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Literacy Practitioners’ Perspectives on Adult Learning Needs and Technology Approaches in Indigenous Communities Michelle Eady University of Wollongong, Tony Herrington Curtin University. From Strength to Strength ACAL 1-3 October, Freemantle WA. Acknowledgement.

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from strength to strength acal 1 3 october freemantle wa
Literacy Practitioners’ Perspectives on Adult Learning Needs and Technology Approaches in Indigenous CommunitiesMichelle Eady University of Wollongong, Tony Herrington Curtin University

From Strength to Strength ACAL1-3 October, Freemantle WA


I would like to acknowledge all of the First Nation’s Learners and Practioners who have opened their hearts and minds to the idea of online Literacy Learning. I would like to acknowledge Aboriginal community members, the traditional custodians and owners of the land on which we meet here today. I would also like to acknowledge the elders both past and present of this and other nations represented here.

  • Canadian
  • University of Wollongong Alumni, 1996
  • Fort Severn
  • Northwest Territories
  • Sioux Lookout
  • Teacher, college (TAFE) instructor, distance projects coordinator
  • International Scholarship UoW – PhD in Education
history of project
History of Project
  • Responded to call out for proposals by Ministry of Training Colleges and University Ontario in Spring 2003
  • Sioux Hudson Literacy Council’s “Good Learning Anywhere” proposal and business plan accepted December 2003
  • Four organizations approved at this time for pilots to run from January 2004 to March 2005
  • Project continues and is funded through to March 2010
literacy in ontario
Literacy in Ontario
  • Streamed into categories
    • Anglophone
    • Francophone
    • Native
    • Deaf
  • Provincially funded, based on learner number, learner skills attainment
some comparisons
Some Comparisons…
  • Western Australia
    • 2,525,500 sq. km square kilometers
    • 1,600,000 people
    • Population density 0.84 people per square kilometre (2007)
  • Northwestern Ontario
    • 385,000 square kilometers
    • 234,771 people
    • Population density 0.6 people per square kilometre (2006)
canadian statistics
Canadian Statistics
  • 31% of Aboriginal people living on reserve in Ontario have less than Grade 9 or no formal education at all, compared to 10% in the non-Aboriginal population - more than triple the rate.

(Registered Indian Population by Region and Type of Residence, December 31, 2005. … , Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development – 2006).

  • Aboriginal high school graduation rates reports a 33% successful high school graduation rate compared to the “mainstream” population rate of 66% (Stats Can, 2001).
australian statistics
Australian Statistics
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics document entitled, “Aspects of Literacy: Assessed Skill Levels Australia -1996” reports approximately 44% of Indigenous Australians have low literacy levels in Standard Australian English, compared with 19% of non-Indigenous Australians (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1996).
  • Indigenous Australian people are much more likely to live in remote areas than the rest of the population, and that there is a higher level of urbanisation among the non-Indigenous population than the Indigenous population (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2002).
i am looking for some help
I am looking for some help…
  • I am looking for some volunteers who have worked or are currently working with Indigenous literacy learners who would like to participate in a focus group that will contribute to this research
  • Possibly two 1 hour focus groups to discuss what the literature says, and what you feel you know about working with Indigenous literacy learners
  • Please contact me if interested!

Michelle Eady

[email protected]

011 61 2 4221 3613 (no machine)

research design dbr
Research Design - DBR

Analysis of Practical Problems by Researchers and Practitioners in Collaboration

Development of Solutions Informed by Existing Design Principles and Technological Innovations

Iterative Cycles of Testing and Refinement of Solutions in Practice

Reflection to Produce “Design Principles” and Enhance Solution Implementation

Refinement of Problems, Solutions, Methods and Design Principles

Design-based Research

Design-based research approach (Reeves, 2006)

summarizing the theoretical framework

Theory –







Situated Learning

Theory – Lave and





Dominant Culture

Indigenous and

Ethnic Minorities


Workplace Culture



Design - Henderson

Summarizing the Theoretical Framework
Phase One

Phase Two

Phase Three

Phase Four

  • common themes in literature
  • - identify gaps

- first cycle of the collaborative community engagement

- connections between collaborative community engagement data and literature

- identify the guiding principles for designing and implementing synchronous literacy experiences for remote Indigenous learners

-identify framework

-qualitative approach

- Vygotsky, Lave and Wenger, Henderson, and Jarvis

development of the research questions and design

Proposals submitted

- newly revised collaborative community engagement delivered in second cycle

- after second cycle focus group will meet a final time

Approved research takes a turn back toward Phase 1

  • - interviews with distance literacy practitioners and community members
  • data integrated with reviewed literature
  • collaborative community engagement development process
  • created together with the community focus group
the research problem
The research problem

The vast majority of Australian Indigenous

learners, both urban and remote have low

literacy needed for personal and

employability goals and there is a need to

engage these learners in effective ways that

results in improvements of these statistics.

research questions
Research Questions
  • What are the literacy needs of an Indigenous community?
    • What are the perceived needs and approaches to these needs as shown in the literature?
    • What do literacy practitioners perceive to be the literacy needs in Indigenous communities?
  • What are the self-identified literacy needs in an Indigenous community?
    • What are the literacy needs of an Indigenous community as perceived by community members?
    • What types of support systems are available to the community?
  • How can self-identified literacy needs for an Indigenous community be supported by online synchronous learning technologies?
Phase 1
  • What are the literacy needs of an Indigenous community?
    • What are the perceived needs and approaches to these needs as shown in the literature?
    • What do literacy practitioners perceive to be the literacy needs in Indigenous communities?
online focus group research
Online Focus Group Research

Traditionally, focus groups, regardless of purpose, have been conducted in a face to face situation. But today, electronic communication technologies have enabled researchers to utilize new approaches to this form of research.

(Rezabek, 2000)

  • Can involve individuals from many different geographical areas
  • No limit for data flow in number of words generated
  • Alternative pathways
  • Cost effective
  • Recordable
    • Data sharing
    • Various research methods
  • Immediate feedback
  • Visual interactions
  • Internet connectivity
  • Access to hardware
  • Access to platforms
  • Reading, writing and typing skills
  • Ethical issues in online interviews and research
must do s
Must do’s
  • Decide what platform to use - asynchronous or synchronous platforms – or both?
  • Recruit online participants
  • Establish online rapport and trust
  • Feel comfortable with platform
    • Know how to troubleshoot
  • Match interviewer and interviewees
    • Someone who is aware of the field
    • Understands who they are in the picture
training and experience
Training and Experience
  • 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
  • Group average experience 11 years 6 months
roles of literacy practitioners in indigenous communities
Roles of Literacy Practitioners in Indigenous Communities
  • Knowledge Broker
  • Social Interpreter
  • Conduit
  • Empowerment Coach
  • Advocate
  • Liaison
  • Community Member
  • Facilitator
  • Team Leader
  • Negotiator
emerging themes
Emerging Themes
  • Need for a better understanding of the complexities of the Indigenous learner from both a language and a personal perspective.
  • Need for improvement of all literacy skills.
  • Need to help to better support the children in the community.
  • Need for literacy to provide a voice for the community.
positive approaches
Positive Approaches
  • Using culturally relevant approaches and culturally relevant material
  • Community /learner ownership and community development focus
  • Facilitating a mentorship program
are we using technology
Are we using technology?

Type of Software:

  • Social Computing/Networking
  • Blogging
  • Face book
  • Email
  • Skype
  • Elluminate
  • PowerPoint
  • e-books
  • Google Groups
  • Various games
  • Digital Story
  • Photo Story
  • Movie Maker
are we using technology to teach literacy skills
Are we using technology to teach literacy skills?
  • Language skills
  • Word processing
  • Driver’s license preparation
  • Reading
  • Researching
  • Writing
  • Oral presentation
  • Communication skills
  • Mentoring opportunities
  • Tax filing skills
  • Digital photography
  • Job searching
  • Banking
  • Opportunity for higher education courses
barriers to meeting needs
Barriers to Meeting Needs
  • Government requirements, policies and funding issues
  • Organizational capacity
  • Lack of equipment, lack of internet
  • Are we meeting the needs at all?
how can technology change the way we support indigenous literacy learners
How can technology change the way we support Indigenous literacy learners?
  • Showcases Indigenous people’s strengths
  • Provides literacy and learning services in a learner’s own environment
  • Higher education opportunities and job/work readiness training programs
  • Means of communication
  • Professional development opportunities
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. OPFEG_Kelvin_24/09
next steps
Next steps
  • Communities views
  • Communities needs
  • Guiding principles based on common threads through literature, practitioners and community
  • Engaging community in a collaborative community literacy project based on strengths and needs
  • Design-based principles for policy makers, practitioners, and communities to support effective practice of online technology in Indigenous communities
  • Anderson, T., & Kanuka, H. (2003). E-research : Methods, strategies, and issues. Boston, MA Allyn and Bacon
  • Evans, A., Elford, J., & Wiggins, D. (2008). Using the Internet for qualitative research. In Handbook of Qualitative Research in Psychology: Sage.
  • Flick, E. (2009). An introduction to qualitative research (4th ed.): SAGE.
  • Henderson, L. (1996). Instructional Design of Interactive Multimedia: A cultural critique. ETR&D, 44(4), 85-104.
  • Lobel, M., Neubauer, M., and Swedburg, R. (2005). Comparing how students collaborate to learn about the self and relationships in a real-time non-turn-taking online and turn-taking face-to-face environment. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 10(4), article 18.
  • Rezabek, Roger (2000). Online Focus Groups: Electronic Discussions for Research [67 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 1(1), Art18,
  • Reeves, T. C. (2006). Design research from a technology perspective. In J. Akker, K. Gravemeijer, S. McKenney & N. Nieveen (Eds.), Educational Design Research (pp. 52-66). UK: Routledge.
references con t
References (con’t).
  • Stein, D. (1998). Situated Learning in ERIC Digest 195, from
  • van der Veer, R., & Valsiner, J. (1991). Understanding Vygotsky. Oxford, UK: Blackwell. Adult Education [Electronic Version].