In the summer of 2015, a group of Pearson College London students convened to complete a business challenge, set out by Pearson CEO John Fallon: "Develop a "university of the future" solution that could allow higher education to adapt to a rising volume of students in a way that is inclusive and realistic, and explain what role Pearson could have in supporting it."
Six groups of business students spent a full day designing and describing their original solution. Their imaginary solutions spanned the spectrum: from online learning modules for urban students, to text message-based learning lessons for rural African villages. Each team presented their ideas and supporting research to a board, and had their concepts judged. Their concepts were jaw-droppingly good...so much so that the group decided to take the challenge one step further. What would happen if they could actually bring an education solution to life? And what if they could use it to help real people in some way?
Over the past seven months, a small sub-set of Pearson College London students have convened monthly to discuss real-life challenges in global education, and decide upon a target market/audience for their solution. It was difficult to ignore that, as they sat in their meeting room, millions of Syrian refugees were struggling with one of the worst humanitarian crises in recent history, and were attempting to integrate into a completely new culture and way of life. The students posed the following question: "What if we could build a tool that could help Syrian refugees integrate into German culture more easily?"
With the support of a few Pearson colleagues, the students have now prototyped a language-learning solution to be used in German refugee camps. The concept is simple: printed and strategically placed posters in refugee camps featuring a URL/QR code (many refugees have smart phones) will allow refugees to quickly access a website where they can easily, and entirely through mobile, read, translate and listen to hundreds of commonly used German words and phrases. From "Where is the nearest bus stop?" to "My child is sick and needs medicine", the students have translated a wide spectrum of words that are both practical and allow for immersive language learning.
The solution will first be tested at the refugee camp on Konrad Adenauer Strasse, in Ingelheim-am-Rhein, where thousands of refugees are being housed for periods of 1-6 months, as they await more permanent housing solutions. What better use of their time in transition than to learn their adopted home's native language? Our Pearson College London students are delighted to present this prototype education solution to the camp's administrator, Jamie, who has expressed great interest in using it, and they hope that they will be able to replicate it at camps throughout Germany.