Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Communities of practice in Indigenous communities

Curiously the term "community of practice" did not come up at the ANU Educational Research Conference, until the last session by researchers from the ANU Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research. This was in Dr Inge Kral's discussion of "Multiple Pathways to Learning for Remote Indigenous Australian Youth". Dr Kral pointed out that what is measured in Australia wide standardized education tests is not very relevant to the needs of indigenous students in remote communities.

It occurs to me that use of e-learning and devices such as the OLPC would not be of use if they simply deliver the same syllabus in the same way.

Dr Kral pointed out that education continues for young people beyond school and so are invisible to education policy makers.

Dr Kral then addressed how indigenous learners made use of digital technology. A typical sight in remote communities is students with laptops, tablet computers and smart phones. The technology is not being used to just deliver a traditional course, but to provide a local identity on-line.

Dr Kral pointed out that a new definition of literacy is needed for the digital age. This involves video, audio and music. The associated learning is based on projects and informal group activities.

It occurs to me that these insights can be applied to better education for the wider community, including at university. It is also possible that just as traditional aboriginal art was successfully translated to new media and became financially and culturally successful worldwide, indigenous multimedia may similarly successful.

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