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WWW.INDIGENATION.COM: FSIN eLearning Project

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      WINTER 2002      v31 n01 p04  
David Joyce
David Joyce
What is eLearning? For the FSIN Education and Training Secretariat, it is a concept that has been embraced by an innovative team that is reaching out to communities with the power of technology. It has been said that information technologies are really a natural extension of the traditional need to maintain close kinship ties, and good relations with other groups.

Indigenations.com is the FSIN's very own eLearning website for learners of all ages. This project is in its third year and is fast becoming the bridge over the digital divide for many indigenous peoples, locally and internationally. As indigenous nations adopt the culture of information technology, Indigenations offers a practical online resource about issues that affect them.

Indigenations.com, officially launched June 15, 2001 is an online tool for people separated by geographic, cultural or language divides. In this way, Indigenations facilitates cross-cultural exchanges. The website is a globally accessible (multilingual by way of an electronic translator) and interactive information resource for learners and researchers.

With one eye looking to the past, and one toward the future, the Indigenations team uses the strength and wisdom of past generations to chart the FSIN's eLearning projects, of which Indigenations.com is one.

"We are building our capacity as a unit that develops and promotes information technology for the betterment of First Nations. Self-determination for First Nations in the 21st century must include control of our own technological destiny. We must adopt these tools as we see fit. The youth of today recognize the value of the FSIN keeping pace with emerging technologies, and there is no doubt we need to encourage student interest in the sciences," says David Joyce. Joyce is the Manager of the FSIN eLearning project.

www.indigenation.com

Indigenations is their largest project so far, and is a free service that offers daily and weekly news, and opinions on Indigenous peoples' issues, among other gems:

- Communications tools are built into the website so people can organize oneway/two-way discussions for private or public engagements:
- Discussion participants can contact others in the same discussion group with the integrated group-emailing system.
- People can also network with others (advertise their personal or business profiles) through a dedicated contacts area.
- They offer a state-of-the-art email system, with integrated translation.
- Indigenations offers K-12, high school and post-secondary students a unique and rich learning experience, with specialized content: Such as Indigenous role models, youth opinion pieces, polls, and an interactive quiz. Instructors will soon find a dedicated content exchange system they can use to trade curriculum or course materials.
- Members' participation adds to the Indigenations community, and everyone can participate in ongoing developments that continuously improve services. One unique development is the Crow Hop Cafe, which showcases various talents online.

The eLearning project is not just Indigenations.com. The projects early efforts began with the creation of the multi-lingual "Contribution by the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas" posters and guide, which were then distributed to all First Nations across Canada. The educational themes in these products were original, innovative, and indigenous-based. The posters were well received.


WWW.INDIGENATION.COM: FSIN eLearning Project

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      WINTER 2002      v31 n01 p07  

Regina Research Park
FSIN eLearning and Idigenations.com is located at the Regina Research Park

They can be previewed and purchased at Indigenations.com.

FSIN eLearning is also building its capacity to train others in information technologies. They are currently training other FSIN staff to maintain their own internal web-based network. Indigenation.com promotes training and participation among young indigenous peoples, particularly so they can contribute growth and freshness to the Indigenations community. Building technological capacity among First Nations communities is a very good thing," says Joyce.

The Indigenations team plans to greatly expand their online services through a content management delivery system. Another service on the horizon is an interactive job search and resume posting service, in partnership with the FSIN's Corporate Circle and Industry Canada.

Another pending partnership is with Regina-based iQmetrix, an innovative software developer. Joyce says they will take advantage of the iQmetrix expertise to offer superior online services.

"Partnerships are essential to offering comprehensive services. You can't go it alone in the new economy", say Joyce.

Indigenations also anticipates partner contributed website components as a major part of the website's growth, including expanding and diversified research resources. The following specialized content and service areas are pending: Indigenous youth; region or language-specific Indigenous groups; and topic-specific (e.g. law, science, health, business, scholastic).

Gary Anaquod
Gary Anaquod, member of the eLearning team

Currently, schools will find Indigenations a valuable asset. They offer a web-based database of First Nations bands, role model profiles, online quiz, searchable archives of news items and editorials, a calendar of events, translatable email, and discussion/chat areas. Intranet applications and website creation and hosting are in the works. Online file sharing of content or curriculum will be geared for instructors in K-12, high school or post-secondary.

Over the past two years, Joyce and his crew have nurtured their intellectual capacity in information technology. Their experience and passion will drive their ongoing investments in knowledge towards other technological pursuits.

"I see us racing to keep pace with mainstream organizations in deploying other technologies - In some areas, we intend to win the gold medal! We are determined to ensure that (First Nation) economies can take advantage of cost-effective high speed Internet that can be used both for economic development (small businesses online) and for online learning. We have already built the foundation for online learning at Indigenations.com. Check it out and sign up as a member to show your support. It's free!"

Joyce would like to see the FSIN eLearning team evolve into a major player in the IT business sector of Saskatchewan. Either online, or on the ground, they intend to doggedly pursue their mandate to spread the IT culture throughout the province, the country, and around the globe, among Indigenous peoples.

FSIN eLearning and Indigenations.com is located at the Regina Research Park, adjacent to the University of Regina, and the soon to be completed new building of the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College.

For more information, and to express your support through free membership, go to www.indigenations.com.