LiveBinders Bridges Language and Culture for EU Citizens on the Move

Language and cultural barriers can make finding the resources to migrate highly daunting. With LiveBinders, the European Commission-sponsored Info4Migrants project is organizing language and job information better to help bring talent where it’s needed across the EU.

Migration in the EU

The European Union bridges cultures and languages to forge a single economic area for the continent’s 400 million residents. While the EU has overcome many of the barriers to talent flowing easily across borders, challenges of integration remain. The EU therefore sponsors dozens of programs designed to help make migration easier by providing migrant Europeans with training and resources to help them get accustomed to their new homes.

As the Finnish partner for one such project, the UK-led Info4Migrants, Veronica Gelfgren was tasked with compiling a wealth of resources for migrants to Finland alongside partners focusing on migration in Austria, Sweden, Bulgaria, and Spain. In searching for a platform on which to host these Finnish migration resources, Gelfgren wanted to reduce language and organizational barriers as much as possible, and free users from having to navigate a tangle of links to disparate web pages.

The Problem of Abundance

While most information relevant to migrants is hosted on the web, the resources are spread out across different domains and navigation structures. The problem was not a lack of information, it’s that the right information was obscured in the abundance of information. This not only posed organizational challenges for users of the Finland Info4Migrants project, but also made it difficult to track how often the material was being used, a key component for gauging the project’s success. Gelfgren explained, “For the Finland binder, there is a lot of information available online, but for a foreigner to find it all in English is not that easy. This is the reason we created the LiveBinder, to host the English pages all in one place.”

Endless Possibilities for Collaboration

Before adopting LiveBinders, Gelfgren kept track of Info4Migrants’ web resources with lists of links kept in Microsoft Word documents and with browser bookmarks. While this worked for simple cataloguing, the system reached its limitations when anything had to be shared or worked on by others. With LiveBinders, Gelfgren was able to invite others to contribute resources, opening the project to more information than ever.

While social bookmarking sites like Pearltree and Educlipper also offered this social and collaborative element to organizing resources, Gelfgren found the robustness of the tab-based navigation and the flexibility of LiveBinders made it easier to adopt, and therefore actually implement. Said Gelfgren, “The reactions from the users and my collaborators have been great. When I have presented the binders at meetings, people have been impressed with the possibilities for arranging sets of links. . . My colleagues and I often use the binders as the primary place where we find the tools we need.”

LiveBinders was the only tool Gelfgren tried that was able to bring far-flung web resources together under one roof while offering features that would make tracking views and sharing content straightforward. According to Gelfgren, “LiveBinders was an easier way for me to organize links into a simple system where all the links could be found in one place. LiveBinders was also used as a dissemination channel . . .  When working with EU projects, it is very important to show dissemination evidence, and this was easily done as you show views per binder.”

Accessible to All

Much like the EU itself, Livebinders made it possible to unify very diverse elements under a common purpose. With LiveBinders, Gelfgren was able to bring valuable but scattered resources together for users who might otherwise never benefit from them. Said Gelfgren, “The organizations that create these resources put a lot of time and effort into creating them, and I’m happy to say that, with LiveBinders, I can help them reach the people who need them most.”

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