ArticlePDF Available

Literacy practitioners' perspectives on adult learning needs and technology approaches in Indigenous communities

Authors:

Abstract

Current reports of literacy rates in Australia indicate an ongoing gap in literacy skills between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian adults, at a time when the literacy demands of work and life are increasing. There are many perspectives on what are the literacy needs of Indigenous adults, from the perspectives of community members themselves to the relatively under-researched perspective of literacy practitioners. This paper provides the insights, experiences and recommendations from adult literacy practitioners who work with adult Indigenous learners in communities across Australia. Focus group interviews, using an online synchronous platform, were used to elicit views about the literacy needs of Indigenous adults in communities and the successes in and barriers to meeting those needs. The practitioners also shared their views on the use of technology in literacy learning. Together, these views can inform future directions in curriculum design and teaching approaches for community-based Indigenous adult literacy education.
University of Wollongong
Research Online
Faculty of Education - Papers (Archive) Faculty of Social Sciences
2010
Literacy practitioners' perspectives on adult
learning needs and technology approaches in
Indigenous communities
Michelle Eady
University of Wollongong, meady@uow.edu.au
Anthony Herrington
University of Wollongong, tonyh@uow.edu.au
Caroline Jones
University of Wollongong, carjones@uow.edu.au
Research Online is the open access institutional repository for the University of Wollongong. For further information contact the UOW Library:
research-pubs@uow.edu.au
Publication Details
Eady, M., Herrington, A. & Jones, C. (2010). Literacy practitioners' perspectives on adult learning needs and technology approaches
in Indigenous communities. Australian Journal of Adult Learning, 50 (2), 260-286.
Literacy Practitioners’ Perspectives on Adult Learning Needs
and Technology Approaches in Indigenous Communities
Michelle Eady, University of Wollongong, Australia, meady@uow.edu.au
Anthony Herrington, Curtin University of Technology, Australia, a.herrington@curtin.edu.au
Caroline Jones, University of Wollongong, Australia, carjones@uow.edu.au
Abstract
Current reports of literacy rates in Australia indicate an ongoing gap in literacy skills between Indigenous and non-
Indigenous Australian adults, at a time when the literacy demands of work and life are increasing. There are many
perspectives on what are the literacy needs of Indigenous adults, from the perspectives of community members
themselves to the relatively under researched perspective of literacy practitioners. This paper provides the insights,
experiences and recommendations from adult literacy practitioners who work with adult Indigenous learners in
communities across Australia. Focus group interviews using an online synchronous platform were use to elicit their
views about the literacy needs of Indigenous adults in communities and the successes and barriers to meeting those
needs. The practitioners also shared their views on the use of technology in literacy learning. Together, these views
can inform future directions in curriculum design and teaching approaches for community-based Indigenous adult
literacy education.
Introduction
In 2006, the Australian Census indicated that 19.4% of Indigenous adults had completed high school (Year 12)
compared to 44.9% of non-Indigenous adults (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2006). For this statistic, adults are
defined as people aged 15 years or over in 2006. Since Year 12 attainment is now considerably more common
among young Australian adults than a decade or two ago, and since Australia’s non-Indigenous population is aging
much faster than the Indigenous population, data on younger adults are also relevant. The results of recent rounds of
the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) point out the continuing over-representation of Indigenous
15 year olds among Australian 15 year olds with the lowest literacy levels. The PISA data also point to the
importance of taking into account socioeconomic status and home location in understanding educational attainment
among young Indigenous adults in Australia. As noted by Masters (2007) in his analysis of the 2006 PISA results,
“approximately 40 per cent of Indigenous students, 26 per cent of students living in remote parts of Australia and 23
per cent of students from the lowest socioeconomic quartile are considered by the OECD to be ‘at risk’.”
Disparities between educational outcomes for Indigenous compared to non-Indigenous people are not
confined to Australia. In international data, there is a greater disparity in educational attainment between indigenous
and non-indigenous people than between males and females, or between locations of residence (UNESCO-
OREALC, 2007, cited in UNESCO, 2008, p. 62). To sharpen awareness of the need for increased adult literacy,
UNESCO called in 2000 at the World Education Forum in Dakar for a 50 per cent increase in adult literacy levels by
2015, particularly to improve the position of women and to allow access to basic and continuing education for
adults. This goal may now not be met following the impacts of the current global recession on developing countries
(UNESCO, 2010).
The gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous adults in Australia, in educational attainment and in
literacy, is lived out within contexts that lack appropriate employment and training opportunities for many
Indigenous people. This employment and training issue has been discussed by Kral and Schwab (2003), Eady
(2004), and Greenall (2005), and has prompted government officials and agencies to seek solutions or
improvements. In the literature, however, the views of a key partner in the literacy movement, the literacy
practitioner, have not generally been a focus of research.
Indigenous Literacy
The view of many Indigenous groups is that they should be included at the onset of any discussions around literacy
concerns and should be asked what literacy means to their community and what aspects of literacy are important to
their language group. Indigenous communities tend to place an intrinsic and collective value on education which is
woven into the present and future needs of their people. Battiste (2008) writes: “Aboriginal scholars and writers
have recognized that education is the key matrix of all disciplinary and professional knowledge and central to
alleviating poverty in Aboriginal communities” (p. 176).
Congruent with Indigenous learning perspectives, literacy in Indigenous communities tends to be viewed as
a process and not as a final outcome. Incorporating various learning styles, Indigenous literacy is viewed as a multi-
faceted progression which develops throughout an individual’s lifespan (Antone et al., 2002; Donovan, 2007;
George, 1997; McMullen & Rohrbach, 2003; NADC, 2002). In Indigenous communities, increasing one’s literacy
skills tends to be recognized as more than a means to increasing one’s education and obtaining viable employment.
Indigenous perspectives on literacy encompass a broader perspective which includes the objective of striving to
maintain cultural identity, preserving language and achieving self-determination (Antone et al., 2002; Battiste, 2008;
Kral & Schawb, 2004; NADC, 2002; Paulsen, 2003). For many Indigenous people, “your embodiment in time and
place, and your language – your stories, place names and species names, songs, designs, dances, gestures etc –
together produce your identity” (Christie, 2005, p. 2). All these aspects Christie (2005) refers to reflect a wholistic
interpretation of literacy.
Well respected and recognized Indigenous Elders and teachers have attempted to define Indigenous
literacy. Seen as more than acquiring skills to get a better job or to obtain higher education, literacy is recognized by
some in Indigenous communities as a multi-faceted process, which is essential to maintaining culture and language
(Antone et al., 2002). Priscilla George/Ningwakwe describes Indigenous literacy:
Indigenous literacy is a tool, which empowers the spirit of Indigenous people. Indigenous literacy services
recognize and affirm the unique cultures of Indigenous Peoples and the interconnectedness of all aspects
of creation. As part of a life-long path of learning, Indigenous literacy contributes to the development of
self-knowledge and critical thinking. It is a continuum of skills that encompasses reading, writing,
numeracy, speaking, good study habits and communication in other forms of language as needed. Based
on the experience, abilities and goals of learners, Indigenous literacy fosters and promotes achievement
and a sense of purpose, which are both central to self-determination (George, 1997, p.6).
Similarly, ways in which Indigenous literacy has been supported, reflect culturally influenced assumptions.
For example, current models of distance education being implemented for Indigenous learners are largely
representative of the technology, heritage and scholastic traditions of the developed Western nations, and lack
culturally appropriate learning components which have been proven a factor to the success of adult learning (AISR,
2006; Ramanujam, 2002; Sawyer, 2004; Young et al., 2005). Ramanujam (2002) cautions against blindly copying
Western models of distance education rather than recreating Indigenous models which, “will have greater relevance
and strength than the copied or adopted models” (Ramanujam, 2002, p. 37). Prototypes based on Western middle-
class ideals and standards where the curriculum and learning objectives emphasize the acquisition of workplace
skills and appropriate literacy levels related to personal success and status in mainstream society are often rejected in
Indigenous communities (Taylor, 1997).
While community views of Indigenous literacy are in evidence in the research literature, representation of
the views of adult literacy practitioners is scant (George, 1997). As part of a wider study into the use of synchronous
learning technologies to support literacy needs of adult Indigenous learners (Eady, Herrington & Jones, 2009), the
researchers sought to determine this perspective. That is, to answer the questions: What do literacy practitioners
perceive to be the literacy needs in Indigenous communities? How might the use of computer and information
technology assist in meeting these needs?
Methodology
In addressing the problem of the under-representation of the perspective of literacy practitioners who work with
Indigenous communities, the researchers thought it important to consult with literacy practitioners who have a
common thread of working with Indigenous adult literacy learners and who work in various locations around
Australia. The questions to participants were:
1. These first questions are related to your career:
a. What is your job title?
b. How many years have you been in this capacity?
c. What are your qualifications?
d. What are your main interests in working with Indigenous communities?
2. What do you perceive to be some of the literacy needs in Indigenous communities?
3. What are some of the ways that you have been able to work with community members to meet
these needs?
4. Have you ever used computer technology to work with your learners?
a. If so, what technology and how successful was it and would you use it again?
5. How do you feel that computer technology can change the way we support Indigenous learners?
An online focus group methodology was selected for initial consultation as it suits the involvement of
individuals from many different geographical areas (Anderson & Kanuka, 2003). The internet also enables such
research to be done in a cost effective manner. Asynchronous and synchronous tools are available and because of the
variability of the tools themselves it is difficult to make generalizations about them (Anderson & Kanuka, 2003).
The predominant forms of focus groups have been text based (Anderson & Kanuka, 2003), meaning that
the discussion takes place by means of entering text. This happens over time where one participant posts an entry
and hours, or days later other participants will respond (asynchronously) or in a forum where live time discussion
through text based means takes place with immediate feedback and real time exchange (synchronously).
However, now with the ever-growing internet and capacity for high speed broadband, there are increasing
opportunities for natural forms of communication over the internet (Anderson & Kanuka, 2003). Programs that can
be used in these situations allow for audio- and video-based opportunities that can be accessed by the participant in
the form of down-streamed past events that have been recorded and can be replayed (asynchronous), or interactive
sessions, where participants can converse with one another, receive immediate feedback and also see each other in
real time during the online sessions (synchronous).
For the purpose of the online collaboration with literacy practitioners, the researchers opted to use
iVocalize. iVocalize was used as a synchronous platform tool, however, sessions can be recorded for asynchronous
use as well. The online focus group lasted approximately 90 minutes. The participants were asked a variety of
questions and took turns responding to each other’s comments. These questions were presented on PowerPoint
slides for the participants, within the online session. The online focus group was recorded and then transcribed. The
transcriptions were then read through and a research journal created, using coding to identify common categories
between and amongst the participant responses and observations (Marlow, 2005; Ryan & Bernard, 2000; Stake,
2000). The relationships between the identified categories resulted in the formation of themes, which when
combined and placed in order of predominance, lead to categories. These categories were reflected upon in
combination with the reviewed literature, and Indigenous community members’ views (see Eady, in prep.), which
together provided the guiding principles of the research.
The primary goal in the analysis was to make sense of the data and find commonalities of meaning behind
the data collected as a thorough and organized system of analyzing the data collected is important to ensure validity
of the study (Marlow, 2005; Ryan & Bernard, 2000; Stake, 2000). The transcription of data collected was shared
with participants to ensure accuracy, and reviews of the analysis ensured minimal researcher bias.
Results and Discussion
The results for each focus group question are discussed below each question and transcribed interview data are
provided where relevant to highlight particular aspects. The interview data has been coded. Each of the participants
were given a pseudonym and the online group was coded OPFG (Online Practitioner Focus Group). The date was
also recorded behind each entry in a day/month format.
1. Career-related questions (job title, years in this capacity, qualifications, main interests in working with
Indigenous communities):
In discussing career-related issues, practitioners held various positions in literacy based areas. The average
number of years working in the field was 11 years, 6 months, varying from 2 years experience to a 25 year veteran.
The volunteer practitioner focus group was located across various areas of Australia depicted on the map below:
The practitioners involved in the online focus group came with a variety of backgrounds and skill sets. As a group,
the practitioners' qualifications included, among others:
· Advance diploma in Fine Arts, Cert IV Training and Assessment, Masters of Education
· Bachelor of Arts, Dip Ed Secondary, CELTA
· Bachelor of Science, Grad Dip Ed,, Adv Dip LLN in Vocational Education
· Grad Dip Adult Education, Grad Dip Aboriginal and intercultural studies
· Bachelor of Education
· Masters of Professional Education and Training
· Ph D in Education, Bed, CGEd and Dip Workplace assessment and training
· Social work degree, communication studies and post graduate social work
· Diploma of Community development
Participants’ main interests in Indigenous communities varied. Some (like Amy, below) expressed a main interest in
helping community members prepare for the future while keeping culture strong today. Others (like Ruby, below)
expressed a main interest in improving vocational education and employment outcomes:
· I love working with the community, I want to assist in self-dependence and empowerment for the next
generation – whilst working with community members now to keep the Aboriginal culture healthy and
strong for the next generation to inherit and have the skills to keep their country healthy.
Amy_OPFG_24/09 [pseudonyms used throughout]
· My main interests are about developing and implementing better approaches in vocational education
and link them to workforce outcomes. My current interest is about enterprise development and
approaches that engage Indigenous peoples in being trainers, leading Indigenous content and
informing future developments of vocational training. Ruby_OPFG_24/09
These differences in main interests are perhaps not surprising given the practitioners’ varied backgrounds and skill
sets, and the geographical, economic and cultural diversity of the communities in which they work.
2. Literacy needs in Indigenous communities as perceived by the practitioners:
The practitioners’ perceived literacy needs in Indigenous communities centred around four main needs:
(i) Need for a better understanding of the complexities of the Indigenous learner from both a language and a
personal perspective.
(ii) Need for improvement of all literacy skills.
(iii) Need to help to better support the children in the community.
(iv) Need for literacy to provide a voice for the community.
Each of these is discussed in more detail below:
Need for a better understanding of the complexities of the Indigenous learner from both a language and a personal
perspective.
Many of the practitioners agreed that before literacy needs can even start to be addressed in Indigenous
communities, one must understand the complex nature of the language and underlying layers of personal
experiences and barriers that are faced by the Indigenous learners in communities. In most cases, literacy
practitioners are teaching literacy in a Western literacy framework, from a Eurocentric perspective, using the
English language. For many Indigenous people in Australia, there are many different dialects of their first language
to master (including traditional languages, creoles, mixed languages, and/or non-standard English), before standard
English is even introduced:
For some of the communities we need to recognize that English is their fifth language and to realize the
sophistication of their knowledge for knowing and for being so bilingual speaks to many different
Aboriginal languages, so I think that that's something that a lot of practitioners face. OPFG_Kelvin_24/09
This is not to say, however, that Indigenous learners are not able to function in their own language. The
practitioners agree that it is not a matter of learners not having the capabilities to embrace the expected literacy tasks
and all they entail. For example, one respondent pointed out that it is still all too easy for Indigenous people whose
first language is not Standard English to be misjudged and underestimated for their ideas and views:
There's no doubt that people can communicate and communicate successfully and they can negotiate and
they can do all of those high-level thinking things in their own language and then when it gets transferred
to English it makes people look like, you know… they don't know what they're doing or that they're not
intelligent which I think is quite deceiving. OPFG_Amy_24/09
A concern of the practitioners is that there is not a strong link between the Indigenous literacies, with second
language issues and standard Australian English coupled with Western literacy expectations. Another component of
this category was an understanding of personal experiences and barriers that Indigenous learners have faced that
have impeded and will continue to impact their literacy skills. Many of these learners have started out with negative
early schooling experiences which have led them to leave school without graduating or completing their education.
For some Indigenous learners, there seems to be a lack of motivation and a lack of confidence when resuming their
education. One practitioner explained:
It’s a lot to do with inter-cultural confidence for understanding how to relate to the mainstream white system.
OPFG_Jette_24/09
Many practitioners also agree that Indigenous learners do not see enough reason for continuing with their
education through literacy upgrading or employment up-skilling. Acknowledging the linguistic complexities and
incorporating a level of empathy and understanding of a learner’s personal history is not to be overlooked when
working with Indigenous learners. The practitioners agreed that these factors combined should be carefully
considered by a practitioner when proceeding with a literacy program in an Indigenous community.
Need for improvement of all literacy skills.
The next category of results that emerged from the data collected was an overall need to improve
the literacy skills in Indigenous communities. The literacy skills of these learners are often very low and
insufficient to be successful at current learning tasks such as completing Year 11 or a Year 12 certificate.
These skills are required for success on everyday tasks such as learning how to fill out forms and
negotiating with service providers or corporations from outside the community. There is also a need for
digital literacies, i.e., learning how to use computers and become proficient with the language of
technology and the tasks associated with such technology.
For many of the learners that these practitioners work alongside, it is a combination of the linguistic
complexities, personal schooling experiences and a lack of early literacy strategies that has resulted in these low
literacy skills. These practitioners would like their learners to have the ability to access any learning program, any
employment opportunity and fulfill any personal learning goals with confidence and strong literacy skills.
Need to help to better support the children in the community.
The third category that emerged focused on the children of the learners in Indigenous communities. The
practitioners have identified a direct connection between the adult’s learning experiences and strengthening the
interactions with children in communities. For many of the adults who attend literacy classes and up-skilling
programs, a large part of their participation directly relates to their desire to increase their parenting skills and help
their children with schoolwork.
This emerging theme is linked to the data presented earlier that relates to adult learners’ own past
experiences and poor early literacy strategies. Perhaps strengthening the skills of adult learners in Indigenous
communities will have a flow-on effect, preventing the same deficit in skills for the children of these learners.
As one practitioner stated:
Many programs work in a positive way from adults to kids. OPFG_Ruby_24/09
Need for literacy to provide a voice for the community.
In the final category the literacy practitioners felt that a literacy need for Indigenous communities today
was a need for literacy skills to be able to provide a voice for the community. The communities in question face a
need for English language and Westernized terminology so that the community and its members are able to
negotiate for their community and represent the community’s stance on issues that they feel important to the well-
being of their people and society:
It’s about inter-cultural confidence for understanding how to relate to the mainstream white system for
which you need language skills basically and an understanding of how that system functions and that’s
what literacy is actually in that context. OPFG_Jette_24/09
3. Ways in which practitioners have worked with community members to meet their needs:
While the previous question focused on the literacy needs in Indigenous communities and resulted in four
categories of needs as seen by the literacy practitioners, the next question asked the practitioners to share some of
the ways that they have been able to help learners meet these identified needs. The practitioners identified three
categories of approaches that they have taken:
(i) Using culturally relevant approaches and materials.
(ii) Community/learner ownership and community development focus.
(iii) Facilitating a mentorship program.
Using culturally relevant approaches and materials.
The practitioners suggested that the best approach to take when working with Indigenous learners is to use
culturally relevant approaches and culturally relevant materials when facilitating literacy programs for Indigenous
communities. Some of these approaches include: Oral language, talking, read-alouds and storytelling, music and
song, learning through nature, using visual language and seeking Elders’ advice.
One practitioner in particular noted that an important aspect of literacy learning in the communities is involving
the respected Elders. The programs that are negotiated include the Elders who offer advice about how the programs
should evolve and how those involved in the program; practitioner and learner, should work together. No matter
what approach a practitioner decides to take, it was agreed that it is very important to use culturally relevant material
with Indigenous learners. One practitioner described the process best in saying:
…the other thing is keeping the material really relevant to the culture so that you may be using English
but about subject and content that is to do with caring for country things that are of great interest to those
Aboriginal people. OPFG_Kelvin_24/09
Community /learner ownership and community development focus.
The second category that arose was community/learner ownership and community development. One
practitioner, who runs several different programs in many regions of Australia, described one starting point, an
assessment tool for learners and communities:
We have developed a literacy assessment tool that gets people thinking about what they need and want
and negotiate the program, this gets more buy in and connection than just the idea that you will lose your
dole (if you don’t participate in the literacy lessons). OPFG_Ruby_24/09
Focusing on the topics that are relevant to the needs and interests of the learners and the community
is important for the success of the learner. It is important to help a learner or a community figure out what
they are trying to achieve with their literacy learning, and then help people go in the direction that they have
identified. By embedding the literacy and numeracy skills into content that is of interest and relevance to the
learner and or community, the results are more encouraging then when forcing material that has no relevance
to the learners.
Literacy learning can also focus on community development and representation of community
views. The practitioners offered several pertinent examples of how literacy learning can be designed to
support community enterprise:
We have identified programs in the communities for literacy that are a local priority. For example, in a
community there was a catering program, in another a shop, in another an elders care program and we
get people to actually work in these programs and then all literacy support is about these activities and
therefore is place and context specific/situated. OPFG_Rowena_24/09
The practitioners interviewed agreed that using curricula or programs that are learner focused, where
there is a sense of ownership in a context in which the community benefits and develops as a result, are far
superior to other learning approaches.
Facilitating a mentorship program.
The third approach suggested was facilitating a mentorship program, not just for learners but for
practitioners as well. For practitioners, it is important to be mentored when first arriving to work with Indigenous
learners and equally important is a mentoring program for learners. A mentoring program enables a monitoring of
learners as they go through their learning process:
Community members are in that program and they’re getting mentored while they’re in that so they’re
learning (course material) but they’re also learning…to address kind of life issues really while they’re
doing that. So it is sort of employment, service delivery learning and what we call case work, you know,
but in an integrated way. This provides platforms for people rather than feeling like they’re a receiver of
literacy teaching, they’re actually part of a core service delivery and alongside that by the way they’re
getting literacy teaching, they’re getting support with family relationship issues, they’re getting
whatever but they don’t have to be seen as a client of a service. OPFG_Jette_24/09
4. Practitioners’ previous use of computer technology with learners (which technology, was it successful,
would they use it again):
This question involved computer technology experiences with the communities and learners in those
communities. Ten of the 11 practitioners reported using technology with learners in some form. Some
practitioners brought their own computer to share with learners, explaining:
In my present job most of the communities I work with, the training rooms didn't have ability to put in
any computers even if I had computers but I used to take my own computer. OPFG_Robert_24/09
Some other hardware accessories that were mentioned were data projectors and digital cameras. In the case
of software applications, however, the practitioners have employed several different types of software for various
purposes. For example, blogging, Facebook, email, Skype and Elluminate were used for social networking;
Powerpoint and Publisher for presentations, Online pinball machine for playing games, and Photo Story and Movie
Maker for digital storytelling.
The practitioners also reported that these computer applications incorporated literacy skill-building
opportunities such as:
· Language skills
· Word processing
· Driver’s licence preparation
· Reading
· Researching
· Writing
· Oral presentation
· Communication skills
· Mentoring opportunities
· Tax filing skills
· Digital photography
· Job searching
· Banking
· Opportunity for higher education courses
Some of the skills listed are very practically based and when the technology was seen by the learner and
community as ‘useful’ the learners readily became proficient in the use of that application. One practitioner
described the women in one particular community learning online banking skills:
… I didn't teach them this but it was so successful because they could pay their bills and all sorts of stuff and not
have any cash in their hands. They are amongst the best internet bankers that I've seen anywhere. So I was really
impressed with when the technology is useful how quickly it was grabbed on in the communities.
OPFG_Robert_24/09
While there were clear indications that the learners enjoyed using the technology, the practitioners also
shared some frustrations when using technology with learners in Indigenous communities. The recurring themes in
the discussion included the lack of computers and the absence of internet services in many of the communities
where the practitioners work. Despite some of the barriers to using computer technology in Indigenous
communities, there is much evidence to suggest that computers are being incorporated in many aspects of literacy
learning in these communities.
5. How practitioners felt computer technologies could change the way they support Indigenous learners:
Computer technologies have afforded flexible communication and learning applications. While many
mainstream and urban city centres have enjoyed these privileges for many years, some more remote and isolated
communities in Australia have yet to experience easy access to computers, the internet and other computer
applications. The practitioners were asked how they felt that computer technology could change the way they
support their Indigenous learners.
The most prominent answers revealed how practitioners felt that through computer technologies they could
better meet the needs of their learners while implementing learning activities that build on both cultural and learner
strengths. Computer technologies mean that visual literacies, oral memory and spatial relations can be brought to the
forefront and used to advantage. In working with technology, people can also work in culturally appropriate and
supportive transgenerational groups and focus on sharing their knowledge.
Computer technology could also help to provide literacy and learning services in a learner’s own
environment and lessen the isolation that many learners feel:
It would be great if they could access that sitting in their own, familiar, comfortable space where they feel
confident and powerful, they can have their kids around their legs or whatever needs to happen but they can
still be part of that. I would really, really love that to happen. I think that would be hugely beneficial.
OPFG_Kandy_24/09
A second focus the practitioners identified was that computer technology can provide more
accessibility to higher education opportunities and job/work readiness training programs for learners. The
easy access that computers can provide to courses, lectures, and workshops opens so many doors for isolated
Indigenous learners. This does not take away from the face-to-face support and the physical community
learning space, in fact, the technology can strengthen these programs by drawing in more learners but with
less demand on the practitioner. Computer technology can also provide a platform for learners to receive
individual support, perhaps one-to-one tutoring to assist with the literacy and numeracy aspects of their
vocational training. Strength in this area is the availability of job/work readiness training programs. Using
computers as a means to train for positions where there are jobs but under-skilled potential employees is
another strong argument for better services and more access to computers for these communities.
The third benefit was the improved social networking and communication opportunities that will arise from
using computer technology. A practitioner gave an example where family members who had moved away from
close knit communities now would have a way of keeping in better touch with friends and family members and “stay
connected” to their home community.
A final topic of interest for the focus group around how computer technology could change the way we
support learners, was a discussion of the opportunities for professional development of practitioners who work in
similar fields but are separated by distance. Professional development opportunities for remote practitioners are
often few and far between, however, with computer technologies, the practitioners could have access to workshops,
conferences, and online sharing circles.
These four ways in which practitioners can potentially better support learners through technology are both
promising and exciting. Practitioners realize, however, the realities of working with computer technology and
highlighted some concerns. A major consideration when attempting to use computers in Indigenous communities is
access, and for the majority of these communities there are logistic challenges in finding a workspace, purchasing
equipment, connecting to the internet, and that is just the beginning. The cost factor is always an issue, especially
when it comes to literacy projects, so access becomes a barrier to the computer technology. Second is the need for
technical support once the problem of gaining access has been solved. The third potential barrier to using computers
to effectively support learners that was identified by the practitioners was effective training opportunities. Training
opportunities would be needed for the practitioners who would be using the technology with learners. Competent
and confident online instructors lead to students with similar attributes. The topic of effective training also includes
the training that would be provided to the learners:
The next thing we have to do is to make it effective training so we have to find a way of making the training work
in the communities. If we are giving training to six or seven different communities using online training at the
same time, which is what one assumes that we'll be doing, we also have to make sure that what we're saying has
relevance to each community. And I reckon that would take a whole lot of relevant research in that area.
OPFG_Robert_24/09
Although the practitioners identified these three potential barriers, they also shared hope for future
applications as well. Despite the obvious concerns of implementation, costs, maintenance and training, the positive
implications for effectively supporting technology use by Indigenous learners was summarized beautifully by one
respondent:
I feel as though that the experience that you can have through computers is that there is incredible mediacy (active
and creative products of media)…and that it's a little bit like drawing, that you have that sort of impact… and
even though it never…it won't replace being in front of a person and hearing the vibrations and the sound of their
voice and looking into someone's eyes, it enables to cut through a lot of layers that you know…through books or
through distance can isolate people. So using computers and technology can spark creativity and a sense of hope
that starts a little kindling of fire within people that they want to go and meet those people that they want to go to
those places and actually move towards exposing themselves to something new. So I think you know this is what
the technology can do. OPFG_Kelvin_24/09
Conclusion
There is a wealth of knowledge, expertise and opinions to be gained from providing a forum for literacy
practitioners to come together and share their experiences. Fahy and Twiss (2010) accessed these valuable insights
through a study which looked at how Canadian literacy practitioners view the use of online technology for their own
professional development. The findings of their study suggest that many of these practitioners recognize the
potential of using online technologies particularly because it saved time and money and increased access to
opportunities for training and interaction.
While reflecting on the training issues for literacy practitioners is important, too often the adult literacy
practitioner, the front-line worker, has been overlooked in research and policy designed to improve the generally
low literacy levels among many Indigenous people in Australia. This study has shown that literacy practitioners
develop, through their work experiences, very specific and strongly held views on the literacy needs of the
Indigenous community in which they are employed. These views of practitioners are very likely shaped by their own
backgrounds and the specific geographical, economic and cultural situation in the communities they are familiar
with. Practitioners’ views are not necessarily ‘correct’ in any sense, and may differ somewhat from community
members’ views (Eady, in prep.), but they tend to be held passionately, as seen here and in the study by Batell et al.,
(2004). It is practitioners’ views about what the needs are, that lead them to try out specific educational strategies. A
number of such teaching approaches were described by practitioners in this study, including using culturally relevant
approaches, working towards community development, and developing mentoring arrangements. Computer
technology had been used with Indigenous learners by all but one of the practitioners, often to support real-life
literacy skills. Despite typical current inadequacies in hardware, software, technical support in communities,
practitioners were generally optimistic and open-minded about the potential for computer technology, including
synchronous technology, to improve literacy skills, access to training, and social cohesion. It is worth remembering
that this last finding may or may not be generally true of literacy practitioners working in Indigenous communities,
since the focus group participants in this study were volunteers willing and interested to take part in an online focus
group.
In this study, and in a recent Canadian project (Getting Online Project, 2008), many literacy practitioners
have identified a place for online learning in their future work in the literacy field. Literacy practitioners have a
voice that needs to be heard in the negotiations and decision making around curricula and approaches to literacy
learning and technology in their own field. The shared knowledge of these practitioners has the influence to allow us
to move towards lessening the literacy gap in positive, constructive and meaningful ways.
References
Anderson, T., & Kanuka, H. (2003). E-research: Methods, strategies, and issues. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
Antone, E., Gamlin, P., Sinclair, M., Turchetti, L., Robbins, J., & Paulsen, R. (2002). What is Native Literacy? Retrieved March
01, 2008 from http://www.oise.utoronto.ca/CASAE/cnf2002/2002_Papers/sym-antone&etal2002w.pdf.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). (2006), Australia: Highest year of school completed by Indigenous status by sex.
Retrieved April 16, 2009 from http://www.censusdata.abs.gov.au.
Australian Institute for Social Research (AISR) (2006) The digital divide – Barriers to e-learning. Retrieved March 10, 2008
from http://www.ala.asn.au/research/Barriers%20%20by%20Digital%20Bridge%20Unit%20and%20undertaken%20by%20
Australian%20Institute%20of%20Social%20Research.pdf.
Battell, E., Gesser, L., Rose, J., Sawyer, J.,& Twiss, D. (2004). Hardwired for Hope: Effective ABE/Literacy Instructors.
Nanaimo, BC: Malaspina Univeristy-College. Retrieved April 17, 2010 from http://www.nald.ca/ripal
Battiste, M. (2008). The decolonization of Aboriginal education: Dialogue, reflection, and action in Canada. In P. R. Dasen &
A. Akkari (Eds.), Educational Theories and Practices from the Majority World (pp. 168 – 195). New Delhi: Sage
Publications.
Christie, M. (2005). Aboriginal knowledge on the Internet. Researching Our Practice Conference. Batchelor Institute. Retrieved
November 12, 2008 from http://www.cdu.edu.au/centres/ik/pdf/AbKnowInternet.pdf
Donovan, M. (2007). Can information communication technological tools be used to suit Aboriginal learning pedagogies? In L.
E. Dyson, M. Hendricks, & S. Grant (Eds.), Information technology and Indigenous people (pp. 93-104). Hershey, PA:
Information Science Publishing.
Eady, M. (2004). Building a solid framework: Online mentoring for adult literacy learners in Northwestern Ontario – An action
research study and recommendations for implementation. Unpublished Research, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, ON.
Eady, M. (in prep.). Using Synchronous Technologies to Support Self-Identified Literacy Needs of Indigenous Communities. PhD
thesis, University of Wollongong, Australia.
Eady, M., Herrington, A. & Jones, C. (2009). Establishing Design Principles for Online Synchronous Literacy Learning for
Indigenous Learners. In Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and
Telecommunications 2009 (pp. 1049-1054). Chesapeake, VA: AACE. Retrieved September, 25 2009 from
http://www.editlib.org/p/31619.
Fahy, P.J., & Twiss, D. (2010). Adult literacy practitioners’ uses of and experiences with online technologies for
professional development. Journal of Applied Research on Learning, 3, 1-18.
George, P. (1997) Vision: Guiding Indigenous Literacy. Owen Sound, ON: Ningwakwe Learning Press.
Getting Online Project. (2008). Getting online: A research report on online learning for Canadian literacy practitioners.
Retrieved April 15 2010 from www.nald.ca/gettingonline
Greenall, D. (2005). Formative evaluation of the Sunchild E-Learning Community. Ottawa, ON: The Conference Board of
Canada.
Ivocalize web conference (2002). Seattle, WA: iVocalize LLC.
Kral, I., & Schwab, R. (2003). The Realities of Aboriginal Adult Literacy Acquisition and Practice: Implications for Remote
Community Capacity Building. Retrieved March 18, 2008 from
http://dspace.anu.edu.au/bitstream/1885/39964/2/2003_DP257.pdf.
Marlow, C. (2005). Research methods for generalist social work. Belmont, CA: Thomson, Brooks/Cole.
Masters, G. (2007). A world class education system? Evidence from PISA 2006. ACER eNews. Retrieved May 10, 2010 from
http://www.acer.edu.au/enews/2007/12/a-world-class-education-system-evidence-from-pisa-2006
McMullen, B. and A. Rohrbach (2003). Distance education in remote aboriginal communities: Barriers, learning styles and best
practices. Prince George, BC: College of Caledonia Press.
National Aboriginal Design Committee (NADC). (2002). Position paper on Aboriginal literacy. Retrieved March 8, 2008, from
www.nald.ca/fulltext/position/position.pdf.
Paulsen, R. (2003). Native literacy: A living language. Canadian Journal of Native Education, 27(1), 23 - 28.
Ramanujam, P. (2002). Distance open learning - Challenges to developing countries. Delhi: Shipra Publications.
Ryan, G., & Bernard, H. (2000). Data management and analysis methods. In N. Denzin & Y. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of
qualitative research 2nd ed., (pp. 768-802). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Inc.
Sawyer, G. (2004). Closing the digital divide: Increasing education and training opportunities for Indigenous students in
remote areas. Retrieved March 9, 2008 from
http://pre2005.flexiblelearning.net.au/projects/media/digitaldivide_projectreport.pdf.
Stake, R. (2000). Case studies. In N. Denzin & Y. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp. 435-454). Thousand
Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Inc.
Taylor, A. (1997). Literacy and the new workplace: The fit between employment-oriented literacy and Aboriginal language-use.
British Journal of Sociology of Education 18(1), 63-80.
United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). (2008). Education For All by 2015: Will We Make
It? Retrieved 10 May 2010, from http://www.unesco.org/en/efareport/reports/2008-mid-term-review/
United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). (2010). Education For All – Global Monitoring
Report: Reaching the Marginalized. Retrieved 10 May, 2010 from http://www.unesco.org/en/efareport/reports/2010-
marginalization/
Young, M., Robertson, P., Sawyer G., & Guenther, J. (2005). Desert disconnections: Desert learning and remote Indigenous
peoples. Australia Flexible Learning Network. Retrieved November 10, 2008 from:
http://www.icat.org.au/media/Research/telecommunications/desertdisconnections-elearning-and-remote-Indigenouspeoples-
2005-AFLF.pdf.
Acknowledgements
This research is supported in part by a generous grant from the Digital Bridge Unit, Department of Further Education,
Employment Science and Technology, Government of South Australia. The researchers would also like to acknowledge the
Australian Council for Adult Learning, Debbie Soccio, Sioux Hudson Literacy Council, Contact North/Contact Nord, and
practitioners and Indigenous community members involved in this project. Ethics number HE08/195.
... There were a total of approximately 2,610 participants among 19 studies that reported participant numbers; six studies did not record the number of participants [3,15,17,19,20,27] . Twelve studies focused on young children and adolescents. ...
... Six key objectives are identified among the 25 studies. They include: 1) investigating the effect (quantitative) and impact (qualitative) of digital technology-based interventions on Indigenous children's early literacy skills in English [3,28,[49][50][51] ; 2) investigating the effect and impact of digital technology-based interventions on the digital literacy development of Indigenous people [15,22] ; 3) investigating the effect and impact of digital technology-based interventions on multiliteracies [18,24] ; 4) investigating participants' digital technology use for their everyday language and literacy in English, digital literacy, and multiliteracies practices [4,11,20,27,32] ; 5) investigating Indigenous people's perspectives or feedback on digital technology-based interventions, including the perceived effects on a variety of language and literacy skills, as noted above [23,29,35,53] ; and 6) investigating language and literacy educators' perspectives or feedback on digital technology usage and interventions for the language and literacy development of Indigenous people [9,17,19,36,37,42,43] . ...
... Four studies looked into teachers' views on the training and support they received for researcher-initiated efforts, including the ABRA intervention and PLUS program [17,22,43,50] . Finally, Eady et al. [19] investigated literacy practitioners' perspectives on Indigenous adult learners' literacy needs with ICT support, and Thanabalan et al. [42] obtained the opinions of English language educators and experts of ESL curriculum and community knowledge for the digital storytelling module design for primary school students' learning of English as a foreign language (EFL). ...
Article
Indigenous people have experienced negative inter-generational impacts of colonization and socioeconomic stress, which has led to persistent subpar academic performance compared to non-Indigenous populations. This has prevented them from graduating high school and pursuing post-secondary education and professional opportunities. One of their most critical challenges is obtaining adequate language and literacy skills required for success in school and at work. Thus, by a thorough review of 25 empirical studies, this article examines the evidence for the efficacy of using digital technologies to support Indigenous people's learning of language and literacy skills This research synthesis provides a profile of the studies’ comprehensive attributes and responds to five research questions that focus on the effects of, and Indigenous people and educators’ perspectives on, digital technology use for Indigenous people's learning of language and literacy skills. This article provides insights for teaching practice, and also identifies gaps for future research, instructional designs, and implementations that are urgently needed to support Indigenous people, particularly the language and literacy development of Indigenous school children and youth.
... Several studies have examined the influence of digital resources on adult literacy skills. Eady, Herrington, & Jones (2010), for instance, developed computer applications that incorporated literacy skill-building opportunities, finding that the learners were proficient in the use of the application. Electronic dictionaries have supported learners to better understand contentspecific vocabulary, which then improved literacy skills (Silver-Pacuilla, 2006). ...
... It is interesting that access to OER resources did not significantly influence functional literacy. These findings appear to differ from those of Eady, Herrington, & Jones (2010) and Silver-Pacuilla (2006), who found the effectiveness of institutionalized ICTs in improving literacy. The differences in findings may be due to the assumption in OER packages that users possess a minimum set of digital skills, thus putting the onus of intelligibility and productive usage on the users, which may vary considerably in low-income marginalized populations. ...
Article
Full-text available
Open educational resources (OER) have traditionally examined the use of digital technologies such as computers in institutional environments such as formal classrooms, finding evidence of student participation but also significant pedagogical barriers. This study broadens the examination by (a) including access to OER via mobile phones, and (b) understanding the impact on livelihood outcomes such as functional literacy and employability. A survey was conducted amongst female migrant domestic workers (n=100) enrolled in the Indonesian Open University in Singapore. Results indicate that digital skills (mobile and computer) are positively related to functional literacy, while access to OER via computers at the institution in a formal learning context is positively related to employability. The study concludes with a discussion on the policy implications for digital skills training in mobile devices for marginalized populations, and further evidence to bolster the positive effects of OERs on livelihood outcomes.
... Regarding this, it is important for all adult literacy practitioners in the country to realise that the 21 st century paradigm of literacy and learning has emerged from the sociocultural based research. Which brings to the scholarship the following ideas: (1) the multiliteracies as opposed to a single view of literacy (Eady, Herrington, & Jones, 2010;Perry & Homan, 2015); and (2) the idea that teaching and learning are learner-centred as opposed to teacher-centred and have been found beneficial for improving both teaching and learning (Choi, van Merriënboer, & Paas, 2014;Cleveland & Fisher, 2013;Girvan, Conneely, & Tangney, 2016;Kazanjian & Choi, 2016). Therefore, these changes should ultimately foster the need to rethink the theoretical and practical views on literacy, which should also affect pedagogy. ...
Article
Full-text available
This study sought to explore the integration of the socially constructed pedagogy in adult literacy classes by the adult literacy learning facilitators in Mkushi District of Zambia, under the Department of Community Development. The study focused on the teaching of farming literacies to small scale farmers as recommended by the Department of Community Development. This study sought to answer two research questions: The first question aimed at finding out how the adult literacy learning facilitators socially constructed pedagogy, and the second research question focused on understanding how the socially constructed pedagogy was integrated into the teaching of farming literacies. This study followed a qualitative research approach and data was collected through face-to-face interviews and class observations of the adult literacy learning facilitators. The findings of the study show a concentration on school based literacy skills of reading and writing, with minimal emphasis on the application of these skills in real life. In addition, not all facilitators were able to socially construct pedagogy because they lacked training in adult learning pedagogy. Instead, they relied on how they were taught when they were in secondary school and in college. For those who were able to construct pedagogy, they applied 244 it in a situated manner, largely characterised by locally generated resources and practices. This approach was seemingly responsible for fostering a sense of belonging and ownership of the teaching-learning activities exhibited by the adult learners. The facilitators incorporated some of the locally based literacy practices in their effort to make learning relevant to the adult learners. The study concluded that the ideal platform for the integration of the socially constructed pedagogy in adult literacy classes is by adhering to the adult learning principle of beginning from the perspective of the adult learners as opposed to applying the one-size-fits all pedagogy. The study also included that literacy and learning are situated practices, and there is not one universal pedagogy but multiple situated pedagogies. Therefore, the study recommended the need for regular evaluation of pedagogies applied in adult literacy classes which should be followed by regular professional development of the facilitators in adult learning pedagogy. This may also involve regular refresher courses for those already trained in adult learning pedagogy.
... A pedagogical paradigm shift is required to develop effective education and training programmes intended for Indigenous learners. Direction for this change is best sought through the insights of the local experts regarding the lived reality of remote area learners, that is to say from community-based Aboriginal people themselves (Boulton-Lewis et al., 1999;Byrnes, 1993;Eady et al., 2010;Hills, 1999;NCVER, 2005). Before colonisation, Aboriginal people were masters of their world and lived harmoniously on their lands for countless generations (McIsaac, 2000). ...
Article
The Australian Government (AG) employs Indigenous Engagement Officers (IEO) in many of the remote Aboriginal communities of the Northern Territory (NT). IEOs are respected community members who apply their deep understanding of local tradition, language and politics in providing expert cultural advice to government. Competing priorities of workplace and cultural obligation make the IEO role stressful and dichotomous in nature. The workplace experiences and perceptions of IEOs remain largely unexplored and there is scant understanding of the significant crosscultural issues associated with the role. IEOs typically confront ongoing workplace stress and are unable to perform at full capacity. This qualitative study explores participant meaning regarding workplace and community roles to inform the AG in development of culturally appropriate training and support for IEOs. The study captures detailed information from six IEOs through an interpretive process sensitive to phenomenological experience. Personal meanings associated with the workplace are assembled through individual interviews and focus group sessions. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis methodology is applied to the resulting idiographic dataset in exposing a range of superordinate themes including desire for recognition and feelings of abandonment. Findings reveal the need to incorporate correct cultural protocols in the workplace and give preference for Aboriginal learning styles in professional development activities. There is urgent need for a range of workplace supports for IEOs in future capacity-building strategies.
... Some publications adopted two or more research methods, thus the total number for frequency of methods is more than 166. For instance, Michelle Eady and colleagues used both survey and interviews in their study (Eady, Herrington, & Jones, 2010). Edwin Mit and colleagues employed both field study and survey methods in their research (Mit, Borhan, & Khairuddin, 2012). ...
Article
This paper presents an examination of research on Indigenous people and information and communications technology by surveying the landscape of existing studies. A literature review of the relevant 166 publications worldwide from 1995 to 2013 inclusive was performed, and bibliometrics were applied to identify the trends of research in terms of amount of yearly articles, names of authors and their affiliations, financial support status and research methods. Content analysis was used to identify major research topics. Findings show that the amount of relevant publications fluctuated almost every year, with the highest number of publications in 2007. International Information & Library Review was the most prolific journal publishing a wide range of articles in the area, and Laurel Evelyn Dyson from Australia was the most productive author. Only 9% of the publications reported explicitly that they were financially supported. Multiple empirical methods were used for the investigation, including case studies and surveys. Indigenous cultural and knowledge preservation, Indigenous literacy and education development, Indigenous people’s interactions with technologies, and the digital divide issues were identified as four main research topics. On the basis of the review, future research directions from an information research perspective are discussed.
Article
This case study examines the growth of criticality in three English as a Foreign Language (EFL) learners through a hybrid course design which involves a translanguaging space for the development of reading and listening skills. Throughout the course, the learners were encouraged to deal with multimodal materials presented both in Turkish and English in line with translanguaging pedagogy. They were guided to use their full linguistic repertoire in digitally enriched translanguaging space and critically analyze the reading materials in group discussions and reflective writing activities. An exploratory approach is adopted, based upon a series of interviews with EFL learners, observations of their contributions to face-to-face debate lessons, and their reflective papers. All three learners developed criticality to varying degrees. Having discussed the significance of translanguaging in the development of criticality, we introduce implications for the relationship between criticality, translanguaging, and technology for fostering criticality of EFL learners are discussed. Then, we present pedagogical implications for teachers and teacher educators as to how fuller understanding and deep learning can be engendered in asynchronous sessions, and how digiticality (digitally-enriched criticality) can be fostered by a hybrid translanguaging space. Implications from these findings may be used to inform classroom pedagogy.
Book
Full-text available
This study aimed to design a framework to improve technological skills transfer using adult education approaches amongst emerging farmers. Amongst several educational challenges emerging farmers are faced with, the situation of study materials is less responsive to addressing practical situations of each farmer’s farming conditions. In most cases, the mode of teaching emerging farmers is teacher-based, similar to that of teacher-centred. Many agricultural education curricula are unresponsive to socio-economic, technological, physical and environmental changes and are inappropriate for the local context. Teaching methods are traditional lectures, and there is a lack of complementary practical training. Current conventional learning paradigms make Emerging farmers relatively passive receivers of information, which does not encourage critical thinking skills. Traditional agricultural knowledge (TAK) is indigenous knowledge to the native people of Southern Africa, who are emerging farmers. This knowledge has been perpetuated for many years from generation to generation and has survived many families who cannot afford modern technologies. This knowledge is embedded in the hearts and minds of the ageing people of Africa and is freely available to them. The challenge is that this knowledge is in danger of disappearing, along with the ageing population. Euro-American educations systems of many African countries promote western methods and ways and appear not to cater for indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) and seem to be mostly rhetorical. School leavers, graduates and professionals tend to distance themselves from their cultures and traditions, leaving little or no space for IKS. The majority of agricultural advisors are no exception to this phenomenon. To resuscitate this knowledge, the study theorising in Bricolage employ participatory action research. Engagements took place during scheduled meetings of the Department of Agriculture between the Emerging farmers and the Agricultural advisors and educators as department officials. The agricultural advisors have stated that emerging farmers are reluctant to adopt the new modern methods that they advise on. They also indicated that little is applied to what they have been taught in most of the training emerging farmers attend. Furthermore, they also indicated the issue of emerging farmers from various cultural standpoints and how their own belief in merging farmers could affect how they do things differently based on their tribal affiliation. Agricultural advisors indicate that emerging farmers prefer their old ways of doing things and do not pay much attention to modern technologies. Agricultural advisors are of the view that should emerging farmers adopt new ways; their production would improve. They indicate that the old way of doing things takes too long to complete the task, compared to the modern methods. It is worth noting that the modern ways come with massive expenditure to the emerging farmers and require expensive instruments and materials in most cases. Many of these emerging farmers are proved to be old and are pensioners. Their pension grants are the only source of income. Most of their enterprises do not make enough returns or break even to afford sufficient profits to procure modern equipment or modern services. Thus, they rely on the indigenous knowledge that is free for them to access and use the equipment they have and can access to solve their problems. Therefore, activity theories of agricultural education concerning traditional or indigenous knowledge need an urgent review. The focus or motivation behind agricultural teaching and learning is the cognisance of local content and indigenous knowledge. Emerging farmers who can demonstrate an informed understanding of core areas of one or more fields of those in which they are participating, if afforded the chance, could significantly contribute to the knowledge of fellow emerging farmers. This could be implemented during agricultural extension approaches, such as farmer-to-farmer (where experienced farmers mentor and train other farmers). It also includes the study groups (common commodity or field knowledge is shared amongst farmers of the same interest), farmers days (a form of agricultural outreach where information is made available to the farmers) and facilitated demonstrations. Agricultural extension approaches are useful educational resources suitable for teaching and learning emerging farmers and should reflect the effectiveness, confidence, and competence to achieve instructional goals and objectives.
Article
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous) health professionals working in the alcohol and other drugs field perform a complex role in tackling substance misuse and related harms. Professional training and development opportunities for these “frontline” Indigenous alcohol and other drugs staff is key to prevent burnout and to allow them to work to their full potential. However, there are many barriers for those seeking to improve their skills. A number of teaching approaches have been described as important, but we were unable to identify peer-reviewed publications that detail the optimal approach to tailor university learning to meet the needs of Indigenous alcohol and other drugs health professionals. This article reflects on the experience of providing one such programme: a graduate diploma in Indigenous health and substance use, designed and delivered specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mature-aged students.
Thesis
Full-text available
This study aimed to design a framework to improve technological skills transfer using adult education approaches amongst emerging farmers (EFs). Amongst several educational challenges emerging farmers are faced with, the situation of study materials is less responsive to addressing practical situations of each farmer’s farming conditions. In most cases, the mode of teaching EFsis teacher-based, similar to that of teacher-centred. Many agricultural education curricula are unresponsive to socio-economic, technological, physical and environmental changes and are inappropriate for the local context. Teaching methods are traditional lectures, and there is a lack of complementary practical training. Current conventional learning paradigms make EFs relatively passive receivers of information, which does not encourage critical thinking skills. Traditional agricultural knowledge (TAK) is indigenous knowledge to the native people of Southern Africa, who are the EFs. This knowledge has been perpetuated for many years from generation to generation and has survived many families who cannot afford modern technologies. This knowledge is embedded in the hearts and minds of the ageing people of Africa and is freely available to them. The challenge is that this knowledge is in danger of disappearing, along with the ageing population. Euro-American educations systems of many African countries promote western methods and ways and appear not to cater for indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) and seem to be mostly rhetorical. School leavers, graduates and professionals tend to distance themselves from their cultures and traditions, leaving little or no space for IKS. The majority of agricultural advisors are no exception to this phenomenon. To resuscitate this knowledge, the study theorising in Bricolage employ participatory action research. Engagements took place during scheduled meetings of the Department of Agriculture between the EFs and the Agricultural advisors and educators as department officials. The agricultural advisors have stated that EFs are reluctant to adopt the new modern methods that they advise on. They also indicated that in most of the training EFs attend, little is applied to what they have been taught. Furthermore, they also indicated the issue of EFs from various cultural standpoints and how their own beliefs could affect how they do things differently from one another based on their tribal affiliation. Agricultural advisors indicate that EFs seem to prefer their old ways of doing things and do not pay much attention to modern technologies. Agricultural advisors are of the view that should EFs adopt new ways; their production would improve. They indicate that the old way of doing things takes too long to complete the task, compared to the modern methods. It is worth noting that the modern ways come with massive expenditure to the EFs and require expensive instruments and materials in most cases. Many of these EFs are proved to be old and are pensioners. Their pension grants are the only source of income. Most of their enterprises do not make enough returns or break even to afford sufficient profits to procure modern equipment or modern services. Thus, they rely on the indigenous knowledge that is free for them to access and use the equipment they have and can access to solve their problems. Therefore, activity theories of agricultural education concerning traditional or indigenous knowledge need an urgent review. The focus or motivation behind agricultural teaching and learning is the cognisance of local content and indigenous knowledge. Emerging farmers who can demonstrate an informed understanding of core areas of one or more fields of those in which they are participating, if afforded the chance, could significantly contribute to the knowledge of fellow emerging farmers. This could be implemented during agricultural extension approaches, such as farmer-to-farmer (where experienced farmers mentor and train other farmers). It also includes the study groups (common commodity or field knowledge is shared amongst farmers of the same interest), farmers days (a form of agricultural outreach where information is made available to the farmers) and facilitated demonstrations. Agricultural extension approaches are useful educational resources suitable for teaching and learning emerging farmers and should reflect the effectiveness, confidence, and competence to achieve instructional goals and objectives. The study theorising in Bricolage employ participatory action research methodology. Engagements took place during scheduled meetings of the Department of Agriculture between the EFs and the Agricultural advisors and educators as co-researchers. The agricultural advisors have stated that EFs are reluctant to adopt the new modern methods that they advise on. They also indicated that in most of the training EFs attend, little is applied of what they have been taught. Furthermore, they also indicated the issue of EFs from various cultural standpoints. Moreover, how their own beliefs could affect how they do things differently from one another based xi on their tribal affiliation. Agricultural advisors indicated that EFs seem to prefer their old ways of doing things and do not pay much attention to new, modern technologies. Agricultural advisors are of the view that should EFs adopt new ways their production would improve. They are of a view that the old way of doing things takes too long to complete the task, compared to the modern methods. It is worth noting that the modern ways come with huge expenditure to the EFs and which require expensive instruments and materials in most cases. Many of these EFs are proved to be of old age and are pensioners. Their pension grants are the only source of income. Most of their enterprises do not make enough returns or break even so as to afford sufficient profits to procure modern equipment or modern services. Thus, they rely on their indigenous knowledge that is free for them to access. Moreover, which allows them to make use of the equipment they have and can access to solve their own problems. Activity theories of agricultural education in relation to traditional or indigenous knowledge need an urgent review. The focus or motivation behind agricultural teaching and learning has to take cognisance of local content and indigenous knowledge. Emerging farmers who are able to demonstrate an informed understanding of core areas of one or more fields of those in which they are participating,if afforded the chance, could significantly contribute to the knowledge of fellow emerging farmers.This could be implemented during agricultural extension approaches, such as farmer-to-farmer (where experienced farmer mentor and train other farmers) engagement, study groups (common commodity or field knowledge is shared amongst farmers of the same interest), farmers days (a form of agricultural outreach where information is made available to the farmers) and facilitated demonstrations. Agricultural extension approaches are useful educational resources that are suitable in the teaching and learning of emerging farmers and should reflect the effectiveness, confidence and competence to achieve instructional goals and objectives. The study revealed that successes could be achieved should the tried and tested Adult Education be correctly implemented and supported with the experts or intellectuals depowering themselves.
Article
Full-text available
Indigenous peoples are some of the most disadvantaged groups globally; Australian aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are no different. Much of their lack of success can be related to the inappropriate educational practices directed at them through non-indigenous pedagogical filters of the Australian educational systems. There is a need for some pedagogical change to suit the needs and learning pedagogies of aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. By accessing information communication technologies (ICT), aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities can improve their educational outcomes. They can design educational programs with aboriginal pedagogies at the forefront to suit their needs using ICT. Outcamp ICT learning centres, placed where aboriginal communities can gain easy access to them and staffed with educators who can help facilitate the development of learning skills, are one solution to improving educational achievement.
Article
Full-text available
http://www.icat.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Desert-disconnections-elearning-remote-indigenouspeoples-2005.pdf
Chapter
Education is not just in a state of a crisis for Aboriginal peoples, but in a state of crisis for Canadians in general. My essay offers an analysis and conclusions regarding these crises, raising issues and questions I consider necessary for educational reform in Aboriginal education in particular and in education in general. Each crisis can benefit from an ethical and inclusive decolonized practice of education. Several themes in my paper diverge into three different currents, but then converge in one stream. The first theme deals with the educational context in which Aboriginal students in Canada are situated and points to a critical failure in Canadian education. The second focuses on the curricula or the knowledge base of education that Canadians receive and the false assumptions that create the foundations of colonial thought and its destructive practice. The last theme, politically grounded in reflection, dialogue, and action, urges conscientization and collective action to transform theory and practice in education to make cogent educational policies and reform in Indigenous education. The struggles to unravel colonial education will require multiple responses in multiple sites. It will require individuals and groups to engage in conscientization, resistance, and transformational praxis (Smith, 1997), not just in areas where peoples are dispossessed of their voice, cultural identity, and heritage or are in poverty, marginalized, and powerless. More importantly, reform and change will require everyone involved in policy, leadership, and educational practice to acknowledge and reexamine the foundations of their cognitive dependencies on Eurocentric ideologies, opening themselves to a wide-range of knowledge and perspectives drawn from diverse experience and cultures. I also challenge commonly held assumptions that Indigenous knowledge is not compatible and relevant to a contemporary education system and has no benefits for the transformation of Aboriginal and Indigenous peoples at large. Finally, I urge a process of respect in the dialogue and in the development of postcolonial strategies for Aboriginal and Indigenous peoples at large and for non-Indigenous educators.
Article
Getting Online (GO) was a national project, funded by the Offi ce of Literacy and Essential Skills (OLES), with two phases: 1) a survey of active adult literacy workers in Canada regarding their experiences with and expectations of various forms of online professional development (PD); and 2) based on the survey fi ndings, development and piloting of online training to selected literacy practitioners in the use of online tools and strategies for PD. Adult literacy workers have historically (and, as our research showed, anecdotally) been regarded as indifferent to technology for their own learning; however, no research on this specifi c question was found in the literature. This paper reports on the GO Project's fi rst phase, a survey of a national sample of 84 active Canadian adult literacy workers. The survey included an online questionnaire, supplemented by key informant interviews and two focus groups. Findings, identifi ed from qualitative analysis of survey and interview results, suggested that many Canadian literacy workers already recognize the potential value of online technologies and distance access methods. Online training was particularly viewed by these respondents as saving time and money, and increasing access to and opportunities for training and interaction. The reservations most commonly heard from respondents included lack of access to technology and technical support, diffuse negative views of distance education as a method of learning, and concerns about communications using technology. The paper concludes with a discussion of some of the fi ndings in relation to understanding of the general training needs of poorly resourced adult workers, such as those who participated in the GO Project (http://www.nald.ca/gettingonline).
Article
Aboriginal literacy encompasses oral tradition, culture, language, identity, and world view in addition to the written word, and is a process of lifelong learning, much of which occurs beyond school walls. When defining Native literacy, one must move away from measuring Aboriginal students by Euro-Western definitions and move toward a balanced, noncompetitive relationship between the cultures. (Contains 41 references.) (TD)
Article
In recent years there has been much comment on the value‐laden and particularly political nature of language and literacy and the manner in which literacy is embedded in particular socio‐cultural systems. It is argued here that the non‐neutrality of literacy is evident in the contemporary positioning of adult language and literacy instruction within the rhetoric of current employment‐related concerns. These concerns privilege a particular vision of the workplace and workforce and these ideas have become embedded in competency‐based language and literacy schemata. In this paper, assumptions regarding the nature of workers’ participation in the ‘new’ workplace in such schemata are identified. In particular, the degree to which the vision of participation, as measured by specified language and literacy competence for the workplace, is likely to be shared by Aboriginal Australians in both remote and settled Australia is considered. Related factors impinging on adult Aboriginal acquisition and demonstrations of language and literacy competence in this context are discussed.
E-research: Methods, strategies, and issues
  • T Anderson
  • H Kanuka
Anderson, T., & Kanuka, H. (2003). E-research: Methods, strategies, and issues. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.