The Co-operative College | Cooperative learning: digital disability engagement



Why the work is being done

This challenge:  The Co-operative College supports young people with learning difficulties, disabilities and autism to make a positive difference in their community. In order for our online projects to remain participant-led, co-produced and truly beneficial experiences, our participants need to be able to access online sessions and be involved in the evaluation and development of the learning materials.
We are aiming  to develop a solution that enables young people with autism / SEND to provide an emoji or image-based feedback response on the sessions/activities they have attended. This will enable us to improve the participant experience and overall project content and delivery.

This programme is part of the Catalyst and The National Lottery Community Fund COVID-19 Digital Response funding initiative; a partnership between The National Lottery Community Fund and CAST, supported by the Catalyst network.

Problem to solve

The College works with young people with autism and SEND on the Co-operative Adventure project - which runs nationwide - to provide learning and growth, build confidence and enable future training and employment opportunities. The blanket financial impact of the current crisis fuels already widespread poverty and unemployment, making the most deprived regions in the country where the College works to make a difference in even more need of support. 
As the project runs nationwide, specific community challenges are varied, however, the ability to access and genuinely benefit from online support, community and learning is a common challenge. 
By taking our projects online we endeavor to enable our young people to engage and learn the skills required to navigate and participate in digital learning. In order for our online projects to remain participant-led, co-produced and truly beneficial experiences, our participants need to be able to access online sessions and be involved in the sessions’ evaluation and development.

Who are the users and what do they need to do

The users are the attendees of our now online projects and those who deliver them, and their needs are outlined in the below statements
  • As a young person with autism and/or SEND, when I join an online session I need to feel welcome and valued so that I can develop the life, and cooperative skills needed to learn and contribute to my community.’
  • ‘As a Co-operative Adventure participant when I attend the project in an online space I need a safe, welcoming and inclusive space to be able to build my social and cooperative skills so that I can be an effective and valued member of the cohorts co-operative.’ 
  • ‘As a co-operative member when I work with the cooperative online I need to be able to contribute to group work so that we can collectively co-produce a co-operative event.’
  • ‘As a project coordinator I need to gauge the sentiments of the cohort so that I can ensure the pitch and pace of the session is appropriate’
Key Outcomes/ Outputs/ Deliverables

Further development of prototype and process is needed to establish final outcomes, outputs and deliverables. To be completed in the early stages of the development phase.

  • Improved and more accurate user feedback on the online delivery of our Adventure project and an overall improved, participant led, user experience for young people with learning disabilities.
  • Improved future project coordinator training and improved project delivery.
  • Improved content development as a result of improved feedback.
  • Improved overall online delivery of the Co-operative Adventure project, and to apply these improvements to our other online delivery where possible.
  • A deeper understanding of the catalyst programme processes, embedding aspects of this into the College’s wider team and projects.

  • To further test and develop the prototype.
  • To run additional staff training sessions as a result of improved, accurate feedback, and develop key areas of project delivery and facilitation.
  • To embed young person feedback time into our project delivery timeline.
  • To work with a digital partner to gain insight and new perspective on the project. 

Key project resources

Co-design workshop slides
Shared on 10/02/2021