Nova Scotia Journal

According to the report, indigenous learners face more challenges in virtual learning

Indigenous education

Key Takeaways:

  • According to an educator, technology is a part of the future of Indigenous education, but traditional classes are still required.
  • A report on the effects of remote learning on children includes an Indigenous youth section, including perspectives from a Nipissing First Nation educator.

The Information and Communications Technology Council released ‘Uncharted Waters: A World-class Canadian E-learning Paradigm’ on December 9. The 56-page report looks at virtual learning in Canada and how it can be used outside of the COVID-19 context.

The authors interviewed Jenn O’Driscoll, acting vice-principal at Nbisiing Secondary School in Nipissing First Nation, who shared how students had responded to online learning. For one subsection, ‘Indigenous Youth Experiences with E-Learning.’

The information in the report came from expert interviews and a survey of 1,063 students and parents.

Online learning is more difficult in First Nations communities; Image from ANTaR

According to the report, only 17% of on-reserve households in Ontario have access to high-speed internet. As well, attendance has long been an issue in First Nation schools, and O’Driscoll claims that absenteeism increased during the first transition to online school.

Another issue is that some parts of the curriculum, such as traditional knowledge sharing from elders, cannot be done online due to technological limitations or the belief that sacred knowledge should only be shared orally.

In many communities, simply getting high-speed internet, which is required for online learning, is difficult. According to O’Driscoll, Nipissing First Nation, located near North Bay, is an outlier because most households have adequate internet access.

“You’ve been trained to recognize who requires assistance and who does not. And you won’t be able to find out if the students aren’t actively asking for it online, “She stated.

According to O’Driscoll, the challenges that Indigenous students face with online learning reflect more significant, systemic barriers, such as the assumption that every student has adequate access to the internet, technology, and a suitable workspace at home.

In May 2021, Indspire, a national charity that advocates for Indigenous education, published a report revealing that Indigenous post-secondary learners faced numerous barriers in remote education.

“Tech is going to be a part of Indigenous education, and kids need to learn how to navigate and use technology,” she said. “However, I would say that strictly virtual learning is not the ideal for Indigenous education.”

Source: CBC News

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