Need Identification and Proctor Selection for Distance Education on Isolated Reserves
Tamas, Andras Akos
In response to a need to make university-level education available to residents of isolated Indian reserves and to increase local control of education, a pilot study was designed to provide information necessary for developing a low-technology distance education system to serve the needs of four teacher aides in two communities in northern Saskatchewan. It was felt that a short-term, specific-purpose investigation which began by identifying some of the teacher aides' learning needs would make it possible for the researcher to define community resources which could form part of an appropriately-designed distance education structure. A methodology was developed which guided the researcher as he branched out from the initial focus of inquiry to select individuals or groups in the community capable of acting in various roles (termed "proctors") to assist the teacher aides in acquiring professional certification. This methodology combined concepts from the fields of community development, adult education, applied anthropology and system theory to indicate individuals or groups who could participate in such a system. The research also assessed some of the dynamics of school-community relations and the potential for increasing the degree to which residents could acquire a meaningful role in the operation of the schools on their reserves. Some learning needs were identified, and proctors were subsequently selected who could fulfil several roles in a distance education system. Differences between the two communities were discussed, and avenues for increasing community interest and involvement in the functioning of the schools through local participation in a distance education system serving the teacher aides were described. The potential characteristics of such a structure were indicated in a scenario involving a "course" which could be offered to meet a specific learning need articulated by one of the teacher aides. It was concluded that information necessary for developing an appropriate distance education structure for residents of isolated reserves could be generated by employing the field methods used in this research to identify local resources and students' learning needs.