Technology Resource Guide

Smartphones play an important role in the lives of immigrants as they offer connection to the internet and to family abroad, to maps and sharing of GPS coordinates, and to apps that ease communication and information sharing between refugees and aid organizations. Devices like cellphones and cameras are also essential tools for communication and documentation in contemporary life around the world. We speak with Collective Threads participants about the role technology plays in their lives and how that role has changed with their move to Canada, as well as other ways in which newcomers access information.

In the featured interviews, we hear from participants who have arrived recently in Canada; they speak to the important role that mobile apps have played in connecting to family and friends back home as well as developing new social networks in Canada. We also hear from participants who came decades ago; they describe the importance of local library systems to access new information before the ubiquity of the internet. One participant contrasts the ways in which knowledge is conveyed in different cultures, noting how the inclination in Western society is to
reach for a book or go on the internet whereas in developing countries people pass on information through storytelling, hands-on instruction and intergenerational interaction.

The videos also demonstrate how important technology careers have become within Canadian society in recent years. We hear from an IT specialist who describes why he decided to start his own consulting business. He speaks about the importance of tinkering and learning on the job, as well as keeping up with new technologies.

Discussion Questions

  1. As a newcomer, do any of the stories featured in this module resonate with your own experience? Why or why not?
  2. Besides the internet, how do you access new information? Do you use the same means to access new information as you did in your country of origin?
  3. What are the challenges you face in communicating with family and friends back home? Imagine a new app that would help you to overcome these problems and describe its features.
  4. Technology is playing a significant role in the Syrian refugee crisis. Choose one of the articles featured in Related Resources and summarize it for the rest of the group. Make a list of the different technologies being used.
  5. Create a timeline to illustrate how technology has evolved over the course of your lifetime, or over a period of 25, 50 or 100 years. Try creating separate timelines for technology associated with entertainment or communication. Are there any technologies that fall on both timelines?
  6. What are the benefits, costs and risks inherent in using new technologies?

Related Resources

Tools and Services:

  • WhatsApp is a service used by people in more than 180 countries offering secure messaging and calling around the world. www.whatsapp.com
  • Meetup.com facilitates the connection of people that have common interests. Some examples of meetups are The Chinese-Japanese Friendship Society, TorontoBabel International Language Exchange, Toronto Women’s Data Group and Toronto Trail Runners. www.meetup.com

Technology Professions:

  • The Canadian Technology Immigration Network offers career information, help with certification, and programs and assistance to encourage the successful entry of immigrants into Canada’s technology industries.
    www.ctin.ca/en/immigrant-services
  • The Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) is a not-for-profit whose mission is to strengthen Canada’s digital advantage in a global economy by empowering a talented and diverse digital workforce. www.ictc-ctic.ca

Access to information:

  • Toronto Public Library has a New To Canada page that helps you find library materials and services in your language. The page’s blog has recommendations of books that reflect the experiences of refugees and immigrants and notifications of events happening in Toronto and at the library.
    torontopubliclibrary.typepad.com/new_to_canada
  • Digital Innovation Hubs are workspaces located at three Toronto Public Library Branches (Toronto Reference Library, Fort York, Scarborough Civic Centre) that offer free access to technology (such as 3D printers) and training. www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/using-the-library/computer-services/innovation-spaces

Links to some interesting articles on the role technology is playing in the Syrian refugee crisis: