The Ancestor Project: Aboriginal Computer Education Through Storytelling
The goal of the ANCESTOR program is to use digital storytelling as a means to promote an interest in technology for Aboriginal learners and to increase cultural literacy. A curriculum was developed and first tested with Aboriginal students at the LÁU, WELNEW Tribal School near Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Based on feedback from both teachers and students, the curriculum was updated and then tested with non-Aboriginal students. Following more refinements, the curriculum was then delivered to Aboriginal learners using several different approaches depending on local needs. One was a summer camp that took place within a First Nations community over three weeks, and another a special elective for grade 6 Aboriginal students at Shoreline Middle School in Victoria. In two remote communities on British Columbia’s west coast, two different three-day workshops were delivered. The results from all these deliveries highlight student engagement, cooperation and imagination plus an increased interest in technology. However, despite a rich First Nations storytelling tradition, youth were unable to provide cultural perspective in their stories and hence a lack of cultural transference is indicated. Next steps will include more emphasis on the integration of technology with the use of traditional language(s), as well as the inclusion of elders and time “on the land”.
KeywordsIndigenous Storytelling Literacy Culture Pedagogy Collaborative
The work with Aboriginal youth, schools and communities was supported by a PromoScience grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) awarded to Dr. Marla Weston. A BC Campus grant supported work with adult learners and the development of video tutorials. The BC Campus grant was awarded to both authors in partnership with Emily Carr University of Art & Design, Carnegie-Mellon University, the University of Hawai’i at Hilo and the WSÁNEĆ School Board.
We also want to acknowledge and thank all the Capstone Computer Science students and fine arts graduates who have worked with us on this program to build relevant curriculum and assets.The elders, secondary educators and First Nation communities who have invited us into their learning spaces are much appreciated and this chapter is dedicated to their graciousness and willingness to contribute to this program.
We all support and serve Aboriginal students in their lifelong learning journeys.
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