App allows students to experience the journey of Syrian refugees

Transformative Learning | Strategy 13: Practical Learning
Theme: Innovation
Senior Instructor Siobhán McPhee promotes practical learning in her classes
Senior Instructor Siobhán McPhee promotes practical learning in her classes

Dr. Siobhán McPhee, a Senior Instructor in UBC’s Department of Geography, is using technology to evoke empathy and help students understand the emotional consequences of the Syrian Civil War. Through an augmented reality (AR) cellphone app called Journey With Me, she invited her GEOG 498: Geographies in the Middle East students to experience the travel journeys of five real-life Syrians who were forced to escape their country.

Journey With Me is a gamified experience, meaning users can actively follow the routes that refugees took, and even make tough decisions that will define the rest of the journey — whether it’s running away from bombs or trying, anxiously, to cross a border. “I want students to be immersed in an experience which will create connections and empathy,” said Dr. McPhee.

Dr. McPhee also uses online tools, activities and experiential learning techniques to deliver Geography content in other courses. Her work is an example of how UBC is focused on expanding Strategy 13: Practical Learning opportunities throughout the university.

Learn more about Journey With Me and how it’s changing the learning environment at UBC.

“Augmented Reality is taking teaching and learning outside the four walls of the classroom, lab, or tutorial, and allowing learning to take place anywhere.”

Siobhán McPhee
Senior Instructor, Department of Geography