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Hi Sarah, love this post and the focus on competency-based higher education. This is also something I'm passionate about - the program I am working with right now focuses on providing competency-based AA & BA degrees for refugees internationally, and we now want to work to adapt this idea for resettled refugees in the US (https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/future-of-highered/refinement/developing-a-higher-education-model-for-resettled-refugees-competency-based-degrees-for-successful-transition-and-employment). I think there is probably a lot of overlap with the issues that the nontraditional students you are working with also face. I would love to learn more about the pilot and the early stage results. Hope to continue this discussion!

Hi Mary, thanks so much for sharing your idea with the OpenIDEO community! I'm really interested in the app program that you've developed. I work on higher education programs for refugees, and English literacy and proficiency is a huge challenge for many of our students. I would love to learn more about the pilot program you are conducting with the teachers in Africa, and how it is going! Do you have any evidence of how your program can be used to support school readiness at various levels - primary, secondary or tertiary?

Hi Kate, to respond to your first post, yes you are correct! In the initial phase we want to build upon the evidence that we have from the first pilot program. We will test a prototype of an online competency course to understand more specifically the challenges faced by resettled refugee students in terms of language barriers, and technology and time constraints. We also want to conduct further investigation to better understand the ways in which more traditional higher education experiences - both brick-and-mortar or remote programs - is working or not working for students by doing focus group discussions and in-depth interviews with students who either are or have previously been enrolled in higher education degree programs, such as community colleges. We then want to use this to build and test a new model of competency-based higher education for resettled refugee populations, which will hopefully involve an expanded pilot program!

I'm really intrigued by the Literacy Speedway project. One of the biggest challenges that we face in our program is language barriers, and in our international work we have found that partnering with other organisations who can provide targeted and contextualised preparation programs - including language support - is the best way to prepare students for success in our program. Looking forward to continuing this conversation with Mary Ressler!