Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Bringing the Expertise into the Online Classroom

I just finished up my EdX course "Reconciliation Through Indigenous Education." I am sharing the final assignment which is an initiative to have educators bring in local, community, and Aboriginal expertise and Traditional Knowledge into the classroom.

I am also sharing my proposal for a budget that will  add more of the "human" factor and feel to my online courses.  I believe that it will be a useful model for the new teachers heading out into the Saskatchewan educational landscape.  Often new teachers are reluctant to ask for funding or resources to be optimal educators.  However it is amazing how much the students intrinsically value,  relate and remember unique experiences in and out of the school/classroom. 

 I used to have quite a few community guest speakers, Elders, Role Models and Leaders come into my Native Studies 10, 20 and 30 courses when I taught in Sandy Bay, Saskatchewan.  When local court cases came up with regards to Treaty or Aboriginal Rights I took my students to learn about the protocols and responsibilities of the local justice system.  It gave them a chance to see how local community members and First Nation leaders were responsibly working to protect and instill their Aboriginal Title and Rights within (or at times resistant to)  Provincial restrictions and parameters. 

I hope this proposal letter will give you a starting point to help the next generations of students in Saskatchewan. #ECMP455 #Indigenous Education  #Experiential Learning #Special Project

RE: Proposal for funding to support the integration of Traditional Knowledge Holder's, Gatherer's and Herbalist's expertise into Native Studies 10, 20, 30 Online Course Contexts

Dear Principal and Superintendent:

I have been developing and teaching the Online Native Studies 10/20/30 at various intervals over the past 11 years at edcentre.ca. I am determined to revise all my courses to make them more relevant, meaningful and applicable to my students’ daily lives. At this time I am specifically focused on crafting my Native Studies 30 course to fully engage my online learners. The key is incorporating online activities that embody a more “human” experience. I believe that it is essential to integrate the expertise of the local Traditional Knowledge Holders, Gatherers and Herbalists from our Northern Saskatchewan region in order to significantly enrich this curriculum.

I am requesting your support to enhance our online courses by allocating an “Intergenerational Learning – Elders & Knowledge Keepers” budget for the online Native Studies courses. Other schools in the division are currently enjoying the benefits of Aboriginal perspectives and experiences within their communities. This online initiative would greatly benefit the online school and could also be accessed by a wider range of educators and students.

It would involve online students inquiring about their particular community’s diverse knowledge protocols, Elders, and Knowledge Keepers. This information would be shared in a public forum within my course. This step alone would actuate and reinforce awareness of the invaluableness of Traditional knowledge. Highly and intrinsically motivated students can then make the request to engage in an enriched project based on the protocols. It would involve reciprocity in contributing to the shared knowledge in the community through chronicling in the Oral Tradition, Audio/Visual footage, or demonstrating the skills passed on.

I would like to allocate a maximum of four projects for the 2015/16 school year. Optimistically the projects would be apportioned to Dene, Cree, Michif, and Metis however it would also be dependent on the specific online students involved. This bank of major resources would prove invaluable for Northern Lights School Division educators who would like to initiate requesting the expertise of knowledge holders in their specific community.

As remuneration and protocols will vary from locale and even within locales I am requesting a maximum budget of $500 annually. This would be sufficient for various gifts of appreciation such as tobacco, blankets, Thank-you cards and/or monetary honoraria. This budget would allow for flexibility and could be carried over to the following year.

I look forward to your response and anticipate your support in helping our students deepen their understanding and appreciation for their communities’ knowledge. As they access these proficient educators in their traditional territories it will facilitate a reciprocal process of knowledge sharing as these students will soon be our future community teachers and leaders.

Yours in Online and Indigenous Education,
Kona Guest