Among the various applications of Ongoing Journeys is the use of the platform within UK secondary schools, academies and colleges as an educational tool. There are many misconceptions and even myths about refugees and asylum seekers, and many young people may not have the chance to address these issues clearly. Ongoing Journeys aims to provide a virtual space in which to do this.
Development with Schools
Secondary schools have been involved in the development of Ongoing Journeys since the project began through research with students and staff. Students were asked for questions that they would like to ask displaced people in order to better understand their stories and realities, and these questions along with many more have been answered by displaced people themselves within the platform. So it becomes a scaleable ‘virtual meeting place’ through which students can find answers to many previously unanswered questions.
While Ongoing Journeys can in places address some issues which can be quite challenging for young people, such as conflict and racism, its does so is a sensitive manner. The platform focusses on life for displaced people in the UK, and there are no graphic images within the platform. Interactive buttons sometimes lead to statistics or legal issues which are referenced from bodies including the British Home Office, the United Nations, British media outlets and NGO’s such as Amnesty International and the British Refugee Council.
Scaleability, Study Areas and Duration
Since the outset it was always essential that Ongoing Journeys was a scaleable platform that could be used as widely as possible. For this reason, flexibility is essential and Ongoing Journeys has not been designed with specific lesson plans as educational institutes across the UK can have quite different teaching styles, wants and needs.
The platform can be incorporated into a range of practices and study areas within education. In-depth use of the platform can fill weekly study over an entire half-term of student exploration, although some sections of the platform have also been designed as 2-3 minute ‘shorts’ which can work as stand-alone discussion or research points in extra curricula workshops or tutor group sessions – so again, flexibility is paramount.
A ‘Staff Bullet Points’ document is also available to participating institutes. This has been developed as a teaching aid which lays out the main issues addressed within all areas of the project to ensure that staff wishing to focus on specific issues can find them with ease.
User-friendliness and Technology
‘User friendliness’ and accessibility are essential within the platform. It has been designed mirroring technologies that are already familiar to today’s young people, such as standardised play buttons, back and forward arrows and interactive ‘pop-up’ buttons. Therefore staff should not have to ‘teach’ students how to use the platform.
Ongoing Journeys is a password-protected web-based platform so institutes do not need expensive software or add-on applications. Once institutes have joined the project, students simply need access to a computer with internet access and then they can begin to interact with the project.
Approximately 150 school children (Years 7, 8, 9) in different academic institutes took part in a pilot scheme from February-April 2019. Within the pilot scheme, Ongoing Journeys was successfully implemented in both curricula and extra-curricular study areas. Staff reported good levels of student engagement and commented on a noted shift in students’ levels of understanding of the issues and empathy towards displaced people. Across different institutes staff felt that the ideal academic year group differed from Years 7-9. These contrasting findings highlight the need for schools to adapt the use of Ongoing Journeys in relation to their own student body and social and educational contexts.
Staff and student feedback during the pilot scheme led to the addition of an interactive ‘Glossary’ to provide students with an easily accessible reference point for significant words and phrases. The evaluation findings also led to the subtitling of all English language audio in the platform to support students who find it easier to read rather than listen, and also to allow use without headphones if desired.
*All the institutes who participated in the pilot scheme are now discussing the incorporation of Ongoing Journeys into their educational programmes following its public launch in May 2019.
Using Ongoing Journeys within your Educational Institute?
The interactive platform is password protected and is accessed via the login button of this website. Participating institutes are each given individual secure passwords. To find out more or to request the use of Ongoing Journeys within your institute please use the ‘Contact Us’ section of the website.