In October 2017 the Massachusetts Institute of Technology´s Media Labs launched the first ever Refugee Learning Accelerator (RLA) in order to stimulate young design and computer science talent from the Middle East to come up with new innovative ways to use technology for the purpose of helping refugees to learn. LAL’s employees Yorgui Beylouni, Patrick Habib and Florian Müller signed up as Team Alternative with a strong motivation to further their skills and knowledge by immersive themselves in a six week online learning experience given by the MIT Media Labs team led by Philipp Schmidt, Geneviève Barrons and others out of Cambridge Massachusetts. Not only where they happily accepted into the first stage, after six weeks of intensive online learning and a journey that made them experiment with amongst others a Chat Bot assessing student’s learning levels (that you can find on LAL’s website and an Augmented Reality card game the team got one of the cherished invitations to come to Amman to meet both the RLA team and the other talented teams for a week of ideation, co-creation and above all brain crushing thinking and brainstorming during the RLA workshop.

The workshop exceeded all expectations. While the team’s ideas went through a rollercoaster of feedback, brainstorming, more feedback and completely redesigning many times over, the endresults as presented in compact 4-minute pitches were impressive. We are very thankful Based on this week, teams were able to apply for funding to test their ideas in the third stage of the accelerator. The project of the Alternative, called Portable Interconnected E-learning Solution (PIES) is an improved version of the Tabshoura Box, still based on the Raspberry Pi but with GSM and WiFi interconnectivity between boxes and able to run several e-learning programs from the same device.

Recently MIT Media Labs announced the start of the third phase of the accelerator and LAL is very proud to announce that LAL will help The Alternative to test PIES for the Refugee Learning Accelerator, because the proposal Yorgui, Patrick and Florian sent in got selected for funding! Preparations have already started and the project is expected to last between May and August. Among the challenges faced will be field tests in Bekaa, programming a user interface and making the PIES connect to each other. Both LAL and The Alternative team look very much forward to the challenge! We will regularly post updates on the progress.