Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Activity 11- Indigenous Learners

How can you include examples of New Zealand's indigenous culture in the design of your eLearning courses - language, society, history, political issues etc.?

My whole course is based on building cultural understanding and capacity amongst students and it looks indepth at our indigenous culture and historical contexts that shape Aotearoa to what it is today. This includes offering:
  •  Face to face workshops and tutorials
  • Guest speakers
  • Moodle packages- Exe, voice over powerpoint, key links (TED, YouTube and to other references) readings, discussion forums 
  •  Key text book and readings 
  •  Noho Marae for 2 days
  •  Interaction/conversation opportunities with Manawhenua specific to their area

What approaches can you utilise to meet the needs of indigenous learners?

I think it’s important to first understand who indigenous learners are. Indigenous learners to me, means Māori, because we are teaching in the context of Aotearoa. This term also means to me Iwi- and it’s important to understand the differences between these two terms and how they are applied and why.

I use a variety of approaches to enhance ako across all my learners. In terms of Māori learners specifically, I offer the opportunity for Māori students to identify and express themselves as Māori, I pronounce their names correctly and learn what they are prepared to share about their whakapapa through the ritual of mihi. This is the beginning of building relationships between kaiako and tauira which is sustained throughout the course period. I also take the responsibility of responding to any ‘hard’ issues (for example one module we talk about is the Springbok tour and racism). The issues and debates are facilitated by me, and not directed at any persons. This is important to maintain respect while challenging each other about ideas.

Outline any experiences you have had working with indigenous learners.

Heaps! This is a weird question to me, it’s like asking have I had any experience teaching Pakeha students?  I’ve been lucky enough to have worked throughout the education system from developing policy in the Ministry of Education, right through to ECE- so it’s a bit hard not to come across indigenous learners really. My own whanau have given me some good experience too!

What were some of the challenges that you and the learners faced?

We always face challenges as educators and sometimes they can be daily. In terms of Māori specifically, I think it’s coming up with strategies that best support Māori learner needs. This may involve a range of support not traditionally offered in a tertiary setting, for example offering support in researching whakapapa. Most iwi have information online, so sometimes it’s about linking them up with Student Support services at OP so they can support them to connect with their iwi/hapu/whaanu.

The other challenge is not buying into the deficit model. I think the SimPa project at OP was a good example of this where it celebrates the innovative and creative practice of Māori in collaborative research. SimPa wa a project whereby manawhenua in collaboration with OP’s IT department created a virtual Pa site- an application whereby people could see what the Pa site of Kati Huirapa ki te Puketeraki looked like before colonisation.

I think by having clear expectations and clear communication go a long way in getting good results for students and facilitators.

How did this affect their learning?

Knowing who your learners are; is really important to me so I’ve built this into my course in the first couple of workshops and tutorials. It also gives students a chance to get to know each other better. It surprises me that although students have been together in the first semester, they comment that until they go away on their noho marae, until they have to formally introduce themselves in the context of mihi, they didn’t know each other as a class. This building of relationships affects their learning by offering them a sustainable force that they can use especially in the following years when they go on placement for longer periods of time and as the Bachelor programme becomes more demanding.

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