Essential requirement for successful technology learning in Manitoba Indigenous Schools

August 4, 2017 • Written by

Ben Akoh, Ph.D(C), M.Ed., B.Tech
Instructor, Applied Computing Education, RRC

In 2013, I travelled by road for the first time to Thompson 760 kms north of Winnipeg, Manitoba, to present a paper at the Manitoba Education Research Network (MERN) conference held at the University College of the North  (UCN) Thomson campus. It was my very first trip to the “North” and I was very excited. This trip would eventually define the course of my life. My initial stop over was at the UCN’s Center in Misipawistik Cree Nation (Grand Rapids), 430 kms north of Winnipeg, where I experienced, for the first time, the technological challenges that Indigenous learners faced; not only with accessing content, but in pedagogy, planning, and in the delivery of learning. While I fell in love with the North and its people, I was disgruntled by the challenges that they faced, reminding me of my own humbling indigenous backgrounds. Ever since this trip, I decided I would dedicate my entire doctoral research to addressing a specific area of need – helping Indigenous learners become more academically successful. I became interested in the intersection of learning, culture, and technology among adult learners.

Since this trip, I have been to Thompson, The Pas, and lived for several periods of time in Bunibonibee Cree Nation (Oxford House), which would eventually become my research home. There, as part of my doctoral studies, I began to build deep relationships and to explore the research question, “How do adult post-secondary learners adapt and orient to learning in an Indigenous Canadian post-secondary context”.

The study was methodologically phenomenological, utilizing narrative inquiry as a means of gathering and analyzing data. Participants used digital technology (tablets, mobile phones, computers) to produce documentation illustrating their learning and adaptation. The negotiation of cultural identity, and the development of personal strategies to persist in their learning was a central finding in the study.

The study findings also indicate that there are still technological demands that could benefit learners in the North, if implemented. For instance, the Digital Canada 150 strategy document promises high speed Internet to 98% of Canadian households by 2017 could benefit homes and schools, yet the existing infrastructure is far from this target. A functional underlying telecommunication infrastructure that supports future economic growth and educational achievement is a fundamental and an essential requirement for learners in the North.

I learned that the reach of urban education is often minimal, and participation in learning that is both progressive and relevant, is challenging amongst people in Indigenous communities. I observed that Indigenous learners pursue their learning by adapting and orienting themselves between Eurocentric and Indigenous worldviews, and that this movement can be quite difficult.

I noticed that while Indigenous learning is place-based, activity-based, holistic (affects intellectual, spiritual emotional and physical aspects of being), spans life, practical, and is intergenerational, Eurocentric learning is not often so attributed, at least from the perspective of the Indigenous learner. As a result, Indigenous adult learners tend to straddle between Indigenous learning methods and Eurocentric ones. This constant demand to shift back and forth from one learning method to another is not often easy, while it arguably appears seamless to the educator.

Consequently, educators and educational systems that are fundamentally Eurocentric tend not to recognize this added demand for movement that is placed on the Indigenous learners, and also tend not to take their agility into consideration in evaluating student learning. And learners who subsequently feel frustrated in this process tend to drop out and lose interest in participation.

I argued in my thesis that this need for movement between Indigenous learning and Eurocentric ways, that is placed on the Indigenous learner, and the ensuing mismatch of perceptions of the educator and the learners, are substantial reasons for high attrition, low participation and completion rates amongst Indigenous learners.

Thus for indigenous learners to succeed, another essential requirement should concern educators, who should strongly consider Indigenous culture in the pedagogical development, design and delivery of courses and programs meant for learners in Northern communities. As educators, we scaffold learning from the “known” to the “unknown”. Scaffolding from a known Indigenous learning place to a relatively unknown Eurocentric one could help Indigenous learners make the necessary leap from low to high participation, and subsequently to completion. By doing so, we provide culture-centric accommodation for Indigenous learners.

Finally, education technologies such as mobile devices have shown interesting affordances that allow non-interested learners to socially acquire knowledge, digital competencies, and 21st century skills such as research, communication, and creativity. These devices could also help Indigenous learners to straddle their Indigenous learning ways and Eurocentric methods, and to succeed in both. Educational institutions and educators should find ways of pedagogically leveraging this technological affordance by using them as tools to link student learning to community activities that is holistic, practical and intergenerational. Predictably, it could have a strong influence on learning, now and in the future.

Today, I am hopeful and far less disgruntled as new research in the growing field of Indigenous educational technology appears to be asking the right questions about Indigenous learners’ success. My research contributes to knowledge in this field in that it leaves future researchers and educators with a Techno-Culture Adaptive Framework that helps to ask the right questions about the pedagogy of Indigenous educational technology, and to ensure that the right culture-centric frame is put in place for Indigenous learners in Northern Manitoba succeed.

BIT instructor honoured for efforts to promote government transparency and public education

June 27, 2017 • Written by

cods-award-winnerA Red River College instructor has received national recognition for his work creating online resources that promote government transparency and accountability.

Kyle Geske, a Business Information Technology instructor at RRC, was in Edmonton this week to pick up an Open Data for Democracy Award at the Canadian Open Data Summit.

He accepted the award on behalf of Open Democracy Manitoba (ODM), a citizen-run community organization that helps educate voters by empowering them to understand the roles and visions of their elected representatives, in order to create a more accountable and respectful democracy.

Geske (shown above in front row, third from left) co-founded ODM with fellow BIT instructor Jody Gillis in 2010; he now serves as its executive director and oversees operations alongside RRC grad Ken Harasym (Digital Media Design, 2006).

Since its inception, OMD has launched two election portals — and — that have allowed hundreds of thousands of voters to research their candidates and learn about local democratic processes.

The sites feature ward/constituency maps and statistics, historical information about past elections, candidate profiles and social media links, and links to media coverage of candidates and election issues.

ODM’s latest project,, was launched last November to provide Winnipeg residents with easy access to city council decisions on reports, motions and bylaws. was developed in partnership with the City Clerk’s office; with only a few tweaks, ODM was able to update the city’s existing record-keeping processes, allowing council decisions to be posted on the city’s open data portal.

In addition to the Open Data for Democracy Award, ODM has been recognized previously by the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, the City of Winnipeg, Mayor Brian Bowman, and a host of national and local journalists and media outlets.

Photo credit: City of Edmonto

BIT Instructor Presents at the 2016 Wiley Accounting Workshop

March 15, 2016 • Written by

On Friday, March 4th, 2016, the 2016 Wiley Accounting Workshop was held in Vancouver, British Columbia.  The workshop, which was sponsored by Wiley and CPA Canada, saw over 80 participants including educators from academic institutions across western Canada.

The workshop featured Valerie Warren and Red River College instructor Lori Novak who shared the results of a survey of accounting students across Canada on their readiness for and challenges faced in their accounting courses. The presentation challenged the audience to put themselves in the position of their students and to try to understand the challenges communicated by the students who participated in the survey.

The presentation was followed by discussion with other instructors as well as with students from Kwantlen Polytechnic University who were attending the workshop. After the discussions, ideas were presented for overcoming the challenges that students expressed in the survey.

loriBookLori Novak is the co-author of the accounting textbook, Accounting Principles Seventh Canadian Edition, Volume 1 and Volume 2 which was published in November of 2015 and March of 2016 respectively.

More information about the Wiley Accounting Workshop can be found here:









RRC President and CEO Visits the BIT/BTM Project Space

October 6, 2015 • Written by
Graham Thomson using the Google Cardboard

Dean of Business and Applied Arts, Graham Thomson trying the Google Cardboard

On October 6th, 2015, the President and CEO of Red River College, Mr. Paul Vogt visited the BIT/BTM Project Space. He was given a tour of the project space as well as an introduction to the various projects being developed there under the guidance of BIT Space Development.

The chair of the Accounting and Computer Education department, Haider Al-Saidi, presented his vision for the future of the project space and his hopes that the project space will continue and grow and be the host for more innovative ideas and a way for Red River College students to learn valuable skills in a real world project environment.

Haider Al-Saidi presenting his vision for the BIT/BTM Project Space

Haider Al-Saidi presenting his vision for the BIT/BTM Project Space

ACE Award Winners!

June 23, 2015 • Written by

The Accounting and Computer Education department awarded 33 awards to students in Business Information Technology, Introduction to Business Information Technology and Applied Accounting.  On Wednesday, June 17 the award winners and their guests attended the Awards presentation at Roblin Centre to receive their awards.

Thank you to our Business Information Technology Advisory Committee Chair, Gerry Glatz, for helping to hand out the awards.

Thank you to our award sponsors, Eileen Penner, the Huhtala Family, Gladys Bell, Paterson GlobalFoods, Ricoh Canada, MTS, and Great West Life.


Awards Program 2015

Congratulations Zoe Rose

April 29, 2015 • Written by

Zoe, a term 6 BIT Network Management student, has been selected as Cisco Live Dream Team Canadian Representative for this year.

Please click on the link below to see Zoe’s video application

Please see below for her answers to the application questions …

Describe why you are motivated to participate in this development opportunity with Cisco. (max 400 words)

I would love to join the 2015 Dream Team because I feel it would be an excellent skill developing experience, awesome resume item, and assist in making new business connections.

Describe any experience or qualities which demonstrate your ability to work with IT equipment, collaborate in a team environment, and deliver outstanding customer support. (max 400 words)


While working at a crown corporation (Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries) I; assisted end users with day to day troubleshooting, managed the casinos network and services across Manitoba, assisted floor staff on slot machines and event staff in the building of the new Club Regent Event Centre.


During my contract at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights I worked on building the network infrastructure for the gorgeous new building. I worked in the server room from Cisco Nexus 7000 to the AP located around the sculpture (the building has unique insurance because it actually is defined as a sculpture instead of a building). At the museum I worked with the mobile app department; developers and museum visitors, training and trouble shooting. As well assisting all departments in every day IT questions and issues.


I started a business where I do Managed Services (Glass Frog Technical Services) for small to medium sized businesses and assisted another IT company (Octopi Managed Services Inc.). At both companies I use Cisco equipment and recommend Cisco gear to my clients. At Octopi they were going through a bad year (5 year old company/7 person team) and asked me to help – after joining them in November I took over; Operations Manager, Project Manager, Sales Engineer, Technical Support, etc and they had their most successful month ever this January. I have clients in many different professional fields and even locations; recently I managed a project of upgrading a client with offices in Canada and US, upgrade their office backbone to tunnel between the three locations.


Previous to Netacad I also worked four years as an IT Manager at Lazer Grant LLP.


Provide examples of any accomplishments or achievements you have in the area of IT and Networking outside the traditional classroom environment, including community outreach activities, consulting services, awards or recognition, etc. (max 400 words)


– Started a business, Glass Frog Technical Services

– Assisted a business that was in trouble, Octopi Managed Services Inc.

– Director at Manitoba Ferret Association (Social media, Website, Technical support, 2009 – present)

– Member of Skullspace Winnipeg Inc. (2013 – present)

– Speaking at DigiGirlz this coming April 15th, mentoring young woman pursuing IT careers

– Red River College Mentor Program, joining international students with local students


Describe any other accomplishments or unique attributes you would like to share (i.e. military experience, languages spoken, business ventures, etc.)


– Started a managed services business, Glass Frog Technical Services

– Assisted a business that was in trouble, Octopi Managed Services Inc., who now is up and running more successful than ever before


If you would like more information about this event…

Congratulations Zoe on this great achievement and we all hope you have fun in San Diego. And take lots of pictures!!!!!

Technology Camps

April 23, 2015 • Written by

There is still room for registration on our Girls Exploring I.T. Technology Camp on May 5, and Day in the Life of an I.T. Student on May 6.  Registration is full for our May 7 Day in the Life Technology Camp.

Find out more information on this page.

Technology Camps Registration Now Open!

February 24, 2015 • Written by

Registration is now open for our Technology Camps this May!  The Girls Exploring Information Technology Camp is on Tuesday, May 5; and The Day in the Life of a Business Information Technology Student Technology Camp is on Wednesday, May 6 or Thursday, May 7.

The Technology camps are free to attend.  See the Technology Camps page on this blog to register.

ACE Vision and Mission

August 28, 2013 • Written by

The Accounting and Computer Education department has a new Vision and Mission.

ACE Mission Statement

Foster an inclusive, effective  and innovative learning environment.

ACE Vision Statement

Recognized as the best choice for post-secondary accounting and information technology education.

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