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The digital divide for Indigenous students in Learning Management Systems

Many Australian university courses now utilise Learning Management Systems (LMS) in order to deliver content. However, no specific university policies or guidelines address the issue of the digital divide. In addition, Indigenous cultural values are not currently reflected in LMS-based learning design and delivery.

A new research project led by Dr Neal Dreamson from the Faculty of Education at Queensland University of Technology will investigate the interactive learning experiences of Indigenous students and articulate the digital divide in LMS-based courses.

“While Australian universities have either resolved or improved many equity concerns in recent times, those that exist in Learning Management Systems remain a blind spot,” said Dr Dreamson.

“There is an equity gap evident in terms of practices encouraged in online learning – like posting to forums and interacting via video chats – and a student’s capacity to access such technologies, and then equally participate. Minority students, such as those of Indigenous and Asian backgrounds, particularly struggle; it’s not unusual to hear, ‘I never get engaged.’”

Dr Dreamson and his team, which includes Associate Professor Gary Thomas (Associate Director of Academic-Indigenous Knowledges, Learning and Teaching Unit) and Professor Anita Lee Hong (Director, Oodgeroo Unit), also from QUT, will review up to 30 online and blended learning courses as part of the study.

“We will be evaluating the embedded communication and collaboration design in terms of culturally inclusive education and Indigenous holistic learning,” said Dr Dreamson.

“Our ultimate aim is to develop a framework of Indigenous culturally influential factors for culturally inclusive learning in LMS-based courses that may be used by Australian universities.”

Dr Dreamson’s project is one of 12 funded via the NCSEHE’s 2015 Student Equity in Higher Education Research Grants Program. The project is scheduled to conclude in December 2015, after which time the final report will be made available here on the NCSEHE website.

Posted 14 May 2015 Posted in General, Indigenous