at the risk of sounding extremely ignorant, I wanted to ask whether anyone has come across a situation where this type of learning environment just doesn't suit?
I work with indigenous australians in remote areas where internet connection, computer access and motivation can be problematic. My workplace (which is a tertiary institute offering VET and Higher Ed course to indigenous australians) has recently adopted Moodle as the LMS and intro to online course delivery. Face to face delivery requiring travel for both staff and students worked well for many years but is very costly. Some here believe that this type of education will be the answer. I'm not convinced...
So does anyone out there have experience using an online educational environment-such as moodle- with ESL students, often with low literacy and not particularly developed study skills?
Thanks in advance for your feedback
You are right about traditional methods of learning and passing down knowledge and although I know that its impossible to generalise, some research has shown that a preferred learning style for indigenous australians is to learn in context and not in isolation.
I guess so much depends upon appropriate training for staff in how to successfully create a "community" out there, to reduce the sense of isolation and maintain a presence so that students feel they can request assistance or advice and actually get it without too much delay.
I live in New Zealand where a lot of work has gone into creating learning environments that suit our indigenous people. There are loads of language packs for Maori for Moodle.
If you want to see some examples or read more try these links:
Critical Success Factors for Effective Use of e-Learning with Māori Learners - http://elearning.itpnz.ac.nz/ (you will find loads on the itpnz site)
In New Zealand we invest funding in projects to enhance learning opportunities for Maori, and also Pacific Islanders.
Want to see Maori success in using IT for education in Australia - Pukunui Technology are a Moodle Partner in Western Australia
Try this book - information technology and indigenous people - By Laurel Evelyn Dyson, Stephen Grant - ISBN 1599042983
Don't give up. There are lots of people who will help you. Have you looked to see if there are some Aboriginal education initiatives in your area?
Anyway, I will have a look at these links over the next few days. It'll be great to see examples of the ways in which another indigenous group are using online learning.
I am a French aborigenous living in Thailand on a project to provide ELearning short courses to Burmese refugees (out of camps). The problems you mentionned sounds a bit like the ones I face now.
My students are 18-22 years old and lived in camps for a while and will come back there after their training...unless one of their bigger dreams come true... go to study abroad, or at least access an accredited online university programme. Considering these dreams (what a good example for their younger friends if they succeed) and the amount of interesting informations online to open your mind and your brain, Online education seems interesting.
Can you detail why any other "traditional" distance education program (paper, even radio or tapes) have not been chosen , maybe it had in the past ???
your work sounds really interesting. I hope there are enough scholarships to go around! I have just returned from 2 weeks in Burma visiting a friend who is working in Yangon for unicef. She has also worked in Mae Sot on the border - maybe somewhere near where you are now.
I would imagine that your students will have some educational background if they have been able to study short courses online. What kinds of courses are they studying and are you actually developing the courses using moodle or utilising courses already on the web? What sort of infrastructure do you have there as far as computers and internet connection go? You say they will return to the camps after their training. So where is the training being held?
In our remote area northern territory situation, we have found in the past, face to face workshops on-campus, followed by tasks to work on when students return to their communities worked well. Many of our students don't have strong English literacy skills and often learn better if they have the benefit of one on one instruction. Internet connection and computer access in these remote areas is often a problem too, and that is one of the reasons I wonder about our institution's decision to offer online courses. I'm sure they think they will be saving money by delivering courses this way!
I guess our way of delivery for many years has been mixed mode - a "traditional" distance education program, was not culturally appropriate. Contact between students and staff when the students were not on-campus was either by the staff member travelling to their community for regular visits or by fax or phone.
I don't think I have answered your question very well. But we have never really considered that traditional distance education methods would be very successful with our students, so I don't understand why we are suddenly now considering a distance education in a different format (i.e. electronic)
I encourage you not to focus on Moodle, or anything technical, but on getting your learners to collaborate to create content. Perhaps you could get them to tell a story about themselves, then you could upload it to a Moodle instance. They would then have a motivation to learn how to login to see themselves in their movie. After you have lit the fire...