Four persons from our team attended Mobile Learning Week, organized by UNESCO and UNHCR in Paris 20-24 March. The theme of the conference was “Education in emergencies and crises”. The week began with a two-day symposium, when Linda and Khaled presented our project and preliminary results from our first usability study.
For many refugees the smartphone is a lifeline and the conference discussed how mobile technologies can enable continued training. An example of a practical initiative is the competition EDUAPP4SYRIA, launched by the Norwegian government.
Some common themes that were highlighted in the presentations were the importance of user-centered .design, technology as a bridge to the education of women, personal contact as an equally important component as digital education, and that many refugees admittedly are used to using the phone to maintain social contact but not for educational purposes. For example, in one of the speeches Timothy Reed, from the UNED, stated that a lesson learned from previous studies was that students do not always use mobile technologies in the expected manner and that we should not forget to listen to what the refugees really need because we sometimes provide them with tools based on what we think they need.