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Circles of Understanding

Circles of Understanding offer series of online micro-learning experiences aimed at broadening one’s scope. Considered by many students as ‘a level up course in being human’, the insights and challenges are an enriching adventure in which students are their companions’ influencers and followers at the same time.

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Two needs, one solution

Firstly, globalization on the one hand and growing intolerance and polarization the other make the need for developing and practicing global citizenship increasingly important. Secondly, nine skills are widely considered as essential in the education of today’s students. Socio-cultural skills. Communication. Collaboration. Critical thinking. Self-regulation. Media literacy. Problem solving. Creativity. Entrepreneurship. Circles of Understanding offer a learning path to help students become 21st-century skilled global citizens. Because existing curricula at most universities leave little or no room for this, universities offer the Circles of Understanding to their students as an honours program.


A new learning experience

Over the years, the Academy of Understanding has gained extensive experience in creating effective online learning programs for a wide variety of audiences. The Circles of Understanding are offered in a way that has proved to be the most successful among university students. A Circle consists of 25 micro-lessons, pearls of understanding, containing an insight, an explanation and a challenge. Currently, there are four consecutive Circles available. The ‘classroom’ is a mobile app, that generates a new lesson every four days. Students are encouraged to upload and share their experiences after executing every challenge in a private online space, only accessible to their group. Here, every student is a follower and influencer at the same time. Moderators/teachers are allowed to watch all uploads by students, written, filmed or recorded, but they’re strongly advised not to give any comments. Research has shown that when there is no active moderator, student participation is highest. When it comes to investigating and developing life skills, young adults simply prefer learning from and with their peers without any interference. After every six lessons however, the group can have a live or online meeting, where a moderator/teacher evaluates learnings.


Time investment

Reading a pearl of understanding takes less than two minutes. Executing challenges, at any moment that is convenient to the student, may take from minutes to a few hours. Reporting can be done swiftly, time reading and commenting on uploads varies from student to student and group to group. Overall, time invested by students has an average of 60 - 80 hours. Time spent by a moderator/teacher (reading uploads, 4 gettogethers with the group) is 16 hours on the average.


Adopting Circles of Understanding

Because the Circles of Understanding are developed to be offered as a program with minimal moderation, moderators/teachers need only little education and preparation to be able to conduct the programs. An online instruction session of 90 minutes and several short video tutoriuals have proved to be sufficient. Participating students receive the Circles of Understanding app, the 25 pearls, technical and content related support of the Academy’s help desk. And, after completion of the Circle, a Certificate of Participation.

Currently, there are four consecutive Circles of Understanding available, so the Circles can also be offered to students as a multiannual program.

Learning is picking up, becoming wister is letting go
Listen if you want to be heard
What is normal?
Look at things from the same perspective
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