Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Urban Education


Juan Battle

Committee Members

Anthony Picciano

Steve Brier

Subject Categories

Education | Higher Education | Humane Education | International and Comparative Education | Online and Distance Education


Kepler, Blended Learning, International Higher Education


Drawing on theories documenting the advantages and disadvantages of the growing Black middle class, this dissertation examines how higher education functions in creating a middle class citizenry in developing countries. The underlying premise of this dissertation is understanding how technology and education operate in tandem to simultaneously alleviate and perpetuate economic as well as social inequalities. Therefore, this project will contribute to research on the growing Black middle class in the developing world, and will offer insight into a “blueprint” of how technology and education operate in tandem.

This dissertation is a case study—employing mixed methods (quantitative and qualitative) approaches—examination of Kepler, a new, innovative university in Kigali, Rwanda. All data utilized is retroactive and is publicly available--it was previously collected in a study conducted by IDinsight. The quantitative data includes performance on three academic tests. A series of statistical analyses was conducted to highlight how the key variables function differently for multiple types of students (e.g., males vs. females). A thorough case study of Kepler highlights how technology is utilized and thus impacts educational outcomes. Interviews and previously recorded observations will be utilized to understand the educational experiences and outcomes of students at Kepler.

Anyon’s neo-Marxist theories of work, class, gender, and the political economy, Bourdieu’s theories on multiple forms of capital and language as a mechanism of power, bell hook’s feminist perspectives, and Fanon’s post-colonial theories serve as the theoretical framework for this dissertation. The findings from this study will help to inform educators, policymakers, as well as local, national, and international NGOs invested in better understanding the link between development, education, and nation building.