Module 1 Weblog: E-Learning in Rural Indigenous Communities

I’m still in the process of deciding how I would like to narrow my research. At the moment, I am thinking of focusing on the benefits and/or disadvantages of e-Learning for Indigenous students. When I signed up for this course, it was my hope that I would gain some insight into how e-Learning opportunities could be offered to remote indigenous communities. I currently work in a post-secondary institution in a Continuing Education non-credit department, where a lot of our students are already within industry, but come to us to advance their skill set. Also, we get a lot of adult students that are looking for a career change, but don’t have the time, resources, or past credentials to enroll in a full-time credit diploma or degree program. I’ve now worked in my department for over two years, and although our primary audience (from what I see) is the middle-aged professional adult learner, we have very limited options for distance education, and especially for indigenous communities. After learning of the tragedy that continues of basically forcing children to leave their land and families to attend high school and even post-secondary, I kept thinking to myself: there must be a way to offer better educational resources while allowing Indigenous people to remain on their land. To me, this need to leave reserves for education still mirrors some of the issues that were faced by children in residential schools. My interest in this topic was intensified after reading “After the Makah Whale Hunt Indigenous Knowledge and Limits to Multicultural Discourse” when I learned how important land is to Indigenous identity, and I learned of the term “place based culture.”

Here are the first five of the resources I have found related to this topic:

1. Failing Canada’s First Nations Children (Video)

This video further spiked my interest in exploring the need for e-Learning in rural Indigenous communities. Although this video doesn’t specifically focus on e-Learning, it focuses on the separation rural Indigenous Communities face in having to send students into larger “hub” cities to attend High School. These students generally live with strangers, and they suffer loneliness, depression, racism, etc. In many rural Indigenous communities (this film primarily discusses rural Northern Ontario communities) students are faced with the choice after grade eight of either staying home with their families and not attending High School, or leaving their family and their land to attend High School alone. The video comments on how not offering quality education within rural Indigenous communities is racial discrimination against children, and racial discrimination shouldn’t be a public policy that’s tolerated just to save money.

This makes me wonder what e-Learning could offer in helping Indigenous communities to stay together, and not be separated by lack of resources.

 2. Post-Secondary Distance Education in a Contemporary Colonial Context: Experiences of Students in a Rural First Nation in Canada

This article talks about post-secondary distance education and some of the challenges that need to be faced for successful implementation and adoption of e-Learning in remote regions. This article also reports on student experiences. Additionally, this article discusses the importance of giving First Nations people the opportunity to stay on their land in order to mitigate government efforts to remove them from their land to exploit resources. Finally, the article discusses the technology available to rural communities, and the benefits and drawbacks of these technologies.

 3. Online University Education in Canada: Challenges and Opportunities

This report was funded by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. Although this report focuses on Human Resource Development, this report does touch on the fact that “…one of the greatest potential areas for incurring both long-term economic and social benefits is by investing in online education created and provided in cooperation with Aboriginal communities” (p. 19). It also addressed some of the barriers still faced by Indigenous communities in offering successful online learning.

4. The effectiveness of web-delivered learning with aboriginal students: Findings from a study in coastal Labrador

This article explores perspectives of e-Learning for Indigenous students in coastal communities in Labrador. It discusses the learning needs of Indigenous students and the “…achievement issues that continue to characterize aboriginal populations.” Additionally, it also discusses the opportunities and unique challenges that rural communities face with e-Learning.

5. Distance Education in Remote Aboriginal Communities: Barriers, Learning Styles and Best Practices

This book discusses some of the challenges faced in deploying successful distance education courses. Although this book was published in 2003, it still offers a good insight into what education specialists, Metis, First Nation, and Inuit Organizations believe are the challenges communities face in implementing e-Learning. It touches on how it is important to recognize individual community and student needs, and not only common Indigenous needs across all of Canada. The book discusses issues related to cost, politics, and the “…perception that distance education is a second-rate option” (p. 8). This book discusses specific communities that have had distance education successes.

References
Marker, M. (2006). After the makah whale hunt: Indigenous knowledge and limits to multicultural discourse. Urban Education, 41(5), 482-505.

One comment

  1. I really enjoyed watching your 1st video. I liked that it was narrated by an Indigenous elderly woman. It was quite informational and I definitely connected to it on a emotional level, something that our Week 4 readings has emphasized.

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