SKC Hosts International Distance Ed Meeting

Feb 15th, 2001 | By | Category: 12-3: How to Build a Dream, Tribal College News

Salish Kootenai College on the Flathead Indian Reservation in western Montana hosted the first International Indigenous Peoples Distance Education Conference last November. Indigenous People came from as far away as Australia and Canada to participate. The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation provided a grant for the conference at Salish Kootenai College, where 590 students over the past three years have successfully completed more than 59 upper division Internet courses. The objectives for the gathering were to embrace learning from ancient wisdom, share experiences and learning styles, understand how education in cyberspace can preserve tribal culture, and develop a networking forum with indigenous professionals from around the globe.

The conference illustrated dramatic changes in the way Native people around the world access secondary education. In his keynote, Dr. Joseph McDonald, president of Salish Kootenai College, addressed the concept of cultural infusion in Internet courses at Salish Kootenai College. A paper written by Boni Robertson, Director, GUMARRI Centre, Griffith University, Queensland, Australia highlighted the need for culturally focused, quality, international distance education for Native peoples. Keynote speaker Julie Cajune, tribal education coordinator for the Ronan School District, Ronan, Mont., spoke about the need for multi-cultural education.

Additional sessions focused on indigenous learning styles for success in cyberspace, research issues with indigenous peoples, student needs, social issues, and cyber education for the isolated and disabled. The conference also included demonstrations of drumming, dancing, and singing. Lori Colomeda, Ph.D., who helped organize the conference, recently won the award from the Science and Religion Course Program for courses blending science and religion. Her class, Environmental Science Meaning in Indigenous Religion, is being taught on the Internet through the tribal college.

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