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Education, Technology and the RELIEF Centre

Professor Diana Laurillard describes the potential role of technology in providing education in the context of mass-displacement
My name is Diana Laurillard, and my role at the university is I’m professor of Learning with Digital Technology. So my role in the RELIEF Centre is to bring what we can do with digital technology into the aims of the research project. Our research theme is future education. Because the role that we’re playing in the RELIEF Centre is to look at how we can help millions of migrant peoples all over the world with what it means to restructure their lives wherever they are in their host country and even to rebuild their lives when they go back to their own country. And this is a very large-scale educational problem. So we look at technology to help us with solving that problem.
One of the results of mass displacement is that those communities are very seriously impacted by not having any access to education. So you have children who’ve had years without education, young people who are ready to go to university, but have not had the preparation for it. And what we look for in educational technology particularly is ways in which we can counter those kinds of effects by doing education on the large scale. We may not be able to get directly to the student, but if we can get to local adults who can help those students, then we’ve really done something important.
One of the important things we have to think about as we’re doing research is that we don’t know all the answers. We go in there to learn from the community in very important ways because they know the impact on them of these new kinds of provisions or new ways of working. So by involving the community in the research process, it means that they are then able to take further some of those opportunities and practises that we’re developing together. When the research then stops, that action, those mechanisms, can still be there. So we’re building in sustainability of those changes that the researcher’s able to make. So it’s much more impactful in the long term. That’s the idea of co-designing research.
[INAUDIBLE] One of the reasons we’re bringing technology into the work that we’re doing with education and relief is that technology can work on a large scale. And in the problem of so many migrant peoples moving around the world, which means that both adults and children are missing out on educational opportunities, we have to look for large-scale technological solutions to that. That’s the role we play.

The RELIEF Centre explores ways of building prosperous lives for people in the context of displacement. Professor Diana Laurillard is leading the strand of this project which examines the potential use of technology in delivering education in this context.

As part of our work in the RELIEF Centre the Future Education team will be co-designing online and blended courses to develop the skills of community researchers and help improve teachers’ professional development. We are focusing especially on disadvantaged communities, such as refugees and low-income groups, where local professionals need additional support to meet local challenges, and where volunteer teachers may not have had sufficient teacher training in the specific demands of educating vulnerable children.

We hope that working with local professionals in an online collaborative dialogue could provide a model for scaling up education that will be applicable to many other contexts, particularly those that are experiencing the mass displacement of people, and need to increase the provision and quality of education quickly.

Would you like to take part in an optional research study?

If you would like to be kept up-to-date with the work of the Future Education team, or are working in education or community support in Lebanon, where education and training is needed, please consider helping us to develop the appropriate curriculum and format for courses of this kind. The research team would offer ideas for consultation, proposals for the kinds of resources and activities to be included in the courses, and their links to existing university or training courses and accreditation. You can register your interest, make enquiries, or get involved in the project by completing this form.

Please note that this is an independent project carried out by UCL RELIEF Centre and your participation is subject to the University’s own policies and terms. FutureLearn takes no responsibility for the contents or the consequences of your participation in this study. Your participation in the research has no effect on your course progress, marks or FutureLearn profile.

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