Category Archives: Connection to Research Topic

Weblog Connections – Elders & Technology

Elders play a vital role in teaching the generations after them how to continue telling important stories of their heritage; culture and traditions; spiritual connections and rituals; language; community relationships and relationships and connections to nature and the land.  The idea of traditional wisdom being appropriated by technology is reality and cause for concern for elders today.

My weblog will focus on analyzing treatment of elders now that technology is infiltrating their communities and how technology has affected elders’ lives and their roles in their communities, including the traditional cultural transmission of knowledge, language and spiritual connections and relationships with the land & nature, and relationships in the community.  I’m curious as to how the relationships (between elders, their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren) have evolved due to the intrusion of technology, including how they interact and communicate.  The sites visited will include international and local sites.

There are many questions to consider including the following:  Has technology, social network sites and peer groups taken the place of elders’ direct influence on the younger generations?  Do elders feel marginalized due to technological invasion?  Do they or would they be interested in participating in the creation of educational resources to educate their youth about their traditions, history, spiritual life (somewhat), language and cultural values?

I plan to create a resource for Indigenous cultures as well as the staff at my school and in my school division, as due to our location we tend to have a number of Indigenous students in our schools that have moved to town from one of the nearby reservations.

Connecting Weblog to Research Interests

In my current position as the District Technology Coordinator in SD 58 (Nicola Similkameen) part of my job is to implement and maintain the Aboriginal education section of our website.  Our district student composition is over 40% Aboriginal (60% in Merritt and much lower in Princeton).  As a person with no Aboriginal heritage I believe it necessary to develop my understanding of Aboriginal culture and views on education if I am to properly implement an Aboriginal learning website.  The vision for the SD 58 Aboriginal website is to create a place for documenting ongoing projects and events as well as a resource for teachers integrating Aboriginal curriculum and a database for local Aboriginal history, language and culture.

With this in mind my weblog will focus on analyzing Aboriginal education sites targeting youth.  The visited sites will include everything from international to local sites.  My focus will be on the educational and cultural aspects of each of these sites.  Specifically I want to explore how to create a valuable localized resources for an Aboriginal group.  In doing this I hope to develop a culturally and educationally important resource for the students I work with as well as the community as a whole.

Keepers of the Earth      

While searching for the book Keepers of the Earth, by Michael J. Caduto and Joseph Bruchac,  I found this website for a fundraising organization created by First Nations people to support First Nations initiatives world-wide.  While it seems to be in its infancy in terms of depth of resources, especially as it pertains to young children, which is what I’m looking for, it does present a great many articles, videos etc. on First Nations perspectives on climate and environmental issues.  This would be a usseful resource for high school students especially since much of it is created by and for First Nations peoples.  It also struck me that creating an online component to supportand update  the classic text, Keepers of the Earth, that I have found useful in teaching both Science and Social Studies would be an excellent project.

Caduto, Michael J. and Joseph Bruchac (1997 )  Keepers of the Earth: Native American Stories and Environmental Activites for Children.  Fulcrum Publishing.

Language Preservation and Revitalization Through Technology

The goal of my research will be similar to Nicola’s: examining ways that indigenous groups are using technology to help preserve and revitalize languages. I had the opportunity to work for the Ktunaxa Nation Tribal Council for a year writing proposals to generate funding to support their wide variety of projects. A couple of the proposals were to support the preservation and revitalization of their almost extinct isolate language. Both proposals were funded: one for doing an inventory of fluent speakers and the other to initiate the development of a high speed broadband system to connect their five rural communities to support language preservation.  I ended up writing the final report for the fluent speaker project as the Ktunaxa researcher hired to do the work left the community after the interviews were completed and the data was compiled. At that time in 2002 there were only about 36 fluent speakers alive, however, today I understand the total has dwindled to about 20.

At the end of 2002 I moved back to Calgary and became involved in mainstream technical post-secondary education; however the challenge of the dwindling Ktunaxa fluent speaker population was always in the back of my mind. Now with my enrolment in this course, I started to think about how the Ktunaxa Nation language preservation and broadband project had evolved. I reconnected with my former boss and realized that finding out more about how indigenous people use technology to preserve and revitalize their languages is something that I would like to know more about.



Aboriginal Students Engaging and Struggling With Critical Multiliteracies, by Fatima Pirbhai-Illich (2010) discussses her study involving at-risk First Nations adolescents in Canada.  She explores the concept of Multiliteracies (New London Group, 1996) and attempts to increase students’ literacy level using a video project to address the students concerns about racism and fairness.   This reminded me of an article I read for a previous course that lead to discussion of what is literacy and how technology is leading us towards a sense of Multiliteracy.  It is true that our sense of literacy has been entrenched in text entrenched in Western Christian culture, the printing press and the industrial revolution.  This focus has disenfranchised a great many students and perhaps technology will allow us to rethink and expand our concept of literacy.  As I continue to seek out best-practice for Aboriginal students in elementary school, I will definitely keep the idea of Multiliteracies in mind.

Fatima Pirbhai-Illich, (2010) Aboriginal Students Engaging and Struggling With Critical Multiliteracies, Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy 54 (4).  (use the vpn connection to the library)

The New London Group (1996) “A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures” Accessed 05/07

One Laptop Per Child

The One Laptop Per Child Program (OLPC) is one that I have researched and discussed at length in my career as both a development studies student and now as an educational technology student. The focus of my final paper will be to look at the OLPC initiative through the lens of the readings and module topics discussed in this course.

The official OLPC website can be found here: and you can find the founder of the program, Nicholas Negroponte talk about the program when it first begun back in 2006 here on Ted Talks: Ted Talks OLPC

Additionally, there are a few Youtube links that describe the OLPC initiative, they can be found here:
Youtube OLPC Video 1
Youtube OLPC Video 2

As the videos describe, the idea behind the OLPC program is both ambitious and noble: to educate the world. But, can such a program be successful? Is the program just another way that Western ideals are being imposed on Indigenous cultures? This is what my final paper will explore.

The weblogs I post here will relate to the OLPC program, the issues that surround it and online sources that criticize the program from an Indigenous culture standpoint.

Aboriginal Education and The Digital Divide

The focus of my weblog entries from here forward will be to explore aboriginal access to technology by looking more closely at digital divide and digital literacy issues, discuss what is unique about aboriginal access and tie in the aboriginal tradition of story telling.  My un-researched opinion currently is that I would guess that the digital divide in aboriginal communities is greater than in most other communities.  I believe that the oral tradition of aboriginal communities, and the strong tradition of story telling has likely served as a backbone for culture history and because it has trumped the written word for so long it has also, perhaps, delayed the adoption of digital means of cultural transmission.  As pointed out in our first module, however, these digital transmissions are not culturally neutral in of themselves.  This is another aspect which can be tied into the discussion of aboriginal education and the digital divide.  To this end, my next posting to share communally relates closely with this topic.

This survey completed by stats Canada in the winter of 2004 highlights deficiencies in internet access and online skills for aboriginals.  This ties directly to the notion that the digital divide is more acute in aboriginal communities and will connect well with my research topic.

Connecting Weblog to Research Interests

Since the start of this course, I have been thinking that I have a lot to learn from indigenous cultures around the world. Respectively, Ginsburg (2002) and Hearne (2008) speak of the efforts made ​​by communities in Australia and North America through the production of filmmaking to preserve and transmit their traditions. I am interested on learning about the effort done by aboriginal cultures of South America and Chile in order to preserve and diffuse their traditions through the promotion and distribution of media and the educational benefits of these actions.

According to Prins (2002) indigenous communities can develop cross-cultural communication through the World Wide Web. Aboriginal groups utilize media for educating their own communities, encouraging self-reflection, and communicating to the rest of the world. My weblogs postings will focus on the attempt of Chilean and South American indigenous groups to transmit and maintain their traditions through the production and sharing of media. I will search for websites, resources, projects and organizations that have worked on the cultural preservation of indigenous communities.  Particularly, I am interested on searching for resources about Chilean aboriginal traditions, such as Mapuche, Aymara and Rapa Nui, the most representative indigenous communities of Chile.


Ginsburg, F (2002). Screen Memories Resignifying the Traditional in Indigenous Media. In: Ginsburg, F, Abu-Lug-hod, L, Larking, B. (Eds.) Media Worlds. Antropology on New Terrain. pp. 39-57. NJ: University of California Press. 

Hearne, J (2008). Indigenous Animation: Educational Programming, Narrative Interventions and Children’s Culture. In Wilson, P, Stewart, M. (Eds.) Global Indigenous Media. Cultures, Poetics and Politics. pp. 89-110. Durham: Duke University Press.

Prins, H (2002). Visual Media and the Primitivist Perplex. Colonial Fantasies, Indigenous Imagination and Advocacy in North Ameirca. In: Ginsburg, F, Abu-Lug-hod, L, Larking, B. (Eds.) Media Worlds. Antropology on New Terrain. pp. 58-74. NJ: University of California Press.

Building Understanding: Best Practice in Elementary Social Studies

My research project will be focused on best practice and appropriate use of technology to promote understanding of Aboriginal issues in elementary schools.  The grade 4/5 Social Studies curriculum is focused on Aboriginal and European contact and there are certainly a great many internet sites such as,  a repository of useful K-12 lessons and links.  Part of the question that I want to answer pertains to the validity of using technology to explore Aboriginal issues and how best to achieve the balance between virtual learning and real-life experiential learning.  There are so many engaging resources available online but does that actually build understanding in the way contact and lessons with Elders would?  I will also be interviewing Aboriginal educators in my district regarding their current use of technology in the classroom and in their programs.  Ultimately, I hope to be able to learn from their experience and to share my own findings with them.  It will take the form of a traditional paper but also with links and visuals to demonstrate my findings.

Aboriginal Canada Portal

Aboriginal Canada Portal

The Aboriginal Canada Portal is the Government of Canada’s website to bring all aspects of aboriginal cultures together within a single webpage.  The site provides information that is easy to navigate and understand.  Within the site, you can access information and resources that are targeted to a particular aboriginal audience within Canada.  From Elders to kids, there are multiple links for all ages.  The portal provides information in multiple mediums, from journals and newsletters to multimedia links; the portal provides information to engage the viewer that is easy to navigate and locate.  The website is a resource for individuals interested in learning more about aboriginal cultures and communities not only within Canada but abroad as well.