The introduction of new digital technology to enhance learning needs to begin, not with the technology itself, but with enabling an ontological shift among teachers (Cochrane et al., 2014, p. 208). The ontology of most such strategies involves a shift in the locus of control of learning from teacher to student. This is a Eurocentric view of learning which may not be appropriate in settings where the cultural underpinnings of these roles are markedly different.
An aid project in which mobile technology was introduced for the first time in two secondary schools in remote, rural Fiji threw this into sharp relief. This was a Rotary aid project which provided 35 iPads, plus network and display hardware to each of two secondary schools on the Fijian island of Taveuni. In terms of the relationships between its teachers and students, Fijian culture places considerable emphasis on such things as respect for elders, silence as respect, and learning as emulation of an elder or expert, and there are protocols which govern the type of question which may be asked of such a person. (Nabobo-Baba et al., 2006). Each of these factors has the potential to undermine the notion of student-driven learning, at least on an individual level.
On the other hand, “the Fijian is essentially a communal person” (Nabobo-Baba et al., 2006, p.89) and this resonates well with the developing norms of social media. Thus, it should be possible to find connections between existing social structures and digital tools, as was found in the Leokī (The Powerful Voice) project in Hawai’i (Warschauer, 1999). This was a Hawai’ian language revitalisation initiative in which indigenous groups took ownership of communal aspects of the project’s digital suite in order to connect members of their language group who were scattered in remote locations.
If we are to avoid educational neo-colonialism in spreading digital technology beyond the mainstream we must work with teachers so that they can make the technology their own. This session will explore strategies for facilitating the redefinition of teacher perceptions through examination of theories of learning and teaching from a cultural perspective. Drawing on work done both in cultural studies and in the field of digital learning, it will suggest approaches which could lead to the development of a new and innovative strategy for teaching and learning with digital media in settings such as the South Pacific. This session will appeal to teachers using digital technology who are interested in ways of acknowledging and respecting their working context.
Cochrane, T., Antonczak, L., Guinbert, M., Mulrennan, D., 2014. Developing a mobile social media framework for creative pedagogies, in: ML 2014. Presented at the 10th International Conference on Mobile Learning, Madrid, Spain.
Nabobo-Baba, U., Naisilisili, S., Bogitini, S., Baba, T.L., 2006. Rural and remote schools In Udu, Fiji: Vanua, indigenous knowledge, development and professional support for teachers and education. USP FALE & Native Academy, Suva, Fiji.
Warschauer, M., 1999. Electronic literacies: Language, culture and power in online education. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, London.
|Affiliation||Auckland University of Technology|