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ICTS and Indigenous students

Keynote: Michael Christie, Charles Darwin University

Natural Enemies: Aboriginal Knowledge Traditions and Digital Technology.

The discourses of difference and deficit, and the psychological, anthropological and political analyses of learning have all informed Aboriginal pedagogy and the practices of Aboriginal education in different ways at different times. With the increasing use of ICT in schools everywhere, questions arise again as to how assumptions underlying the nature, and use of digitising technologies are biased towards western ways of knowing, of producing knowledge, of making and validating truth claims, and of keeping knowledge traditions alive into succeeding generations.

Meanwhile, Aboriginal people everywhere, even in very remote locations are appropriating digital technologies for their own knowledge purposes, both within and outside schools. They are reinventing and reconfiguring computers and allied technologies for their own purposes.

The title of the paper is derived from a reflection on the statement made by Lev Manovich, the media theorist, looking at the database as a cultural form, and contrasting it with an earlier, different and opposing cultural form, the narrative. Manovich argues that the database represents the world as a list of items and it refuses to order this list. In contrast, a narrative creates a cause-and-effect trajectory of seemingly unordered items (events). (So) database and narrative are natural enemies. Competing for the same territory of human culture, each claims an exclusive right to make meaning out of the world.. This position casts light on a fundamental dislocation between how Aboriginal knowledge is routinely made, and how institutions like schools do knowledge work.

This paper starts with some theoretical development opening questions of knowledge and technology, and then moves on to examining a number of case studies in which Aboriginal people in their own ways are subverting the biases which digital technologies currently bring towards the commoditisation and objectification of Aboriginal knowledge. At the same time, these various projects are making clear how computers and the ways they work are subtly changing the ways we all understand the world.

The last section of the paper looks at some software designs which have arisen from the collaboration between Aboriginal co-researchers and researchers at CDU working on a research project called Making Collective Memory with Computers. These electronic proofs-of-concept reveal new ways in which computers can be configured to keep Aboriginal knowledge traditions strong, responsive and properly governed, and help Aboriginal knowledge practices come alive in the classroom.

Preconference workshop 7:

ICT, Indigenous Culture, Technology Literacy and YOU, Today, Tomorrow and the Future!" What's Next? Student Video Podcasts, Student Lead Professional Development, Portable Media, Nano-Technology and more.......................................................

Come to this workshop for a hands on interactive experience building a MultiCultural Video Podcast using your laptop, external microphone, digital camera or mobile phone. Fun for All, novice, K-12 students and experts welcome. Join Rachael Tuwhangai from the University of Auckland, NZ, James Smith and Sylvester Robertson, ISTE Minority Leadership Symposium ICT Educators from Seattle and Los Angeles respectively. Learn how Maori emersion, student lead professional development, and MultiCultural curriculum can supplement your classroon instruction through the use of ICT. These three Educators of Color have been using ICT in the classroom and their communities for over twenty years. Come join the fun and add to your ICT tool box. Also Dialogue about "21st Century Students, 19th Century Teachers, and The Role ICT plays in a Diverse Society.

Natives of the land but digital immigrants in the world of cyberspace.

Jimmy Waerea

It is a long standing tradition of ours that when a meeting is called asking the people to co-operate, collaborate, share and problem solve we meet face-to-face to discuss the matters at hand. In todays world, with the distance between our people and the technology available, we have the opportunity to explore the use of online communities of practice to bring them together in a synchronously and asynchronously via online communities.

This presentation highlights the difficulties our Māori educators have when participating in online communities of practice. It also highlights the successes that they experienced when they themselves realize their potential and also possible exemplars of models of engagement, professional development and support mechanisms needed for indigenous groups who maybe native to the land but are definite digital immigrants when working in online communities.

Working with ICT Cross-culturally Students and Teachers all learning


When computers enter a classroom they are appropriated in many different ways to become part of the learning environment. Many Aboriginal children come to school with traditional practices of knowledge making and sharing, and traditional understandings of technology and the environment. This study contrasts a grade 5/6/7 teachers experience of Aboriginal and non Aboriginal students involvement with ICT in a remote Northern Territory primary classroom.

The unit was designed from a student-centred cross-curricular perspective, using outcomes from the new curriculum framework for the Northern Territory (NTCF). The teacher had implemented a similar unit of work within a non-Aboriginal classroom prior to working in the Territory, and during 2005, adapted the unit to the predominantly indigenous classroom. The teacher observed that Aboriginal students found working collaboratively problematic whilst incorporating ICT to achieve the outcomes of the assignment. However, when the art/technology area of the assignment was undertaken by students where they did not incorporate ICT, Aboriginal students were more able to collaborate than non-Aboriginal students, in order to reach outcomes.

Digital Dreaming Project Jason Evatt Paul Sampson

This presentation will outline a body of work in ICTs that has evolved over the past four years at Yarrabah State School, an all-indigenous school approximately one hour drive from Cairns.

This project has used ICTs to record a number of Traditional Stories of the Gungganyji people (the traditional inhabitants of the area) and then turned them into computer animations using student art, voices and music as well a contracted artist/programmer. These animations are currently being embedded into an interactive literacy software package for the students at the school. This software is being designed & built by a team of teachers at the school and Version 1 should be complete by the conference date. This product will be showcased at the stage it's at.

The presentation will outline the processes that have been followed through each phase of the project and give an insight into the software & hardware used as well as the skills of the people involved. It will be accompanied by a student performance of traditional dance & music, presenting one of the animations.

Indigenous EFL Learning and the Digital World

Sarah Coller

For the past 2 years Ive been teaching Information, Processing and Publishing and Community Studies as part of the NTCE through SSABSA. The challenge I was initially presented with was to formulate a program of work that catered to students with no computer experience, or to students with very basic computer skills. All students here at Shepherdson College are ESL learners with low literacy and irregular school attendance. I designed a program utilising individual booklets allowing students to work through at their own pace, accommodating external community influences on the students time. Each booklet concentrates on different aspects of Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Publisher, Adobe Photoshop and Cyberlink PowerDirector. Every course uses sequences of successive approximation to each goal, which creates a real perception of success and consequently, ongoing motivation. Each part of the program maximises non-verbal and minimal written content to communicate the intended outcome, again giving students the opportunity to succeed in each task. The fulfilment of the learning outcomes provides the students with new skills while consolidating previously learned skills, developing a product that has practical and meaningful application for the students in their community and non- threatening access to mainstream communication. Students have produced works from magazine covers, postcards and websites to music film clips and documentaries.

"That online is deadly mate" - Education and Training on the northern edge

Gerry Green Michael Brown

Since the early 1990s Tropical North Queensland TAFE has pioneered technology based flexible programs to meet the diverse training needs of its regional and remote clientele. Beginning in the early 90s with the Remote Area Teacher Education Program (RATEP) to Cape York indigenous communities using a mixture of Video, CD and audiographics, the Institute has progressed to delivery of a large range of programs utilising a variety of technologies including CD/DVD, online, videostreaming, videoconferencing - blended with residentials and workshops. Programs include, Nursing, Massage, Optical Dispensing, Athlete Support, Education Support, Tourism and Hospitality, RATEP, Diploma of e-learning, Spatial Services (GIS) and Business administration. The popularity of this mode of training has now attracted students from all over Australia who prefer the time and place independence of technology based learning.

Last modified: 5/28/2006
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