Stanford officials and volunteers collected about 100 accounts from children in the West Bank.

Stanford officials and volunteers collected about 100 accounts from children in the West Bank.

The stories are harrowing, but Elizabeth Buckner hopes sharing accounts of the tension among Palestinians and Israelis with the help of mobile devices will offer perspective to children from both sides and promote understanding in the volatile region.

Buckner, a doctoral student at Stanford University’s School of Education, heads a group of volunteers who collect everyday stories from children who detail their experiences in disputed areas, road checkpoints, and border regions between Israel and Palestine.

The kids’ stories will be recorded and downloaded onto mobile devices that will be distributed at schools in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Buckner said the children’s stories—which range from details of family gatherings and sporting events to close calls with Israeli soldiers—soon will be available as a free iPhone application.

“Our idea is to use technology to think about how to help, not just academically,” said Buckner, 26, who finished her second year in Stanford’s doctoral program this spring. “We want to take a big-picture approach to how technology can meet social problems and social needs. And this is an area of the world with so much need.”

The handheld education-technology devices—called TeacherMates, from the Illinois-based nonprofit Innovations for Learning (IFL)—double as video game players loaded with lessons in reading and basic math, among other subjects. They also have a built-in microphone for students to record their stories in their own voices. Each unit costs about $100 per student, and Stanford’s School of Education has partnered with IFL to bring TeacherMates to indigent rural communities around the globe…

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