The role of MOOCs and OERs as effective resources for social inclusion of disadvantaged groups has been greatly emphasized in recent years due to the increased numbers of refugees and migrants, especially in European societies. A recent study carried out by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission on free digital learning (FDL) opportunities for migrants and refugees identified some key features for the development of effective FDL resources devoted to disadvantaged groups: the necessity to integrate the online learning with blended and face-to-face learning, the need to target the courses’ content to migrants/refugees profiles, the focus on language learning (JRC, 2017). In providing an in-depth analysis of different initiatives, carried out mainly in higher education and related to online resources development, the study stressed the lack of specific data on participation and completion of the courses. These data are deemed crucial for a comprehensive understanding of how the target group approaches and uses FDL and its effects on learning and social inclusion. In this view, the ReGap project (Reducing the Education Gap, ref. 2017-1-NO01-KA204-034182) in developing and trialling open access e-learning resources for adult migrants and refugees, can contribute to shedding light on the strengths and limitations related to issues raised in the JRC study. The Regap online courses were created in order to foster employment opportunities and social belonging and present country-specific information about work, health, social security, education and systems of justice and regulations. In line with the considerations arisen from the JRC report, the online resources also envisage face-to-face activities, to be carried out with students by teachers/educators/cultural facilitators. The partners involved in the project, led by INN University, are LUMSA University (Italy), Porto University (Portugal) and CDI (Macedonia). The course developed by LUMSA research team was centred on employment issues and aimed at providing refugees and migrants with information and linguistic tools on the most relevant topics related to job finding and regulations: from the CV to job ads, from permanent contracts to dismissal. In addition to the online resources, the course on employment envisaged a blended activity on employment centres. This contribution is focused on the results of the field trials of the ReGap employment course carried out in Italy at the Astalli Centre in Rome and in several SPRAR centres (a network of local entities that are in charge of implementing hosting projects) in southern Italy. The trials have involved more than 50 refugees and asylum seekers. Results confirmed the relevance of the face-to-face activities in motivating and fostering learning and social integration among peers. The online activities were considered by many users a valuable tool in relation to employment issues but the low levels of ICT skills have often represented an obstacle that prevented students from full use of the resources. While the difficulty of the language was considered appropriate for the Italian target group (mainly with A1 and A2 levels in Italian language), the trials highlighted the lack of a full adaptation to the diverse refugees and asylum seekers profiles, with this stressing one of the main challenges for providing targeted educational opportunities for disadvantaged people.

DOI: 10.21125/edulearn.2019.1439
ISSN: 2340-1117
ISBN: 9788409120314