First Nations Technological divide - 511

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<ul><li><p>8/14/2019 First Nations Technological divide - 511</p><p> 1/12</p><p>First Nations Technological Divide 1</p><p>First Nations Technological Divide</p><p>Kevin Kaiser 88480975</p><p>University of British Columbia</p><p>ETEC 511 64B</p><p>Marianne Justus, Ph.D.</p><p>November 29, 2006</p></li><li><p>8/14/2019 First Nations Technological divide - 511</p><p> 2/12</p><p>First Nations Technological Divide 2</p><p>First Nations Technological Divide</p><p>Do the current plans for teacher training and governmental input place the focus</p><p>of First Nations education in line with the pressing needs of First Nations learners in the</p><p>current and looming digital age?</p><p>Introduction</p><p>In order for First Nations students to be successful in the current practice of</p><p>education, they need to be engaged in the material. Further, the curriculum must bridge</p><p>the old with the new, and embrace technological advances while respecting traditional</p><p>ways of knowledge. By mixing the old ways of knowing with technology, First Nations</p><p>learners can empower themselves and ensure that learning is not static. The current</p><p>educational divide with respect to First Nations education must be bridged by all levels of</p><p>government, and all First Nations organizations in Canada to incorporate real global</p><p>knowledge for the students.</p><p>Educational Divide</p><p>Historically, in Canada, there are many aspects of the education system that have</p><p>failed First Nations learners. From residential schools and the abuse tied to the residential</p><p>schools, to contemporary public schools and the low graduation rates. While it is easy to</p><p>track the numbers of failures, it is not so easy to track and pinpoint the successes. First</p><p>Nations people once spoke multiple languages just to do business with the surrounding</p><p>people and early settlers. This proved their capability to adapt to new surroundings and</p><p>thrive in a new world. Technology in First Nations education is another idea that is being</p><p>implemented in some schools, but it needs time, understanding and educated</p><p>professionals to reach its full potential for First Nations learners. Technology has the</p></li><li><p>8/14/2019 First Nations Technological divide - 511</p><p> 3/12</p><p>First Nations Technological Divide 3</p><p>capability to help many social aspects of life, but for this paper, educational technology</p><p>will be the focus. The various bands, all levels of government, the many students and</p><p>streamlined funding are needed to act harmoniously in order to achieve the success of</p><p>technological implementation with regard to First Nations learners.</p><p>Hiwarde and Rajyalakshmi state, The term digital divide refers to the socio-</p><p>economic difference between communities with regard to their access to computers and</p><p>the Internet. The term also refers to gaps between groups in their ability to use</p><p>Information Communication Technology (ICT) effectively, due to users' differing literacy</p><p>and technical skills, and the gap in availability of quality and useful digital content.</p><p>(Hiwarde and Rajyalakshmi, 2006) At the heart of the divide is the success rate of the</p><p>learners themselves. Dealing with First Nations education requires that the people</p><p>attempting to enhance graduation rates of First Nations learners fully understand the task.</p><p>Narrowing the digital divide will take incentives from all levels of government and</p><p>implementing the technologies that will respect and enhance First Nations culture.</p><p>Each level of government has its own incentive, and there must be viable reasons,</p><p>outside of the need to help First Nations youth, to implement real plans for the future of</p><p>First Nations youth. Hiwarde and Rajyalakshmi state, Bridging the digital divide also</p><p>means making sure that people, wherever they may live, can obtain access to digital</p><p>content that is localized, culturally relevant and available for use. (Hiwarde and</p><p>Rajyalakshmi, 2006) The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) state in their pre-budget,</p><p>The First Nations population is burgeoning, young, diverse and mobile. The First</p><p>Nations population is a potential resource to address labour shortages in Canada. (AFN,</p><p>2005. p.2) The incentive of the AFN is for the betterment of First Nations as a whole, but</p></li><li><p>8/14/2019 First Nations Technological divide - 511</p><p> 4/12</p><p>First Nations Technological Divide 4</p><p>they must place any money into viable, working options for the various communities </p><p>specifically teacher training. First Nations tribes across Canada are as diverse as the land</p><p>across Canada, and each has its own needs, but technology in education can be the one</p><p>common goal for all bands across Canada.</p><p>Implementing Strategies</p><p>The government of Canada funds organizations such as the AFN. This means that</p><p>the AFN must abide by the wishes of the Canadian government. Also, the AFN is</p><p>attempting to please the First Nations population with policies geared toward cultural</p><p>sustainability. This is a good and noble goal, but it comes at a large price to the</p><p>immediate needs of First Nations youth in terms of real help in providing a viable</p><p>relevant plan in an increasingly digital dependant education system and work force. With</p><p>3.9 billion dollars to work with, the AFN has the means to implement many strategies.</p><p>(AFN, 2006. p. 6).</p><p>The isolation that many of the First Nations reserves experience is part of the</p><p>problem that needs to be addressed by organizations like the AFN and the Canadian</p><p>government. One of the ways to overcome this issue, in terms of education, is distance</p><p>learning through the Internet. Various levels of government and First Nations</p><p>communities in partnership with businesses have to work together to make these plans</p><p>become a working reality.</p><p>First Nations Schoolnet (FNS) aimed to be part of the solution by bringing</p><p>knowledge of communication technologies through web based video, audio and text</p><p>conferencing. The program has been cut back, but there are positive aspects of the</p><p>program. More specifically, the FNS curriculum is comprised of two seventy-hour</p></li><li><p>8/14/2019 First Nations Technological divide - 511</p><p> 5/12</p><p>First Nations Technological Divide 5</p><p>courses that provide hands on experience in the IT sector. Specifically, students learn</p><p>how to build a computer, install and run operating systems and gain a base understanding</p><p>of local area network (LAN) architecture and networking protocols The IT Essentials</p><p>II course is also 70-hours in length and incorporates hands-on learning to give students an</p><p>overview of network operating systems. The course is a stepping stone to help prepare</p><p>students for careers in the IT field. This program fit the needs of the remote</p><p>communities and provided an entry point in a previously unexplored field for many First</p><p>Nations communities.</p><p>Public and private money was implemented to boost the use of the Internet in</p><p>remote communities across Canada. First Nations Schoolnet was the major project</p><p>implemented under this strategy. From 1993-1999, Industry Canada spent $7.3 million</p><p>to pay for one computer in each of the 420 schools to be connected to the satellite</p><p>technology DirectPCTMInitially, feedback was positive (Carr-Chellman, 2005).</p><p>While it seemed that a magic bullet for First Nations education was found, there were</p><p>usability barriers and lack of understanding implementing this initiative.</p><p>The First Nations Education Council did a comprehensive study on technology with</p><p>regards to First Nations schools. Their findings were reported in 2003. The top three</p><p>barriers to ICT usage are: lack of teacher training, outdated/slow/not enough equipment</p><p>and lack of knowledge on how to integrate ICTs into classroom/school use. (FNEC.</p><p>2003, p. 4). These findings are represented right across Canada, which means that there is</p><p>a general lack of understanding when technology and the classroom are concerned -</p><p>specifically with Schoolnet. The same study reports, Most schools listed at least one</p><p>main educational need of the school. The three most common responses from the schools</p></li><li><p>8/14/2019 First Nations Technological divide - 511</p><p> 6/12</p><p>First Nations Technological Divide 6</p><p>include: budget, training and space (lack). (FNEC. 2003 p. 9). The Ministry of</p><p>Education has spent time and money on Schoolnet, but there is a large divide on</p><p>effectively implementing the program Canada wide. Canadian students have been toted</p><p>as the trial students for Schoolnet, and even after the federal money has been stripped</p><p>down, educators must learn from what has worked and what has not worked with</p><p>Schoolnet. Teacher training and updating computers, with the majority of computers</p><p>being Pentium I, are essential before setting up any type of distance education course.</p><p>The key component to improving First Nations education with technology is</p><p>addressing the First Nations students needs. Many middle schools in British Columbia</p><p>are implementing a laptop program for all students in the grade seven year. In 2005 the</p><p>Ministry of Education provided $2.1 million to support 12 school districts in piloting the</p><p>use of wireless student laptop computers in schools. (Ministry of Education, 2005). First</p><p>Nations students, in remote areas, will be behind the rest of the student body once again</p><p>unless IT education is implemented quickly and efficiently. Thus, the school becomes</p><p>the key place where this technology is available for students to use and become</p><p>familiarized with. For this fact, the communities believe it is crucial that Internet access</p><p>as well as training be made available to the communities. (FNEC. 2003 p. 22).</p><p>If a First Nations student enters into the middle school years behind in IT skills,</p><p>that student will have a greater chance of dropping out of school altogether. Again, the</p><p>school system will have failed the First Nations community by failing to adequately</p><p>address the long-term needs of the learners. The whole point of IT solutions are to make</p><p>things easier for students to deal with the growing needs of the labour force. This is not</p><p>something that can sit on a shelf somewhere in Ottawa. This needs to be addressed to</p></li><li><p>8/14/2019 First Nations Technological divide - 511</p><p> 7/12</p><p>First Nations Technological Divide 7</p><p>ensure the mistakes of the past regarding First Nations learners and the public education</p><p>system are not repeated. By being proactive, the policies that are put forth will undergo</p><p>less scrutiny by the First Nations populace.</p><p>Many teachers get tired of the same rhetoric regarding First Nations education.</p><p>All too often First Nations youth slip through the cracks left open by teachers, and the</p><p>dropout rate continues to rise in First Nations communities. David Rattray stated the</p><p>uphill battle educators face when working with First Nations youth.</p><p>1) Pain at home... one or more parents with addictions.</p><p>2) Extreme skipping from classes....they may go to school and 'wander' the halls</p><p>much of the day.</p><p>3) When skipping, they usually go with one or two other students and smoke</p><p>pot/etc.</p><p>4) Can not focus for any length of time in a class before their problems surface</p><p>and they end up 'running around in circles' trying to solve problems they don't</p><p>have the skills/knowledge/attitudes to deal with.</p><p>5) Lots of drug, alcohol, violence, sexuality, stealing, selling.</p><p>6) Many suicidal and/or cutting.</p><p>7) A few are mentally challenged but not enough to qualify for serious behavioral</p><p>support.</p><p>8) They ALL 'want the pain to go away' Because of their behaviors/attitudes,</p><p>many teachers do not like working with these students....it's easy to</p><p>suspend/expel/do nothing with these students.</p><p>(D. Rattray, personal communication, November 23, 2006).</p></li><li><p>8/14/2019 First Nations Technological divide - 511</p><p> 8/12</p><p>First Nations Technological Divide 8</p><p>All of the technology in the world will not solve the problems of the</p><p>disadvantaged youth. There is a need for professionals that are able to not only implement</p><p>the technology, but professionals that can work with the technology. The First Nations</p><p>population is in dire need of people able to do both of these at once for a sustained period</p><p>of time. Too often people have had the right idea, but were without financial backing, or</p><p>they were in the financial position to do something, but did not have the right idea. There</p><p>are excellent programs available, but if they are not delivered with passion and relevance,</p><p>they will fail like every other program used as a magic bullet for First Nations education.</p><p>Working Initiatives</p><p>One very successful project that addresses the needs of a community is in Canim</p><p>Lake BC. Canim Lake has just over five hundred members, with seventy five percent</p><p>living on reserve. Canim Lake is partnership with Gonzaga University and UNBC where</p><p>the Universities allow the band members to complete a seven-year degree in business or</p><p>education without leaving the reserve. By allowing band members to earn a degree on the</p><p>reserve, the members will have more reason to stay and work on the reserve. They have</p><p>had twenty-one graduates from this course, and continue to enroll band members. This</p><p>scenario gives the youth some local people to emulate, and parents who set high</p><p>standards for their children. The success lies within the community being an active part of</p><p>the solution to First Nations education.</p><p>This shift in thinking towards Canadas remote communities by the Universities is</p><p>one of the very success stories that must be emulated across Canada. Dr. Jago states,</p><p>Rather than viewing these protocol agreements as concessions, UNBC sees them as</p><p>progressive and enlightened adaptations of established Western university traditions </p></li><li><p>8/14/2019 First Nations Technological divide - 511</p><p> 9/12</p><p>First Nations Technological Divide 9</p><p>adapted to the realities of a post-colonial society, where cultural diversity is celebrated</p><p>and different peoples are accorded respect. (Jago, Dr. Charles.) The helpful aspect of the</p><p>new technology is the fact that it is mobile, and it is immediate. Distance learning, online</p><p>learnings precursor, had too many problems to list, but the main problem was lack of</p><p>motivation, by the students, to finish the course. In a rather short time period, distance</p><p>learning has grown to suit the needs of the people taking courses at home, but as they</p><p>continue to evolve, they need to be implemented in the right places.</p><p>The Ministry of Education is one of the key players in First Nations education,</p><p>and even their most modest initiatives have had some success. Abnet, implemented by the</p><p>Ministry of Education, is a listserve that brings professionals together on one forum</p><p>where they can discuss First Nations issues relating to education. As a communication</p><p>tool, Abnet is shown to be effective for information-sharing and keeping people</p><p>connected throughout the province about Aboriginal education. In addition to providing a</p><p>discussion site on relevant issues and trends in Aboriginal education in British Columbia,</p><p>the listserve is used to post upcoming events, activities, current literature and information</p><p>about Aboriginal education here and in other jurisdictions. (Ministry of Education,</p><p>2005). To the many people that work with First Nations students, Abnet has proven to be</p><p>a good resource to share ideas, and address needs with w...</p></li></ul>