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Mobile Digital Learning Lab

A Mobile Digital Learning Lab for Refugees and the local community on Samos, Greece.

Photo of Movement on the Ground
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What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

In 2019 alone 26,767 refugees arrived in Greece as they fled their homes from war and violence. People are still arriving daily on the coasts of the islands, arrivals are from Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan and Iraq to name a few. Samos is one of the islands that is receiving many of the refugees. Here the situation is dire. The camp at Vathy on Samos has capacity for 700 people and reports have stated that there are now around 3000 refugees registered here. Many of these people live in the Jungle surrounding the official camp. The Jungle has no facilities and people are forced to create their own shelters. The main problem here is that people struggle to fulfill their basic needs. Activities however are also important. What our experience has taught us is that it is important to start as soon as possible with providing people with purposeful activities. The lack of activities is due to a number of different factors. There are only a few actors on the island of Samos. Although more actors are arriving their has been a very limited response on the Island of Samos. Second due to the political situation in Greece and the current camp management of Vathy is very strict with its access to the camp. The project we want to implement on Samos is a Mobile Digital Learning Lab (DLL). We want to create a mobile environment where people can learn or build on their existing skills. We will provide laptops and a curriculum taught by a local Greek teacher that will put people back in control of their personal development. Ultimately they will be linked up to a skills building platform created by IBM through which they can gain access to the online labour markets. An important part of this project is that we want to open it up to Refugees and the local Greek community so we create a safe space where people can meet and learn alongside each other. By having a Mobile lab we will be able to access many more places and reach more people.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

This project will be implemented on the Greek island of Samos near the refugee camp that is currently located on the outskirts of the city of Vathy. The communities that will be included in this project are the refugees that have arrived on the island of Samos, according to UNHCR the majority of the arrivals are from Afghanistan, Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo. We will also include the local Greek population. We want to include both these communities to bring them closer together.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

This project aims to put refugees and the Greek community in direct contact with each other. We will have 20 places in our mobile DLL and the aim is to have 10 refugee and 10 Greek students sharing the space at any given time. We will also employ a Greek teacher. By creating the opportunity to improve digital skills and access to the labor market for both communities we will create shared opportunity and break down the barriers that exist between these two communities.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

Our mobile DLL will give refugees and the Greek community the opportunity to gain new digital skills and open up new employability opportunities. The mobile DLL will teach them new skills which means they can grow and are put back in control of their personal development and we return dignity to them. This creates hope and purpose. Just as important as the refugee community is the Greek community. Greece has been hit hard by the economic crisis and the subsequent arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees. By including this community in the Mobile DLL they will be given the same opportunities to learn new digital skills and also gain access to a new labor market, returning dignity and hope to a community that often feels forgotten. As important as the learning of new skills is the bringing together of these new communities and creating an environment where both communities can connect and talk, learn about each other. This will create mutual respect and tolerance.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

We have experienced the impact our DLL can have through our experiences on the island of Lesvos. The sense of purpose a project like this creates and the joy it can give to students of all ages means that tensions within communities resolve. A sense of hope is created when students learn new skills which are easily transferable as they move to new places. Also the fact that students are taken out of the camp environment for a short period of time is of great benefit to them. By having a Mobile DLL we will be able to reach more people and have a larger impact. We will know we are having a positive impact when we see people returning and new people participating.

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

The inspiration of this idea comes from our partnership with Harvard University. They made a needs assessment and proposed the idea of a Digital Learning Lab while they were working with us on Lesvos. The world is a digital place and digital skills are crucial today. Therefor the DLL was created. A safe environment where students of all ages could learn how to use an English laptop and expand their digital skill set. People on the move live in much uncertainty. Often there is a lack in opportunity for people to expand and invest their personal skill set. This is what we aim to tackle to create an activity where people can expand their own skill set and therefore are able to create new opportunities for themselves. People on the move crave a need to be purposeful and want to work towards a future how uncertain that may be. Building a digital skill set will also help them to integrate into their new countries.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

The dynamics of the communities we will be implementing this project in are complex. There is the Greek community who has seen their country overrun with hundreds of thousands of refugees since 2015. This all happened at a time when Greece was dealing with a financial crisis. The refugee community in itself is also complex. As these people have come from many different places and are now being forced together in a country they do not know, with much insecurity about the future. When you add the trauma these people carry with them it does sometimes create tensions between the refugee population. There are also tensions between the refugee and Greek populations. The Greek community has been receiving refugees for nearly 5 years now and have seen their land taken over by these people with no concrete solution in the near future and they feel left behind.

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

People are resilient and ultimately want to be productive. The Mobile DLL will take advantage of this and support people in their personal development and help them regain purpose and become productive again. Personal development will contribute to the overall community. When individuals feel productive and purposeful they are happier this breaks down tensions within a community which will benefit the overall community.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

We will be working with our existing partners at Harvard University and IBM. Harvard University has worked with us to develop the DLL on the island of Lesvos, this has been so successful that we now run this at 5 different locations and are able to export the template to other locations, Samos will be the first mobile DLL and will follow the project implementation as on Lesvos. We have recently partnered with IBM and they are developing a skills building platform with us to expand the potential of the DLL. We are currently implementing the project on Lesvos and will be expanding to Samos at the same time as the DLL.

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Being on the move, crossing borders, and/or temporarily settled

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Platform: Creating a community or market that facilitates interaction between users and resources

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Full Scale Roll Out: We have already tested and scaled this idea significantly with the intended user base (i.e. when innovation has reached 84% or above of the target population or above 1,000,000 users).

Group or Organization Name

Movement on the Ground

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

Movement on the Ground is a Dutch NGO that works in Greece to respond to the current refugee crisis wherever we can. Through structural, financial and voluntary support we aim to improve the conditions for thousands of refugees. We examine a situation and identify needs not being met. We aim to fulfill these needs through our extensive network of partners. Our vision is to create a blueprint for future refugee camps that will make camps more dignified, self-sustainable using innovative concepts and, most importantly, it is about empowering the camp residents. This is our Camp to CampUs philosophy and is what all our work and projects are directed towards. We started our operation in 2015/2016 on the island of Lesvos and as of January 2019 we have expanded to the island of Samos.

Website URL:

Type of submitter

  • We are a registered Non-Profit Organization

Organization Headquarters: Country

The Netherlands

Organization Headquarters: City / State



Join the conversation:

Photo of Uchenna Okafor

Hi Movement on the Ground! It is great to innovate to develop refugees, instead of lament their inconveniences and liability. Yes, nice to fine-tune their skills for productivity in their new territory. Perhaps, they will make another industrial and technological revolution. If increasing number of immigrants is completely bad, why will U.S.A grant Visas through lottery to thousands of people for many years. For me, increasing population becomes bad where they do not correlate with economic growth due to lack of skilled manpower and productivity. Even China with a population of about 1.385Billion people is still flying very high among committee of countries with almost full employment of human and material resources. So, superlative congrats for thinking outside the box.

Photo of Zeynep Aykul

Hi Movement on the Ground , it is great to hear such a nice project from a neigboor. You can check our previous project InnoCampus ( ). Now, we are focusing on Istanbul Tech Accelerator for Refugees and Locals  projects with our insight and experience from InnoCampus. If there is any area we can collaborate, please contact us. Memet Unsal Durmu┼ƒ Sabuncu 

Photo of Anna Fontanini

HI Madeleine Hessing ,
Great idea! Really like it!
So what exactly do you teach to the people in Samos? And do you have both women and men among the beneficiaries?

Photo of Movement on the Ground

Hi Anna, We will have different courses starting with the absolute basics of typing classes and learning the English keyboard and settings. Students will then develop further into more advanced digital skills like coding etc. The classes will be open to anyone, women and men and children.

Photo of Mahmoud Rihawi

Hello, I am a mentor at OpeIDEO,
I really liked your idea. I think it is very important to involve the refugees of Samos and make them develop their skills and using their minds while most of them probably feel very stuck in their state of refuge. I also like the idea of a mobile lab.
However, I am just wondering what is it exactly that you are teaching? Will there be different levels of courses such as digital beginner courses up to advanced coding classes? Because if there aren't any classes that go beyond basic digital knowledge how can you then guarantee that people will find jobs. Another question would be how you are dealing with language differences? Will the courses be in English or Greek and do you provide greek courses to elevate peoples chances for finding local jobs?
How do you choose the refugees who are participating in the courses?
I am very excited about your project and wish you all the best in developing it.

Photo of Movement on the Ground

Hi Mahmoudi, Thank you for your comments. Their will indeed be different level courses thaught so people can advance from beginner to advanced. We have already quite some experience with this program on Lesvos where we the class is headed by a Greek teacher in English who will be supported by translators. We will of course have to see how much interest their will be for these courses and how many sessions we can run. So we will work with sign up sheets to track the interest.

Photo of Johannes Cornelis van Nieuwkerk

Dear Madeleine,

Great project! On one side are our activities complements of each other (my main goal is to get the people relocated) but on the other side we have a strong digital learning component in common, I wish you success!

Kind Regards from Budapest,

Hans van Nieuwkerk

Photo of Archiebold Manasseh

I have a similar idea; in regards to seeing education as a key pillar of future generation... all the best!