Author Archives: angela viola

The Journey Continues

I have found that my research gets specific, then general again and so on, in a cycle. Here is a mix of resources that reflect both the general and specific of my iterative research. I had a brief conversation with my vice-principal this week about this course and the research that I hope to continue through to the end of this year, hopefully next. In that meeting, I commented on how much I have learned this term, just enough to know how little I actually know! Here’s to the continued journey.

Grande, S. (2008). Red pedagogy: The un-methodology. In N. Denzin, Y. Lincoln, & L. T.
Smith (Eds.), Handbook of critical and Indigenous methodologies, (pp. 233 – 254).
Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Though there are a few pages missing in this google book version, the noble vision of this chapter is evident. Grande (2008) calls attention to the reality that Indigenous scholars and theorists have been focused on social issues in their communities and critical pedagogies have been overlooked. His chapter almost reads as a challenge to indigenous educators, as if he is daring you to grab hold of red pedagogy and see what happens.

McMullen, B. and Rohrback, A. (2003).  Distance education in remote Aboriginal communities: Barriers, learning styles and best practices. Prince George, BC: College of New Caledonia Press.

I was absolutely elated to find this. I have been very impressed with McMullen on a professional level and was thrilled to see that he co-authored a book a few years back. A book that has a poignantly relevant topic. It is one of the few resources that I printed off. I hope it will be good enough to snuggle up with next to the fire this weekend, but I only found it today so can’t speak to it yet.

Gooyers, B. (n.d.) Aboriginal Portal: Providing information and instruction to aboriginal distance students.

A simple guide for librarians in supporting Aboriginal distance students and a great reminder to instructional designers to not forget about their librarian or other student support services when designing a course.

C Pappas. (2014, November 26). The quintessential of the sociocultural learning theory. Retrieved from

An excellent reminder of the basics of Vygotsky’s theories. We so often apply his theory to early childhood education, forgetting that school aged children and adults are daily faced with learning new cultures and mindsets.

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. (2015). Success stories.

I thought it appropriate to end on a positive note and provide a place where we can all go for inspiration.

Getting Technical

Tunison, S. (2007). Aboriginal learning: A review of current metrics of success. University of Saskatchewan, Aboriginal Education Research Centre, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and First Nations and Adult Higher Education Consortium, Calgary, Alberta. Retrieved from

This document investigates the definition of success in learning for aboriginal students, provides indicators of success and then provides recommendations for educators. The author puts significant focus on the ‘learning spirit’ that “emerges from the exploration of the complex interrelationships that exist between the learner and his or her learning journey” (Tunison, 2007, p.10) prior to discussing pedagogy and technology.

Crossing Boundaries Aboriginal Voice. (2005). Aboriginal voice national recommendations: From digital divide to digital opportunity. Ottawa, ON. Retrieved from

Although these recommendations include elearning, they also include recommendations around egovernment, cultural and linguistic preservation and sustainability. From what I gather, the recommendations were presented to a government agency but I was unable to find any follow up papers. The paper has some valuable points on elearning and information and communication technologies in aboriginal communities.

Kawalilak, C., Wells, N. (Little Mustache), Connell, L., Beamer, K. (2012). E-learning Access, Opportunities, and Challenges for Aboriginal Adult Learners Located in Rural Communities. College Quarterly, 15 (2).

This is a very relevant and fairly recent study done by Bow Valley College in Calgary done using research methods respectful of the communities that they were researching. The authors discuss four themes that surfaced in the study: “1) Building Capacity: Onsite Education, 2) Success Factors: Needs and Perspectives, 3) Relationships and Learning: The Human Factor, and 4) Technology: Bridges and Barriers” (Kawalilak,  Wells, Connell,  Beamer & Kate, 2012) and provide 12 specific recommendations based on these themes.

O’Donnell, S., Walmark, B., Hancock, B-R. (2010) Videoconferencing and Remote and Rural First Nations, in White, J., Peters, J., Beavon, D., Dinsdale, P. (eds) Aboriginal Policy Research Volume 6: Learning, Technology and Traditions. Toronto: Thompson Educational Publishing: 128-139.

Though video-conferencing seems to be used less since the publication of this article it has some interesting and useful comments that could certainly be transferable to other technologies in online courses (i.e. Skype, Google Hangouts, Blackboard Connect, Adobe Connect). The article is based on the premise that face to face contact is valuable to aboriginal students, a premise that has plenty of support. It explores the various functionalities of video-conference technologies with aboriginal students.

Going Local

I am making this post in the order that I found these resources as I feel it illustrates my research path. I’m getting warmer.

Cherubini, L. (2014). Aboriginal Student Engagement and Achievement: Educational Practices and Cultural Sustainability. Vancouver: UBC Press.

This online book uses stories from the Aboriginal Student Program at an Ontario high school to illustrate the implementation of best practices and programming for aboriginal student engagement and achievement. The book describes the program derived in part from Ontario’s Ministry of Education and outlines the outcomes of the program with intent of others learning from their success. Access to the book requires UBC library login.

Henderson, R., Williams, K. & Crowshoe, L. (2015). Mini-med school for Aboriginal youth: experiential science outreach to tackle systemic barriers. Medical Education Online, 20.

I originally thought that this article might contribute to my final project. Upon reading it, I don’t think it applies to my goals, but is a fascinating summary of a program with admirable goals. The University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine runs a mini-med school for indigenous junior and senior high students. The program supports the overarching goal of improving health care services for aboriginal people as well as addressing the under representation of aboriginal people in medical professions. I look forward to reading future reports on the success of this program. Available online at UBC library.

Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative. (n.d.). Promising Practices in Aboriginal Education. Retrieved from

This website composed by the non-profit group Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative is invaluable for practitioners. The site has reference documents on 80 issues relating to Aboriginal Education. The documents range from tip sheets to full reviews of implemented programs. I know that I will be accessing this site again.

Alberta Education. (2015). Guiding Voices: A curriculum development tool for inclusion of First Nation, Metis and Inuit perspectives throughout curriculum. Retrieved from

This resource will be a primary resource for my final assignment. It is a guide for curriculum developers in Alberta and a required toolkit for use by curriculum developers in Alberta. Curriculum developers are responsible for the Alberta Programs of Studies, which then guide course development. Ideally, the same principles and guidelines should follow from these guidelines.

Robb, M. (2005). Our words, our ways: teaching First Nation, Metis and Inuit learners. Retrieved from teaching

I have finally hit the jackpot on locally developed resources on Aboriginal Education. This document outlines the cultural background of Aboriginal groups in Alberta and touches on strategies for education. This resource was developed by teachers and elders in Alberta for teachers in Alberta. I can’t wait to dive in.

What has gone right?

Our readings over module one have demonstrated what has gone wrong in relation to indigeneity, technology and education. I wanted to seek out what has gone right and how one might replicate or improve on it.

The Future


I loved the title of Ball’s (2007) paper, Indigenous Learners Online: The Future Isn’t What it Used to Be!The paper highlights some of the most common demands for online post-secondary education, common issues and successful practices. Many of the issues were familiar to what I hear at my current school as well as at the college I used to work at; issues of internet access, a desire to learn as a cohort, challenges of work, family and community responsibilities. It got me to thinking about some of the successes that I have heard about in my workplaces. At ADLC, we have many indigenous students learning in cohorts at the school with an online teacher who makes occasional visits. At Lethbridge College, there have been some creative (and highly successful) initiatives that included cohort learning and a combination of on campus and in community learning. For example, the Blood Tribe Agricultural Training Initiative, saw college instructors travel to the Blood reserve as well as students travelling in to the college for field trips. This initiative was so successful that 20 of the 22 participants completed in the allotted eight months and the remaining two plan to finish. The Early Childhood Education program also has a dual credit course that is running at reserve schools near Lethbridge. In the first year, college instructors taught the course online with the assistance of an onsite facilitator. During this time, they trained the facilitator to take on more responsibility. The second year, the on site facilitator managed the course with the occasional assistance of the college instructors.

Got Heart?

A project that I found within the above resource was invaluable. I am sure that many of you have already heard of the Project of Heart, but it was my first experience with it. It is a unique site that I would classify as a Community of Inquiry. The site is intended to be a journey for students seeking the truth of indigenous peoples in Canada. There are resources by and for teachers as well as resources by and for students. Among the most impressive is this video produced by a group of Grade 8 students. The site also contains maps, historical documents, other literature, testimonials and more.

Strategies, Programs and Practices

Beyond the Shadows: First Nation, Metis and Inuit Student Success is a comprehensive document emerging from the Canadian Teacher’s Federation (2013) President’s Forum on First Nations, Metis and Inuit Education. It explores seven major themes centered around facilitating indigenous student success and engaging indigenous communities.


Themes in Beyond the Shadows retrieved from

Instructional Design and Culture

McGloughlin and Oliver (2000)  raise the issue of culture in instructional design, noting that instructional design, like technology, is not neutral. The article discusses the possibility of culturally pluralistic design and suggests ten design principles for culturally inclusive instructional design. Although somewhat dated, this article addresses a very specific and relevant issue in online education.


Blood Tribe farming training program aims to cut unemployment. (2015, February 5). CBC News. Retrieved September 14, 2016, from

Ball, P. (2007). Indigenous Learners Online: The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be! (Rep.). Retrieved from Ed Conf paper 07.pdf

McLoughlin, C., & Oliver, R. (04/01/2000). Australian journal of educational technology: Designing learning environments for cultural inclusivity: A case study of indigenous online learning at tertiary level Australian Society for Educational Technology.

National Center for Truth and Reconciliation. (nd). Project of Heart. Retrieved from

Toulouse, P. R. (2013, August). Beyond the Shadows: First Nation, Metis and Inuit Student Success (Publication). Retrieved