Higher Education at the Margins – Success Criteria for Blended Learning Systems for Marginalized Communities


Providing access to higher education for people in marginalized communities, in particular for refugees, requires to re-think the traditional ways of teaching and learning in higher education institutions. The challenges of these circumstances both in terms of access to learning materials and the opportunity to collaboratively learn with others require specific support via appropriate didactical settings. Blended learning arrangements, i.e., settings that bring together online learning activities with synchronous, co-located settings show potential for addressing these requirements. In the present study, we examine the success factors in the design of blended learning settings for supporting higher education in marginalized communities. Based on an established model of blended learning success, we explore the specific challenges of the target group via a survey which was distributed to students of different subject areas and of the higher education programs of Jesuit Worldwide Learning. The 80 survey participants analyzed in this paper live in refugee camps, or marginalized areas located in rural and remote areas in Afghanistan, Guyana, India, Iraq, Kenya, Malawi, Myanmar, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Thailand. While we could confirm the success factors that also apply for blended learning scenarios in traditional settings, we also found evidence for the crucial role of facilitation in both, online and co-located learning phases, and challenges regarding the access to suitable infrastructure. Both need to be considered during design of blended learning programs for this target group.

Education and Information Technologies
Stefan Oppl
Stefan Oppl
Professor for Technology Enhanced Learning

My research interests include technology-enhanced learning, socio-technical systems design and HCI