Ketso Connect is an easy and effective way for groups of people to develop and share ideas together, even when they are apart. It is proving to be an invaluable tool for meetings and workshops, driving engagement and encouraging creative thinking. Since the early days of lockdown in the UK, we have been exploring how to adapt the power of Ketso for remote teaching, with fantastic results. Here we look at its application outside of academia, for collaborative learning, partnership and team building, and leadership development.

The Ketso range is already in use in over 80 countries in fields as diverse as health and wellbeing, the environment, community and business planning. This hands-on engagement tool has been proven to work in all kinds of settings where groups of people need to collaborate and learn from each other, including stakeholder engagement, strategy development and team building from local to national levels. Award-winning Ketso Connect is the latest innovation from the Ketso stable of toolkits.

Ketso Connect was developed to address the unusual circumstances of the pandemic that have compelled us to look for new ways to work together whilst physically apart. This compact kit is designed to be used by individuals, either working on the same topic alongside others in a workshop (wherever in the world they happen to be) or in their own thinking and planning. It works well in conjunction with image-sharing software, like Padlet, to share ideas in real time during digital workshops. It has now been employed extensively for remote and blended workshops and collaborative learning, and the results and feedback have been enormously positive.

Ketso Connect increases clarity, as participants illustrate ideas and priorities on physical leaves that can be arranged on the felt workspace. The leaves can be moved so that concepts are linked together in clusters, giving a clear overview of ideas before sharing them in group discussions online. The resulting ‘map’ of ideas is intuitive and easy to comprehend. Feedback has shown it not only builds knowledge, it also builds confidence for those engaging with it.

“It is refreshing to see a hands-on toolkit instead of pure digital tools in this time of pandemic-driven disconnection. We are using this new approach in work in Natural England to help us implement the National Nature Recovery Network.”

The many uses for Ketso Connect

One of the aspects of Ketso Connect that has really excited us is the way people are able to take the kit and start using it in their own work and projects. We have already heard of three people who were sent kits for use in an online workshop, who have gone on to use them to prepare for job interviews. Several people have told us they have taken advantage of the fact that the wallet converts the felt to a wall hanging, to have their to-do list always to hand, and gain great satisfaction from moving the leaves into the ‘done’ column. One person commented, that “it made me feel productive and organised”.

Because using Ketso Connect helps people to build skills and develop their ideas, we feel it will be especially beneficial in these contexts:

  • Transformation and change projects
  • Partnership development
  • Team building and staff engagement
  • Capacity building as part of workshop / training
  • Youth empowerment
  • Leadership development
  • Wellbeing and coaching

Creating time to think and plan

The expression ‘Zoom fatigue’ has become synonymous with lockdown measures. Online meetings with several participants can sometimes be boring and difficult to navigate. It can be challenging to have your say, leading to frustration and distraction. It is clear that for large group meetings the digital format has produced mixed results. Yet the time and money saved from reduced travel means that some form of remote meetings, and hybrid options with some people dialling in to face-to-face meetings, are likely to stay long past the pandemic.

Ketso Connect is a pandemic-inspired innovation in collaborative learning that has powerful advantages beyond the current crisis. A key advantage with Ketso Connect when using platforms like Zoom, is that in addition to discussion it promotes a tactile, stop-and-think method for capturing and developing strategic thinking. The kit allows everyone to visualise, prioritise and move their ideas around for a clear overview of concepts. These can then be shared via photographs using software like Padlet. Facilitators have commented that Ketso Connect encourages deeper thinking and reflection; it creates the space for some quiet time and that quiet time has purpose. Once the ideas are compiled on the Padlets, it is also striking just how much information and creative thinking can be captured in a short period of time.

Ensuring everyone’s ideas are heard

The fact that everyone is using the same physical toolkits in their own spaces helps create a sense of cohesion. The visual sharing of ideas brings another major advantage of ‘normal’ Ketso into the virtual space, that of making sure we hear everyone’s voice. All participants can see the visual representation of everyone’s ideas, so nothing is lost in the hubbub of discussion. We have had many reports from people who normally find it difficult to speak up in digital meetings, that having some off-line time to develop their ideas makes them feel more confident to contribute. Both the shared space and the personal thinking space become stronger.

The simplicity of this reusable kit is also attractive. It can be set up quickly, and is easy to use anywhere as it is highly portable. You can post each kit to relevant group members and they own it. This is a cost-effective investment in their development, and the kit can be used for future sessions and in their other projects and planning.

As an innovation, Ketso Connect has been used extensively in online learning settings, with over 1000 students using kits in 25 countries. Now, we are seeing increasing use outside of academia. Here are just some of the organisations that are finding value from Ketso Connect during the pandemic: Carbon Landscape Project, Natural England, Shelter, National Trust, Liverpool Council’s Safeguarding Children Partnership and Sefton Council for Voluntary Service (CVS). In a sign of the shifting times, we have just sold two of our large kits modified to also work as 24 Ketso Connects – so the same materials can be used in remote settings, then recombined into kits for face-to-face or hybrid workshops when the time is right. We are really excited by the extra flexibility and options this new way of working brings.

Here’s some comments we have compiled from the feedback so far:

  • I join around 10 webinars per week and yours was sincerely the best. The most engaging, inclusive, organised and fun! I’ve added your approach to my reflections log for future use in my projects.
  • Writing things on little leaves helps thoughts to flow, as well as encouraging conciseness. It was a very pleasant experience, much nicer than doing things virtually and nice to be given the time to think.
  • Thanks for leading the session last night. It went really smoothly and the Ketso kits are a great idea.
  • Thank you for a fabulous first session last night, it was really well put together and there was a fantastic buzz about the meeting I thought!
  • Loved the Ketso kit, found that really engaging and a useful tool. A snapshot of our ideas, very neat.
  • Normally when you are sat in front of zoom you can feel quite isolated and quite detached so that was a nice way to tie it all together.
  • I found the Ketso kit easy to use and a vast improvement on e.g. Miro which I’ve used in other workshops. People like to have something REAL to use I think.

Hands-on, not just online

And here’s an endorsement we are particularly proud of from Dr Amanda Wright, Partnership Manager at Natural England.

“At Natural England, we have embedded the Ketso toolkit into our community and stakeholder engagement, because it helps us to achieve our environmental aims. It makes it easier for us to actually hear what people care about in their local area. It has also helped build and maintain a strong partnership across local authority boundaries and amongst diverse organisations, essential to helping us think at a landscape level of scale. This latest innovation comes from adapting the tool to work in digital workshops. It is refreshing to see a hands-on toolkit instead of pure digital tools in this time of pandemic-driven disconnection. The kit has been reformed to be used by people working remotely, but communicating together. We are using this new approach in work in Natural England to help us implement the National Nature Recovery Network.”

We are noticing new benefits emerge all the time and we will continue to track the ways Ketso Connect is used for facilitating online workshops, coaching, team building and leadership development.

Ketso Connect is currently available in our online shop, where you can order kits for each member of your group, with discounts for bulk orders.