Module 4: Reaching Geographically Isolated Aborigines

The Australian Flexible Learning Framework seeks to reach Aboriginal students in Wales who are often excluded from traditional (Western) educational opportunities.  The organization has designed and executed various elearning programs to help students earn Level I and II Land Conservation certification.  The rationale for the project seems very mainstream, and could be the rationale for any elearning program:  to reach students who are geographically separated from the learning institution.  Although the organization has many experienced teachers involved with the project, there is no mention of Elders or even tribes members in the decision-making process.  Neither is there much discussion of the teaching methodologies used, aside from mentioning that the courses use a great deal of storytelling.  A report on the project states that students were engaged by having them design learning objects that could be used by future students.  The quality of the students’ work, however, made it unsuitable for future learners.

The project seems to have several issues.  It does not use the expertise of Elders from the tribes, and we are not sure if the teachers use a place-based method of teaching that takes an holistic approach to land conservation.  We can’t be sure, for instance, whether the students’ prior knowledge about places and natural phenomenon is validated or whether it is ignored for a Western concept of place.  One cannot be too sure whether the organization relies heavily on storytelling.  Storytelling might be a dominant way of transmitting knowledge, but it isn’t the only way within Indigenous communities.  If the organization is indeed relying heavily on storytelling, then this could be a Western stereotype at work in an educational context.  I mention this site because it contrasts with what we’ve been learning about Indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing.





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