The Indigenous Australian Students: A Case Study on Commercialization of Continuous Education

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Despite constraints students may face in online learning such as fear of technology, different levels of skills, literacy levels, and not being able to correspond in the language of a course, online learning is an increasingly attractive option for students undertaking higher education studies in Australia. It has been claimed that successful (online) learning initiatives for Indigenous students depend on their active participation in the learning task, where active participation is deeply embedded in student-centred learning which utilises a variety of methods and resources to facilitate their learning. Anecdotal evidence from online courses which use the discussion board as a learning tool suggests that the participation rate of Indigenous students in such forum is lower than that for other Australians. Given most campuses of the University of South Australia have specifically set-up Indigenous Students’ ICT laboratories, access to ICT resources may not be a barrier for most students, so what else affect their low participation in online learning activity? This paper presents the findings of an internet survey of 110 University of South Australia students both Indigenous and non-Indigenous about their views of the use of the discussion board as a learning tool in their studies. Factors which impede Indigenous students’ use of the discussion forum as an online learning tool are described together with suggestions of teaching and learning strategies for considerations by curriculum designers and teaching staff.

Keywords: Indigenous Australians, Discussion Board, Online Learning, Participation Rate, Online Learning Interactivity
Stream: Technology in Education
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Dr. Tangi Steen

Senior Lecturer, Division of Education, Arts and Social Sciences
The David Unaipon College of Indigenous Education and Research, University of South Australia

Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

I am a Senior Lecturer and Program Director for Honours & PhD, and course co-ordinator for several computing-related courses at The David Unaipon College of Education and Research (DUCIER) within the Division of Education, Arts and Social Sciences, University of South Australia. My academic and research interests are in the area Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and its uses in Indigenous students’ learning and research. My PhD research focuses on the problem solving strategies that students use when they encounter difficulties in ICT. These strategies were found not only to depend on students' level of ICT competencies but also on a number of social and cultural factors which influence their learning of ICT. One of my current research projects is to do with exploring appropriate technologies besides radio broadcasting for effective delivery and dissemination of health information for Indigenous peoples in regional and remote communities of South Australia and the Northern Territory.

Ref: T08P0225