Tessaro, D., Restoule, J.-P., Gaviria, P., Flessa, J., Lindeman, C., & Scully-Stewart, C. (2018). The Five R’s for Indigenizing Online Learning: A Case Study of the First Nations Schools’ Principals Course. Canadian Journal of Native Education, 40(1), 125–143. PDF available
This article focuses on the creation, implementation, experiences, and research surrounding the first online professional development course for principals of First Nations schools across Canada, named the First Nations Schools’ Principals Course (FNSPC). First, we describe the contexts, goals, and designing of the FNSPC. Second, we outline the complexities of bringing Indigenous values into an online educational space. Lastly, we describe how using the Five R’s (Kirkness & Barnhardt, 2001; Restoule, 2008) of respect, relevance, reciprocity, responsibility, and relationships recasts the challenges of Indigenizing online education into opportunities for spaces of traditional and non-traditional Indigenous learning through the FNSPC.
Indigenous education; Aboriginal education; online education; First Nations schools on reserve; principals’ professional development course
In 2016, Dr. Jean-Paul Restoule, along with a team of researchers, undertook a research project exploring the experiences of the course planners, funding agencies, and participants of the First Nations Schools’ Principals Course (FNSPC) during the phases of course design, implementation of a one-year pilot delivery of the course, subsequent course offerings, and the move towards accreditation of the course by the Ontario College of Teachers. ... This paper describes the story behind the FNSPC, its design and delivery, and provides some of the course experiences as examples. Notably, the course design and delivery were centred around the Five R’s of respect, relevance, reciprocity, responsibility, and relationships (Kirkness & Barnhardt, 2001; Restoule, 2008). (p. 125-126)
|Indigenous education||Online Education|
|situated in a specific community||accessible across multiple communities|
|highly contextual||very low context|
|experiential, holistic, personal, orally transmitted, narrative, metaphor||technologically mediated, therefore difficult to align w/ indigenous education|
FNSPC research employed a decolonizing theoretical approach as well as Indigenous research methodologies, informed and inspired by the work of scholars such as Linda Smith in Decolonizing Methodologies (1999) and Shawn Wilson in Research is Ceremony (2008). These frameworks meant that, similar to the course design, the research approach ought to be culturally aligned and based on respectful relationships (Styres & Zinga, 2013) (p. 129)
The goals of the research included understanding the challenges and opportunities of incorporating Indigenous knowledge into spaces of online education, the findings of which are discussed by Restoule (2017). Research also explored the ways that the course could provide new e-learning opportunities to invite all learners to engage with Indigenous knowledges, worldviews, and pedagogies in culturally appropriate, respectful, and meaningful ways. (p. 130)
The idea for an online course was inspired by the pressing need for enhancing school leadership in areas where professional development opportunities are scarce, particularly leadership development for those working in a First Nations cultural context. (p. 127)
The decision to explore the processes and outcomes of the FNSPC is based on the knowledge that the content and delivery of these courses is inherently conflictual due to the opposing fundamentals of Indigenous education versus online education. (p. 130)
|Indigenous education||Online Education|
|community, place, context||not situated, meant to be accessed beyond confines of one place|
|customized around awareness of learner||teachers and learners may never meet each other f2f|
|holistic engagement (emotional, intellectual, spiritual, physical)||low context, easy access and interaction|
|The relationship a learner has to the teacher, community, and place where the learning occurs is of such great importance in Indigenous education that the community and environment tend to be synonymous with the sources and content of learning. (p. 130-131)||community is a virtual construct, all communication mediated|
By applying each R to the course design, structure, and delivery, it was found that the challenges of bridging Indigenous and online education could be effectively mitigated and these could act instead as opportunities for new types of learning. (p. 132)
In Indigenous education, both the teacher and learner have a responsibility to recognize and uphold First Nations values, practices, and ways of knowing (Kirkness & Barnhardt, 2001). Further, personal responsibilities and relationships, such as to family members, work, or community, are acknowledged for their role in the functioning of society and the shaping of daily experiences. (p. 138)
Relationships are the fifth R, as the other Four R’s of respect, reciprocity, relevance, and responsibility can only truly be realized through conscious tending and effort to relationships. Relationships between teacher and learner, and between community, culture, and school underlie all aspects of Indigenous education (Restoule, 2017). (p. 139)
These principles of Indigenous education (respect, reciprocity, relevance, responsibility, and relationships) seem to me to be directly parallel to the historical aims of open education. Paquette's three dyads, "autonomy and interdependence; freedom and responsibility; democracy and participation" (2005, trans.) are particularly salient with multiple points of connection between the two models. Paquette's phrasing as three opposing dyads captures the inherent conflict between Indigenous ways of knowing and learning and online education.
If open education is fundamentally concerned with increasing access to educational opportunities and improving the pedagogical effectiveness of those opportunities, then these 5Rs, as opposed to the 5R permissions enabled by open licenses (the right to reuse, revise, remix, redistribute, and retain learning materials), seem to me to be more foundational to open education than open licenses. Through the Indigenous 5Rs (i5Rs?) educators can ensure that all students have greater access to education and that the opportunities presented to them are of high quality.