Virtual School Meanderings

January 21, 2009

Advancing Aboriginal Inclusion Through The Use Of E-Learning Technology In The Aboriginal Community

So, I attended the CNIE Pro-D Event earlier today.  The event was described as:

Sunchild E-Learning is a leader in on-line educational delivery to Aboriginal Communities in Canada using technology to advance aboriginal inclusion in higher education and the work force, making a difference in the lives of Aboriginal Students.

Partnering with major oil and gas companies, and Aboriginal Communities, Sunchild E-Learning provides educational opportunities to aboriginal students on reserve and in urban settings, enabling them to complete their High School Diplomas, move onto University and College or Trades, and close the gap that exists between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities in terms of quality of life and opportunity.

And it was delivered by Linda Robinson, Vice-Principal/Registrar, Sunchild E-Learning Community.

The Sunchild E-Learning Community has been working with students located on 23 reserves in Alberta and has started to serve aboriginal students in the urban Calgary area as well.  The focus of the program is on providing students opportunities to access high quality education without having to leave their community.  The program has won a number of national and international awards since its inception in 1999 (most of the ones highlighted in the presentation have come in the last three or four years).

Sunchild E-Learning Community was created by Sunchild First Nations and currently operates as a private school and offers courses from grades seven through twelve.  This means that it does not receive public funding from the provincial Government under the education or schools act.  They have had nine corporate sponsors since 2000 and continue to get new partnerships.

The method of course delivery sounded fairly standard for a K-12 online learning program.  One teacher who was a subject matter expert, teaching one or more courses to students located in a number of different locations.  One difference would be that Sunchild teachers would be focused upon working with aboriginal youth.

The need for opportunities for this population was harsh, to say the least.  Less than 4% of on-reserve students will graduate and less than 20% of aboriginal students will complete an academic course. Of the ~140, 000 aboriginals 15-24 in Canada, approximately 80% of them were not attending school.

Sunchild has a 70% completion rate and an 80% graduation rate.  Some of the statistics they posted in a graph:

2005-06

  • completed and passed ~180
  • completed and failed ~80
  • withdrew ~50
  • incomplete, but continuing ~40
  • dropped out ~25

2006-07

  • completed and passed ~200
  • completed and failed ~50
  • withdrew ~90
  • incomplete, but continuing ~45
  • dropped out ~15

Interesting, Linda indicated that many aboriginal students are unable to complete the course within the allotted time, but the Sunchild method allows students to continue beyond the normal single semester period (i.e., I believe Linda stated the “completed and failed” and the “incomplete, but continuing” categories account for some of these students).

The model of delivery uses primarily a synchronous method.  Essentially, the content is delivered with the same amount of synchronous instructional time as if they were sitting in a face-to-face environment.  All synchronous classes are also recorded, to allow students to review the material a second time or if the student was unable to login during the scheduled class time.  Teachers also record additional sessions that students can use.

In addition to the synchronous instruction, each course also has asynchronous course materials and resources available to the students as another sources of curricular support. This asynchronous course content was developed by Sunchild themselves, based upon the Alberta curriculum with an infusion of aboriginally sensitive material.

Along with the certified teacher who provides the synchronous instruction and facilitates the asynchronous content, Sunchild also uses local community mentors.  These individuals are not certified teachers, but are often leaders within the community.  The mentors are essentially grounding school-level technical support

In terms of funding, communities that utilize the Sunchild program pay at least 50% of the cost of operating the program.  The corporate sponsors mentioned above fund significant portions of the program.  And they do receive sporadic funding from the federal Government.

During the session, Linda pushed the following video to us:

http://trilogysolutions.ca/sunchildvideo/sccyber.html

http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=_A-ZVCjfWf8

Throughout the presentation, Linda mentioned a report from the Conference Board of Canada.  You can access the report (with a free registration) at:

http://sso.conferenceboard.ca/documents.aspx?DID=1457

I had to leave after the videos, so I missed the question and answer session at the end.  I do know the first question dealt with challenges they have faced.  There will be a recording of the event posted and I will provide that as soon as I have the information

4 Comments »

  1. […] features in these news items).  Another one is the Sunchild e-Learning Community in Alberta (see Advancing Aboriginal Inclusion Through The Use Of E-Learning Technology In The Aboriginal Community and Follow-Up: Advancing Aboriginal Inclusion Through The Use Of E-Learning Technology In The […]

    Pingback by Canadian Virtual School Focused On Aboriginal Students Received $2 Million Donation « Virtual High School Meanderings — February 2, 2010 @ 10:40 am | Reply

  2. […] Sunchild E-Learning Community.  As some of you may recall, I’ve written about Sunchild (see Advancing Aboriginal Inclusion Through The Use Of E-Learning Technology In The Aboriginal Community and Follow-Up: Advancing Aboriginal Inclusion Through The Use Of E-Learning Technology In The […]

    Pingback by Report: Optimizing The Effectiveness Of E-Learning For First Nations « Virtual School Meanderings — June 28, 2010 @ 11:40 am | Reply

  3. […] Advancing Aboriginal Inclusion Through The Use Of E-Learning Technology In The Aboriginal Community […]

    Pingback by Aboriginal Focused Programs in Canada « Virtual School Meanderings — January 18, 2011 @ 9:06 am | Reply

  4. […] features in these news items).  Another one is the Sunchild e-Learning Community in Alberta (see Advancing Aboriginal Inclusion Through The Use Of E-Learning Technology In The Aboriginal Community and Follow-Up: Advancing Aboriginal Inclusion Through The Use Of E-Learning Technology In The […]

    Pingback by Canadian Virtual School Focused On Aboriginal Students Received $2 Million Donation – State of the Nation — September 4, 2016 @ 12:10 pm | Reply


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