe is still working on the next iteration of the platform, we have built a learning tool that truly supports modern and forward thinking education.