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About Refugee Learning Stories

Refugee Learning Stories is an interactive open space created by Gabi Witthaus and Gill Ryan to gather stories and resources around adult refugees who are learning online using mobile technologies. We set up this site because we are curious to find out how and why refugees are learning online. This includes things like participating in WhatsApp groups, using online resources such as YouTube, Wikipedia or Google, and doing online courses. We would like to know what the biggest challenges are, how people are dealing with these challenges, and how learning online makes a difference in people’s lives. We are particularly interested in stories about learners and educators creating new learning spaces and approaches, where learning is a two-way street, where traditional hierarchies are challenged, and where both the learners and the educators are changed through the encounter.

The aim of the site is to enable learners and educators to share these stories by writing in their own words or using images, sound, video or gifs. We also welcome links to any information about online or mobile learning with and for adult refugees, including organisational newsletters, blogs, project reports, articles and presentations.

What we mean by ‘refugees’

We are using the word ‘refugees’ as a shorthand for asylum seekers, refugees and all kinds of displaced people.


If you are an adult refugee or asylum seeker who is learning online, or if you are someone who teaches, mentors or supports learners in such a context, we invite you to share your story about your experiences of learning or teaching online. We are also interested in links to any case studies, videos, reports or other resources you can share.

Your post can contain text, photos, audio files, gifs or videos. To share your story, please go to Write here to start. After you have clicked ‘Final’, your post will come to us (Gill and Gabi) to check before we publish it. If we have to edit it for clarity, we will make a note on the post to say so, but we will try to stay true to your own words.

You can choose to be anonymous, to give yourself a made-up name, or to give your real name. Because this site is published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence, whatever name you give in your contribution is the name that will be used by anyone as attribution, if they use your words in another publication.

Want to contribute? Go to Write here to start!

About us

Gabi Witthaus (@twitthaus) has been researching the experiences of refugees learning online as part of her PhD with Lancaster University. When she is not working on her PhD, she works at the University of Birmingham as a member of the Higher Education Futures institute. Gabi blogs at Art of E-learning.

Gill Ryan (@gill_ie) works at the Open University in Scotland, using open educational resources (OER) to widen participation in education. She works with community and voluntary organisations to engage with groups who may not have access to traditional learning environments, including refugees and asylum seekers.

We met in 2018 while we were both working on a project for the Open University called Refugees’ Educational Resources (RefER), and we subsequently collaborated on a panel presentation for OER19 on Enabling Equity and Inclusion for Asylum Seekers and Refugees through Open Education. We felt there was a need to collate all the resources and narratives around adult refugees learning online in one place; hence Refugee Learning Stories was born in June 2019.

Legal stuff

Refugee Learning Stories is published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence. Because of this, whatever name you give in your contribution is the name that will be used by anyone as attribution, if they use your words in another publication.

For more information about how we use your data, please see our Privacy Policy.


This space was created using Splot by Alan Levine, and was inspired by the wonderful Femedtech Open Space by @lornamcampbell and @francesbell.

The ‘tree of hope’ logo was designed by George Sfougaras as part of his series of prints about refugee journeys.

Screenprint by George Sfougaras of a tree surrounded by calm water

“Tree of hope” by George Sfougaras