FRI: Access To Higher Education For Refugees In Crisis Settings: Adapting An OER to mLearning (Ken Simpson)
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17 January 2019
According to UNESCO (2018) there are now a record number of refugees in the world, some 22.5 million out of a total of 65 million globally displaced people. The average length of time for a refugee to be displaced is not two or three years but 17 years (Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre 2014) which is a long period of time to be living in limbo. Only 1% of the global population of refugees gain access to higher education, this corresponds to 50% accessing primary and 25% accessing secondary education. As a population refugees are excluded from many opportunities being stateless and ineligible for many initiatives.
As Crea (2017) indicates, tertiary education may be seen as a psychosocial intervention as much as an educational program renewing a sense of dignity to those who may otherwise feel excluded and allowing them to contribute positively to their community.
Gaskell (2018) notes, there may be limited access to technology, support and electricity in crisis settings. Creed and Morpeth (2017) view Open Education in emergency and conflict areas as giving an element of continuity to learning that would otherwise be disrupted. Though its use is admirable OER may not specifically be meeting the needs of the refugee population being neither culturally appropriate nor language specific.
Information and communication technology is increasingly available at refugee camps in Kenya and to a lesser extent in Uganda (Dryden-Peterson et. al., 2017). In Dadaab and Kakuma camps refugees would unplug computer monitors to charge their phones instead. Hounsell and Owuor (2018) found that mobile phone ownership by refugees in camps was very high, 96% at Kakuma and 93% at Nakivale. Focusing on the type of phone, 44% at Kakuma had Smartphones and 25% at Nakivale. This was followed by 14% and 21% having a feature phone and 39% and 46% having a basic phone. The possibilities for delivering a strong supplementary education by mobile are therefore very applicable.
This project looks at adapting an Open Educational Resource to be more mobile friendly for use in refugee contexts. The course is called ‘Learning to Learn’ which is a preparation course for tertiary study, this was selected to be the most appropriate and useful focus in the absence of a defined and certified tertiary curricula. It will consider two mobile learning models: the Framework for the Analysis of Mobile Education (FRAME) model (Koole, 2009) and the Three-level Evaluation Framework (Vavoula & Sharples, 2009). The three-level framework looks at usability, learning experience and integration into the existing learning environment. The FRAME model considers the convergence of mobile technologies, learning capacities and social interaction.