Archive for July, 2016

Indigenous education in Canada (part 3)

Friday, July 29th, 2016

In 2001, the Liberal government began supporting research conducted on Industry Canada’s CANARIE ultra-high-speed network to develop methods to improve the quality of education in remote and indigenous communities. The Rural Advanced Community of Learners (RACOL) project was one such landmark in distance education, cultural exchange, and community enrichment.

RACOL overcame limited local resources and vast distances to bring together students and teachers in the Fort Vermilion school district – an area about twice the size of Denmark – using broadband technology. It enabled the math teacher in High Level, the physics teacher in La Crete, the trades instructor in Rainbow Lake to teach all the students of this vast region in synchronous learning. It also set the stage for a sharing of storytelling and indigenous knowledge (e.g. environmental issues) not just within the district, but also with the rest of Canada. Revitalization of this approach can bring immediate results to the Liberal’s mandate to ensure quality of education for First Nations students.

Deputy PM Anne Mclellan launches final RACOL report

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Indigenous education in Canada (part 2)

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

“Make significant new investments in First Nations education to ensure that First Nations children on reserve receive a quality education while respecting the principle of First Nations control of First Nations education.”
Excerpt from mandate letter to the Hon. Carolyn Bennett

New initiatives aimed at improving education for remote and indigenous communities must include best practices in virtual classrooms as part of the mix, and Canadian research in this field is the best in the world. The economics surrounding this are both political and practical. Value and results must be seen in government investment. Virtual classroom practices provide supportive options for increasing quality of education, and economic value where student numbers are low and communities are remote. At the same time, virtual classrooms blended with on-site personnel and resources can support learning within a local experience and within the local cultural milieu.

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Indigenous education in Canada (part 1)

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

A research community centered on virtual classrooms began to coalesce in 2001 thanks to funding provided by the previous Liberal government. The funding, provided by Industry Canada and Canadian Heritage, led to innovative and successful methods of improving education and cultural dialogue across Canada, including remote and indigenous community partners. Two multi-year, multi-partner projects particularly informative to current Liberal government priorities.

The deployment of the research languished for years, but revitalization of this invaluable educational/cultural asset should be an essential component under the new Liberal government’s strategy on Indigenous Education. We learned the lessons on how to provide quality education to remote communities more than a decade ago. With advancements in technology, quality education using virtual classrooms is now even more readily and affordably enabled through commercial Internet providers. Revitalization begins with a ‘flip of the switch’.

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