Future Learning Space
Connected Calais is a Future Learning Space which involves a two staged approach initially using a specific Facebook page called Connected Calais as a social platform and subsequently introducing Google Classroom as a LMS through messenger on the same page. These two e-spaces empower the students to take responsibility for their own learning, facilitated and supported by teachers from all over the world.
Refugees from the Calais ‘Jungle ‘ have been placed on buses and driven to different asylum centres around France. They have spent months, even years living in squalor in a most inhospitable environment where there has been little opportunity for education. They are now separated from friends, from social networks and support systems and must
begin re-establishing themselves in another new environment on their long journey.
How can we support these refugees during this transitional period?
Buses remove refugees from Calais Jungle. Unaccompanied children among the throngs of people.
What’s in my Bag? is a thought provoking article on what refugees actually decide to take with them as they climb aboard rubber rafts and brave the oceans. Technology is predominantly present as it provides perhaps their only link to loved ones in their home countries as well as being a lifeline in their new adopted country. Technology provides learning space, unrestricted by borders that will allow children to access and continue their education while belonging nowhere, waiting in the liminal space ……..awaiting their fate. We are building on what they already know and have experience of.
“We didn’t have time to bring anything. Since we arrived [in Jordan], our family has sent us photos on the phone. This is my mother, Amira, she is still in #Syria. There is no network coverage where she stays so we have not spoken in three months.” — Warda, 26
The need for MOBILE e-learning space is obvious given the movement of the refugees to the various centres across France. Connected Calais is an e-learning space which will organically grow and flourish over time as it meets the needs of the refugees who join the group. It also allows teachers from all over the world to collaborate professionally. Refugees can follow their dreams, can engage in education through the use of Connected Calais Facebook page and through Google Classroom.
Two of my own children are the same ages as some of the unaccompanied children in the Calais Jungle. It is heart breaking to think of them alone fending for themselves in this cruel ‘ no man’s land’. What do they do when they’re sick? How do they stay safe at night? There’s no ‘good night kiss’ in this liminal space. How can we let them know that we care and are there to help in whatever way and by whatever means we can? Connected Calais Facebook page can provide them with a lifeline, providing them with relevant information and emotional support, an online family . Given that 129 children went missing in April 2016 when the southern Calais camp was destroyed, it is vital that these children build up an online support network in the absence of family members.
Through the use of Connected Calais Facebook page a network of connections can be made which will initially help families to re-connect and seek support from friends from the Calais camp, as they settle in their new destinations. Facebook plays an important social function as it provides the opportunity for children to post examples of their work, photos of their new homes, share information, pose and answer questions through Messenger .
Using Facebook messenger, groups of learners can be created based on their specific needs and preferences. Through collaboration, members of the group can highlight areas of academic or social support that they may require.
Once groups are established, Google Classroom is introduced and the learning begins. Tutorials and links on how to access Google Classroom are published through Connected Calais Facebook page or messenger. This initial process will promote a Community of Practice as students engage in shared interests and experiences. Students may then wish to avail of other online social media to communicate and collaborate. E.g Twitter, Instagram.
What is Google Classroom?
Google classroom is a free web-based platform that makes it easy to create classes, distribute assignments, communicate, and stay organised. It is an online learning management system where you can communicate with your learners, provide them with constructive feedback whenever they needed it, streamline the sharing of classroom documents and assignments as well as promote Project Based Learning. Other teachers can be invited to coordinate classes. This broadens the range of subjects, languages and age groups that can be facilitated as well as promoting professional dialogue.
“Critical thinking skills and problem solving are essential skills for the 21st century. To get there we must ensure that students can demonstrate their abilities through ICT’s, collaboration, creativity and communication skills so that they can work successfully in a 21st century information centric world.” ( Teachers Without Borders)
Google Classroom is an ideal Learning Management System to enable refugee children to continue their education because it is mobile and accessible anywhere and anytime on iOS, Chrome and Android devices.
Teachers and students can access Docs, Sheets, Slides, and other G Suite for Education tools directly from Classroom. In addition resources such as videos and links to iBooks, websites, quizzes, blogs and any form of digital content can be added to support academic content.
Parents, teachers and other professionals can enage in professional development using this platform, further broadening the support network and educational opportunities for the students.
Connected Calais Learning Spaces
The benefits of the e-space are its immediacy and its flexibility. It is a space that students are already familiar and comfortable with. It provides opportunities for students to connect and collaborate, supported by an eCommunity of Practice. This eCoP provides the reassurance and support needed to help students experience success and thus engagement.
The Personal Space allows for students to progress at their own pace, taking responsibility for and directing their own learning. Students can believe in their abilities to learn, having the power to change the course of their own future.