UVic Torch -- Spring 2007
Spring 2007,
Volume 28, Number 1

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By MATT J. SIMMONS
Photo courtesy of JESSICA BALL


A WEB-BASED VERSION OF THE WELL-ESTABLISHED INDIGENOUS CHILD and Youth Care Diploma will combine technology and Aboriginal learning traditions. Prof. Jessica Ball and Senior Instructor Shanne McCaffrey are building the new program around a “virtual learning lodge.”

“What we’re trying to do is not only develop virtual communities among classmates and instructors,” says McCaffrey, “but we’re trying to help students (feel) that they’re standing on the shoulders of their ancestors.”

The learning lodge—the concept is based on age-old indigenous approaches to learning—will offer the usual online course material along with recognition of people, events, times and places in indigenous culture and lore.

The classroom-based diploma has been around for 18 years, but Ball and McCaffrey recognized that a large group of potential students can’t leave their communities to spend two to four years at UVic. “It’s capacity depleting,” says Ball. McCaffrey also notes the advantages of the “support students can receive at home while still working in their own communities and practicing cultural activities.”

“People are realizing that the Child and Youth Care diploma, degree and career ladder prepares people for a wide range of professions that are high priorities in Aboriginal communities,” says Ball, citing examples such as youth care workers, elementary school teachers, and social workers.

The target date for delivery of the pilot program is September and follows the success of other UVic distance education programs, including the School of Social Work’s course on indigenous approaches to healing and helping which earned an international award from the Commonwealth of Learning last year.

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