Computers for All? Dispelling the Myth of Accessible Hardware in Indigenous Communities

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Current reports and research trends suggest that up-to-date computer hardware and internet accessibility are widely available in most rural Indigenous communities. This paper presents a case study which shows that the problem of a lack of current hardware technology and related programs and internet accessibility has yet to be resolved. While adult literacy learners and community members are eager and adapt easily to technology, there remains several barriers to employment readiness and literacy learning opportunities using computers. There are many challenges faced by these community members, including accessing funds to purchase equipment, shipping issues, computer set up and operation experience, information technology expertise and computer maintenance funding shortages. In one research project, the Indigenous community involved once had a community computer lab assembled in a central location with user-friendly access hours for all community members. The recent economic down turn and community financial stress that resulted, caused a devastating effect on the technological luxuries enjoyed and utilized by the community and the learning and communication opportunities that were once available. This paper is based on current research constructed using a design-based research approach and using a qualitative practices including community focus groups, interviews and observations an Australian Indigenous community setting.

Keywords: Computers, Technology, Accessibility, Indigenous Communities
Stream: Technology in Learning
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Michelle Eady

Lecturer, Faculty of Education, University of Wollongong
Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia

Prior to coming to Australia in 2007, Ms. Eady had been living and working in remote and isolated Indigenous communities in both Ontario and the Northwest Territories in Canada. She has been the Distance Projects Coordinator for the Sioux Hudson Literacy Council in northern Ontario Canada. The Good Learning Anywhere project is the Aboriginal Stream distance literacy and job skill readiness for the province. The project has serviced over 600 Indigenous learners and helped them to reach their learning goals using an online synchronous platform called Centra. She was recently honored with the Council for the Federation Literacy Award for Innovation in Literacy for the province of Ontario. She has also served as the e-Learning Specialist for Contact North, a government sponsored organization that provides technical support, training and organization of the Centra platform. She returned to Australia in 2007 and is near completion of her PhD which is based around effectively supporting the self-identified literacy needs in Indigenous communities using synchronous technology. She also lectures in the area of inclusive education at the University of Wollongong. She is an early career researcher in the area of social science with a particular focus in the area of cultural studies.

Dr. Stuart Woodcock

Lecturer, Faculty of Education, University of Wollongong
Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia

Stuart is a lecturer in the School of Education at Charles Sturt University and teaches undergraduate and postgraduate students in the areas of inclusive education, educational psychology, child & adolescent development, and classroom behaviour management. His current research interests are on educators' attitudes, understanding, and expectations about students with learning disabilities, and students with an intellectual disability; classroom and behaviour management; and, teacher efficacy. Stuart initially trained as a teacher in the UK. Since then he has taught in England, Canada and Australia in primary and secondary schools, teaching in a variety of settings including mainstream, special education and behaviour units.

Ref: L10P0915