Bridging the Distance; Assessing the Effectiveness of Online Teaching Tools for Indigenous Language Education (Jade LaFontaine, McGill University, Canada)

9:30 AM, Thursday 29 Apr 2021 EDT (30 minutes)
  Virtual session
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Jade LaFontaine, McGill University, Canada

Title: Bridging the Distance; Assessing the Effectiveness of Online Teaching Tools for Indigenous Language Education

Keywords: Indigenous language; technology; games as pedagogy


Indigenous communities are no exception to the rapid shift in online learning, due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic causing schools to postpone in-person classroom instruction. Because of these factors, there is a need to carefully analyze how we teach Indigenous languages through distance education. This research identifies which online teaching tools and resources are most effective for Kanien'kéha language teachers in Kahnawá:ke using the software Learning Branch ™ and is part of an ongoing master’s thesis. Following the theoretical frameworks of Indigenous Knowledges (Littlebear, 2009) and Multiliteracy Pedagogy (The New London Group, 1996) this research examines the challenges that teachers face with Kanien'kéha language instruction and prepares them to use technology-based tools that their classrooms can benefit from. First, a needs assessment with the community was carried out to determine the general level of access the teachers have to different tools and technology, so that the project would be suited to their specific needs. Second, a teacher-training workshop with the Indigenous educators was conducted so teachers could learn the use of different tools and resources. Their feedback was compiled and later examined to find out their initial attitudes towards these tools for Indigenous language instruction, as well as their reflections on which tools seem to be the best fit. Select teachers have implemented these new tools (of their choice) into their classrooms and provided feedback on whether the tool they chose was accessible and effective or not, as well as their general opinions about the tools. Preliminary results demonstrate that certain tools are generally more versatile and effective for Indigenous language instruction, and the feedback from these instructors will be applicable to Indigenous language teachers in other communities as well. In addition to the teacher-training workshop, there were also video tutorials for these tools that were created and are accessible to the Kahnawá:ke teachers and the community at large.