CAP: Partnerships for Indigenous Knowledge and Digital Literacies

PIs: Jon Reinhardt, Susan Penfield
University of Arizona
Award Details

This project lays the academic foundations for collaborations between researchers and indigenous American Indian community-based language practitioners for the purpose of developing a socio-technical means of, in parallel, preserving ancient indigenous languages and traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), and helping indigenous youth learn traditional languages and knowledge. The projected plan is to engage indigenous youth in the design of augmented reality immersive experiences for others (ARGs) that incorporate social media and immerse others in the culture and languages of the community as a means towards addressing these goals. Such an approach places youth in the position of being producers of immersive experiences for others and active collaborators with elders who they can share with and learn from. During the course of this Cyberlearning Capacity-Building Project (CAP), the PIs are convening a set of workshops involving researchers, indigenous language practitioners, and indigenous elders and youth to lay the foundations for later collaborative research and planning. Indigenous participants are being introduced to what is known about how people learn and about designing experiences for promoting learning; researchers are being introduced to the resources, needs, and knowledge of the indigenous people. American Indian participants are from four separate but linguistically-related tribal communities in the Midwest.

The next generation of indigenous peoples is faced with an awesome burden: how to sustain local ecosystems, languages, and lands in the face of rampant language, culture, and policy shifts. Existing theories of language and learning do not address these issues, and project participants are laying the groundwork for both developing theory around indigenous language and cultural learning and exploring the roles technology might play in drawing youth into these activities and helping them learn and preserve traditional languages and culture. Finding new channels for the transmission of indigenous languages and traditional ecological knowledge is both a practical and intellectual enterprise.

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