Author Archives: Nicola Einarson

Tribally Controlled Education (refined topic)/ Technology-Enhanced Language Revitalization (initial topic)

EDIT!

After some deep reflection this week regarding Aboriginal educational goals and values, in the context of Canadian/westernized euro-centric education, I have decided to refocus my ETEC521 research from language revitalization to a broader spectrum of Tribally Controlled Education. I think the underlying line of query in the following post still holds true in many ways. How are Aboriginal communities re-establishing their right to culturally appropriate educational contexts?

Original post:

The goal of my research will be to find ways in which technology can be woven into effective and pedagogically sound methods of language revitalization. Living and working on Haida Gwaii in northern British Columbia, the language I am personally involved with is HlGaagilda Xaayda Kil, the Skidegate dialect Haida Language. I will be looking locally, nationally and globally for exemplary models of technology-assisted language revitalization.

It seems that often times, technology is portrayed as either counter-culture to traditional Aboriginal values, or as a “solution” to engaging with the culture of modern-day Aboriginal youth. Rather than being dichotomous, I think these two viewpoints may be placed in a shifting continuum in which there are no absolutes. In what ways are Aboriginal peoples using technology to revive and revitalize their languages? What novel methods of language revitalization are on the forefront? In what ways might technology reconcile with traditional Aboriginal culture?

Throughout this course I will keep an eye towards how this research relates to Skidegate’s language revitalization initiatives, which are currently in their infancy. During this term I will participate in the Breath of Life Institute, an indigenous language revitalization conference which will likely be reflected in my weblog postings.

Module 1: The Increasingly Mediated Experience of Web Browsing

Bowers, Vasquez and Roaf (2000) cite Don Ihde’s three fundamental experiences of technology: as a background relationship, as an physical interaction, and as a mediated experience that amplifies certain individual or cultural experiences while reducing others. In this TEDTalks video, Eli Pariser elaborates on how the experience of web browsing is becoming less of a community reality and more of an individualized experience, mediated in the background by internet conglomerates with little to no input from the individual.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8ofWFx525s&feature=channel_video_title[/youtube]

With the identification of this “filter bubble,” internet consumers of all types, including academic researchers and grassroots activists, must be conscious to actively search out information and angles that may be otherwise buried due to their personal/digital profile. In our journeys as”cyber-travellers,” the road on the information superhighway that we choose could potentially preclude information superhighway off-ramps reflecting information that does not flow in the same direction we have been looking. If Pariser’s “Filter Bubble” is an accurate representation of web browsing experience, a series of web searches on one topic could conceivable reduce the number of search results we find that provide an opposing or challenging view.

In the similar vein, if the web browsing preferences and interests of Aboriginal activists or community members flow in opposing directions, people who may be united in a commonly defined goal may find vastly opposing (or totally irrelevant) online resources unless certain links are consciously looked for or provided by friends, family or colleagues. The algorithm that regulates an invisible shift of information flow on the internet could prevent community connectedness necessary for tribal nations to promote individual or common causes. When Bowers, Vasquez and Roaf stated eleven years ago that the spoken word could not be recovered with the same accuracy of the printed word, how could they predict that the digitally printed word could become more insidiously fluid than the spoken word?