Digital technologies and Aboriginal education (M1-3)

In my research I came across a 2009 article that explores digital technologies and their impact on Aboriginal learning in Canada.  Written by Fatima Pirbhai-Illich, K.C. Nat Turner and Theresa Y. Austin and titled Using digital technologies to address Aboriginal adolescents’ education: An alternative school intervention the article is a good read.

The link to the article can be found here, if you click on this RSVPN link it should take you right to the paper after logging in with your UBC credentials.

This article is a very interesting and timely piece that researches how digital technologies can support the learning of Aboriginal students.  More specifically the ethnographic project examines the impact of digital technologies on academic and technological literacy of one class through a number of projects.  The technology-focused and multi-modal activities were capped by a student written and produced public service announcement and some images and parts of the script are included.

The paper provides an interesting snapshot of one group of teacher`s efforts to reach out to Aboriginal students using technology in a Canadian classroom.  Although no astounding conclusions are recommended or made it is encouraging that groups of teachers are taking it upon themselves to take a closer look at how technology can be used to foster and support Aboriginal youth in their classrooms.

September 27, 2009   No Comments

Indigenous Science Network Bulletin (M1-2)

In researching Aboriginal science education I stumbled upon the works of Australian science educator and writer Michael Michie.  Michie has assembled some great resources as well as founded the Indigenous Science Network Bulletin.  His work has focused mainly on Aboriginal Science Education and how best to integrate modern scientific views with traditional Australian Aboriginal teachings.  This bulletin has been in operation for over 12 years and contains a wealth of information in this area.

Michie has also collected many links in his research and was kind enough to categorize them for readers on a links page.  Although the list is not extensive and was last updated in 2006 the content is extensive and timeless.

Here is a list of some of Michie’s research.  Maybe some of it will be useful for those studying from an Australian or science perspective.

September 27, 2009   No Comments

Module 1 – post 5

Thinking back several years, my inaugural web server that I created needed a name. Anyone in information technology is often faced with naming a new server. When the purpose is clear it is often pretty simple to name the server. When it is a little less well defined it becomes difficult. I thought that perhaps to ask our Aboriginal Support Teacher and Aboriginal Support Worker for their thoughts. I asked for a word that would somehow encompass learning or wisdom. Two challenges were with that server names could not use special characters such as apostrophes, accents etc, that and the two local communities’ languages were Beaver and Cree. There was some concern about offending one or the other. Two of our school servers were names after the school mascots, Oscar (seal), and Ookapik (owl) so one of the students suggested that Eagle would be an excellent name.

One of the students in the room while we were having the discussion was asked for his input as well as he had just attended a summer session in Kamloops with the Tk’emelupsemc Native Language Program. So to my point it made me think about Independent First Nations Schools and the Sk’elep School in Kamloops.

The site is very much a school website with information about the school, the curriculum, and their programs. Their vision was interesting as my district has spent a great deal of effort around our vision and mission over the last year of which I have been part. I’ve included Sk’elep’s vision below

“Our vision for Sk’elep School of Excellence is to be a loving, nurturing house that will promote life long learning for all children; develop a strong sense of self pride, belonging, knowledge and confidence while balancing Secwepemc language, history, culture and academic excellence; in partnership with parents, family and community.”

From my experience in the visioning process the ideas of loving, nurturing places and a sense of spirituality or self pride, and belonging were shared amongst the Aboriginal peoples involved in our process as well.

I think I will contact the school and see if I could visit in October when I’m down for TRU/SD73’s TechItUp conference and ask about their vision of technology in a First Nations school

September 27, 2009   No Comments

Module 1 – post 4

I was thinking about looking for languages for this post but found, in the Artists list on under Languages, Heritage and Culture on the Aboriginal Canada Portal (, an interesting site in French about Les Femmes au Tambour de Wendake enr. It caught my eye as it was a reference to Huron -Wendat women drummers. From my little cultural knowledge that peaked my interest as I though only men were allowed to drum. The site is in French which gave me the opportunity to practice a little too. The history page does make mention of the fact that the Sacred Drum was reserved for the use of men only. The founder of the group asked for authorization in a sacred ceremony and was granted permission.

The Mission page makes reference to a battle of cultures which has resulted in a loss of language and more. The influences of Europeans has resulted in a linear vision as instructed by missionaries and legislation. Many of the Ancestors have disappeared taking with them their wisdom, lessons, and knowledge of the Wendat language.
The groups mission is to help transmit and to spread the Huron-Wendat culture through their traditional art. It is a moving piece of text that sadly I cannot do justice to in a translation or a summary. If your French is good, have a read at (

The site continues with links between the Sacred Drum and Mother Earth, and the Grand Father. It also takes about celebrations and the role of women in the celebrations. There are many further links, pictures, calendars of events etc.

One quote from the lone male member of the troupe, Nicolas Ottawa, was poignant

“Puisque la Vie est une Musique, alors Vivre c’est Danser.” (my translation: If Life is Music, then Living is to Dance.)

September 27, 2009   No Comments

Module 1 – post 3

The Seventh Generation Club’s mission is

“To create a club where First Nations youth can envision their future by recognizing their own energy, the culture of their people, and the teamwork needed to succeed by giving them opportunities to make healthy life choices, participate in community, and meet the challenges of life.”

The club is an initiative for First Nation students in British Columbia that encourages health, and participation in their schools and communities. The club includes activities for Seventh Generation Club’s in schools as well as stories of “Goal Models” who are students that have shown how keeping goals in mind is important. The club publishes newsletters several times per year with activities, news, facts, surveys, sports, and people features. There is a definite BC focus with surveys and information around healthy living and daily physical activity. Another resource that I’ll be sharing with my teachers and Aboriginal Support Workers.

September 27, 2009   No Comments

Module 1 – post 2

First Nations Education Steering Committee’s website is dedicated to improving education for all First Nations learners in British Columbia. FNESC is an independent society comprised of representatives from First Nations across the province. The site includes current news, events, programs and links to other programs that support education for Indigenous peoples. It is heavy on information but has an excellent collection of published papers on teaching, resources, handbooks, languages etc. I found some great science resources from the Seventh Generation Club and Science World which I will be passing on to my teachers! Here are the 9 free booklets as PDF’s if you are interested, found at (’s/pdf/Science%20Book_10.pdf

September 27, 2009   No Comments

Module 1 – post 1

I decided to start looking at what websites the Government of Canada. Their alphabetical index has 13 Aboriginal sites under A so I decided to start my links with the Aboriginal Canada Portal. The first cursory glance at this website is impressive. It is the usual format for a Government of Canada website but has links to major Aboriginal groups such as the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, Metis National Council, Native Women’s Association of Canada and the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers. There’s also a plethora of topics listed from Economic development, claims and treaties, education, environment, health and social services, housing, justice and policing, language and culture, and research. It includes features about current events with an Aboriginal perspective which currently includes the 2010 Olympic Winter Games Artisan Village, and information on the H1N1 flu virus. The subsequent pages which include a tremendous amount of information and links to government services and program, also have informational facts of the “Did you know?” variety that include links to more information. Links also include sources under the link to add some authority to the information. I will be referring back to this website frequently to help with some of my searches as well as hopefully information for my paper.

September 27, 2009   No Comments

Module 1, Entry #5

Native Languages of the Americas: Preserving and Promoting American Indian Languages


This website is run by a non-profit organization that makes use of the Internet to promote the preservation and survival of the Native American languages.   The resources on this page help to acknowledge the existence of over 800 indigenous languages.  Furthermore, links leading to statistics, solutions and institutions ensure that many aspects of a language are covered.

September 27, 2009   No Comments

Module 1, Entry #4

American Indians of the Pacific Northwest


This website offers a digital collection that has over 23,00 photos and 7700 pages of text  depicting and explaining life, work, clothing, education of American Indians specifically form the regions of Northwest Coast and Plateau in the Pacific Northwest.  The source of these resources are the University of Washington Libraries, the Cheney Cowles Museum/Eastern Washington State Historical Society in Spokane, and the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle.

The website is easy to search and indeed offers valuable information through primary sources about a variety of topics.   After visiting this site and browsing through its resources, it is not hard to understand why it is an award winning website.

September 27, 2009   No Comments

Module 1, Entry #3

A New Understanding of Culture and Communication : The Impact of Technology on Indigenous Peoples


This website provides a pathfinder that is part of a virtual library of educational resources at the Northwest Indian College in Washington.  It was designed by AJ Johnson to facilitate the locating of information about how indigenous groups are utilizing modern technologies.  Sources cited are supposedly mainly free to access.  Covered categories of websites are general overview of technology’s effect, the most beneficial uses of technology, access to technology, the use of technology to preserve, promote and teach indigenous culture and history, and the changes in communication due to technology.    Although the layout is nice and clear, most links are unfortunately inactive.  The sources were current at the time the pathfinder was published (2001) but are now clearly of out date and inaccessible.  The author does provide tips for searching this specific topic on the World Wide Web, yet this is not enough to make this website of interest to a serious researcher.

September 27, 2009   No Comments

Module 1, Entry #2

Education World


Education World is an online resource for educators around the world.  The specific page I have linked to focuses on Native Americans, providing educators with ideas for cultural activities, lesson plans, readings and Internet resources.  The web page has been updated this month and all links are active.  This website seems to be a great place for educators to start exposing some elements of indigenous knowledge and reality to younger and older students alike.

September 27, 2009   No Comments

Module 1, Entry #1

The Journal of American Indian Education


Published through the Center for Indian Education , the Journal of American Indian Education provides a wealth of information about indigenous education. Published three times per year, the articles of the JAIE can be very useful for research about indigenous topics of all kinds.  The website gives access to abstracts and full articles published since the Journal was founded, in 1961. The editor and review panel are clearly disclosed.  Subscription information is clearly detailed.

The article search link seems to be broken and that makes finding articles of specific topics time-consuming for researchers as the articles are never listed by topic, rather by date.  Despite this set-back, which is potentially temporary, I believe the Journal of American Indian Education reaches its’ goal of improving  “Native Education through knowledge generation and transmission to classrooms and other educational settings”.

September 26, 2009   No Comments

The Circle Unfolds Review (M1-1)

In researching aboriginal science and technology education I have found a variety of resources that have been very enlightening.  One of the most interesting is a book that assembles a number of research articles and reflections on the subject of First Nations education in Canada

The Circle Unfolds takes a critical look at First Nations education form a science and technology perspective.  It provides an accurate history of Aboriginal education in Canada and reflects on how best to restructure and transform Aboriginal education in terms of learning processes and teaching.

Some of the articles deal with specific issues related to some of the research proposals we have written such as “Non-Native Teachers Teaching in Native Communities” by Taylor “A Major Challenge for the Education System: Aboriginal Retention and Dropout” by Mackay and Myles and “Redefining Science education for Aboriginal Students” by MacIvor.

The collection is both broad and deep providing a great overview of many of the challanges First Nations Education has had in the past and explores how it might change in the future.

Most of the book is freely available through Google Books so I suggest checking out the contents to see if there is anything useful for your own research.

September 26, 2009   No Comments

Module #1 Weblog Entry #2

Mission Voices Website

Mission Voices Website is a project funded by the Australian Broadcasting Company and involves the Koorie Heritage Trust  and the State Library of Victoria. The premise of the site is to document the history of six Aboriginal missions and reserves in Victoria, Australia. This is a unique historical account as it includes the voices of the Koorie elders who recount their memories of mission and reservation  life. It is a moving experience which adds a new dimension to the study of history.

Included in the site are collaborative activities for both middle years and high school students. The goal of the activities seems to be to promote the idea of how Aboriginal missions and reserves have shaped the lives of all Australians-past and present.

The site is very powerful. However, one downside is the navigation-it seems awkward and disjointed which is disappointing as this site offers much for educators.

September 20, 2009   No Comments