Indigenous student learning and persistence within online and blended modalities in higher education

Year: 2017

Author: Martin, Gregory, Day, Andrew, Nakata, Martin, Nakata, Vicky, Fernandez, Ephrem

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

New digital technologies continue to transform Australian higher education at both a rapid pace and scale. The lure of new digital technologies includes 'innovative' and cost-efficient delivery models that seemingly offer a more connected, personalised and flexible 'student experience' capable of boosting access, engagement and success. However, while technology enhanced approaches to teaching and learning have become increasingly mainstream their successful implementation is not a "foregone conclusion," despite claims to the contrary (Adams Becker et al., 2017, p. 2). For example, research indicates that Indigenous students, including those enrolled in "block mode" programs, have encountered a range of technological, teacher and student level challenges (Willems, 2012; Lampert and Burnett, 2012; Watson, 2013). Clearly, the shift from traditional face-to-face learning or print and broadcast based distance education to more blended or online modes of delivery is not a panacea to Indigenous student persistence or retention, at what Nakata (2002, 2007) refers to as the Cultural Interface of higher education. Unfortunately, despite the often uncritical promotion of online and blended learning modalities to 'empower' students academically, little research has explored how Indigenous students develop the capacity to exercise agency and persist in their learning within these increasingly ubiquitous but fraught spaces. This paper explores current debates and research to gain insight into how Indigenous students learn to persist within a Cultural Interface that is increasingly mediated by new online technologies.