Educational apps entertain, improve literacy among Syrian refugee children
Some 2.5 million Syrian children have been displaced by the civil war that’s ripped its way across the country. Among the many things this violence has stolen from these children, access to adequate education has flown quietly under the radar. However, mobile educational apps could help restore a brighter future.
With that goal in mind, VentureBeat reported that EduApp4Syria has put $1.7 million up for grabs in a contest that pits mobile game developers against each other in an effort to make education fun and accessible to refugee children. Alf Inge Wang, professor of computer science at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, took the lead role as overseer of development and judging.
In all, 78 apps rose to the challenge and underwent an extensive, multistage judging process through which only a handful emerged. Throughout development, each team received funding to sustain its efforts. Not losing sight of the end goal, Syrian refugees were fully incorporated in the process as the perfect candidates for user testing.
Mobile apps with a dual purpose
The UNESCO Mobile Learning Week Conference served as an appropriate stage to announce the winners. The conference, which counted humanitarian groups as a large portion of attendees, crowned “Feed the Monster” and “Antura & The Letters” as champions. Both apps are games that focus on improving literacy among the 2.5 million child refugees. As Inge Wang would say, they “find the sweet spot between learning and having fun.”
In “Feed the Monster,” kids learn to read and write in Arabic while venturing out and raising their own collection of cuddly monsters. “Antura & The Letters” teaches literacy head-on by presenting it in a fun, animated virtual world. Both games prove the notion that mobile apps — educational apps in this case — can offer far more than the simple entertainment they provide.
Mobile applications have provided a much broader platform to reach an equally broad audience. With a little “out-of-the-box” thinking — as shown by the winners of EduApp4Syria — mobile solutions can provide education, entertainment and just about anything else for audiences. With the tools available to mobile developers, the only limit is the extent of their imagination.