New InZone Publication: How learner­-centered pedagogies and human­-centered design can unleash refugee innovation


Paper to be presented at Tech4Dev conference on May 3

The InZone team is pleased to announce the publication of our new article: "Higher education spaces and protracted displacement: How learner­-centered pedagogies and human­-centered design can unleash refugee innovation."

This paper will be presented by Barbara Moser-Mercer, Erin Hayba and Josh Goldsmith at the upcoming Tech4Dev conference in Lausanne on May 3, 2016. We look forward to seeing many of you there!

The abstract for the paper follows, and the full text of the paper is available here.


The number of refugees and displaced persons around the world is the largest in history. Education in Emergencies responses have traditionally focused on primary education; higher education opportunities have often been perceived as a luxury. However, in 2015 the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, thereby broadening the education mandate to include lifelong learning. Refugee youth have extremely limited options in conflict and crisis zones. However, rapid advances in technology and online learning have laid the foundations for making higher education opportunities accessible for refugee youth.

Education fosters innovation and entrepreneurial skills that are important for economic activity and job creation – elements that are critical for stability during times of reconstruction and for longer­term sustainable development. If refugees and internally displaced persons receive a quality education while in exile, they are more likely to develop the necessary skills to make use of the existing economic, social and political systems in their host communities as well as upon returning home.

This paper analyses the contribution of Open Educational Resources (OERs) to building 21 st century skills and explores the value of tutoring and mentoring models, learner retention, learning technologies, and provision of language and subject matter support that best mediate higher­-level learning in fragile contexts. Variables such as sustainability, operability, equal access, cultural and linguistic ownership, livelihoods and context relevance were used to analyse available evidence in an effort to inform optimal design and scalability of such learning spaces, as well as their potential use in migrant refugee contexts. The importance of refugee ownership and empowerment are emphasised as vectors for ensuring the sustainability of HE spaces in fragile contexts and for fostering creativity and innovation, thereby feeding into the larger framework of Education for All and Sustainable Development Goal 4.

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