Participants applied in teams of two - five computer scientists, engineers, and designers all of whom have an interest in applying their technical skills to the real world problems facing refugee learners. We looked for teams with a good mix of technical and design experience, commitment to some of the countries most affected by the Syrian refugee crisis, and a strong interest in the potential of digital tools to change the way that education is provided. They didn't necessarily need to have a concrete idea at this point: we launched the Accelerator with an online course to help them understand the problem and make connections.The course was structured around three design challenges focused on Human Centered Design, language learning and augmented reality, and the use of messaging apps in educational contexts. The course was hosted on GitLab, Mattermost and Unhangout. You can view our course materials here.
Fourteen teams which had shown the greatest progress and had the promise to take their ideas further, were invited to a workshop in Amman, Jordan. Over the course of eight days, teams visited NGOs, discussed their ideas with experts, participated in seminars, built preliminary prototypes, and pitched their project to a panel of guests and their peers. The focus was on identifying a specific problem and finding an appropriate solution. We emphasized collaboration and community over competition.
You can learn more about the projects our teams developed here. In addition, if you're interested in running a similar workshop, you will find the workshop schedule; presentations on the business model canvas, user testing, pitching; and other materials.
Following the workshop, teams had the opportunity to apply for a small grant to continue the development and field testing. We selected six teams to continue development, including taking their prototypes into the field and test them with users.