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Educational Communications and Telecommunications Pipelines for Indian Country

SCOTTSDALE, AZ – During the October 5, 2018 meeting of the Johnson Scholarship Foundation, Loris Taylor, President and CEO of Native Public Media provided arguments for the support of educational pipelines into the fields of communications and telecommunications for Native Americans.

“Getting our youth educated about communications and telecommunications is part of nation building across Indian Country. Understanding how technology has changed and will continue to change the world, is critically important to how we educate our youth today for jobs that may not even exist yet,” explains Taylor.

Taylor’s presentation centered on three technological drivers that she says require more attention across various sectors. They include the ever-changing social learning platforms, personal informatics, and instant information retrieval. Taylor described Internet based social learning platforms like Distance Learning becoming a “many-to-many” model, whereas in the past, learning environments focused on the “one- to- many” model or teacher to student ratios. Technology has also moved education beyond bricks and mortar and now Tribal colleges are offering classes nationwide with instructors located in various parts of the country.

“The many-to-many social learning platforms like Facebook and Youtube have changed the way people receive information and act on it. We are in the age of air-dropped revolutions like the Arab Spring and Standing Rock. Not only can we instantly retrieve information from anywhere anytime using various search engines, technology has also tightened the loop between cause and effect. Eating a piece of frybread can be instantly added to my body analytics through my Apple watch,” explains Taylor.

While technology has changed many sectors including education, Taylor emphasized that broadband deployment across Indian Country still lags behind the national average. She emphasized that media and broadband policies are important to changing the technologically barren deserts across Indian Country. One of those policies is maintaining a free and open Internet so that anyone in Indian Country can benefit from what technology has to offer in health, economics, and education.

Native Public Media has built its own educational pipelines, including a partnership with the Arizona Community Foundation to establish an endowed fund that will provide scholarships for Native Americans who study communications or telecommunications. Other efforts include the creation of the Andy Harvey Youth Broadcast and Journalism Workshop and the publication of several curricula specifically for the Native broadcast network.

“Closing the media and digital divides in Indian Country is everyone’s job. So far, we raised over $13,000 for the Communications/Telecommunications Endowed Fund. It’s an important step towards making more educational opportunities available for Indian Country that will have global consequences,” concludes Taylor.

The Johnson Scholarship Fund has funded Tribal scholarships and endowments to a tune of $20 million over the past 20 years.


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