Sunday, November 29, 2009

Indigenous people, technology and aged and community care

This is my last post about the symposium I facilitated for indigenous and Torres Strait people this week, looking at their use of technology in aged and community care.

Here are the key points that came out of the symposium.

Thoughts about technology
  • Indigenous people would rather meet face-to-face than communicate electronically.
  • They recognise that they have to get their heads around technology as their young people become more familiar with it.
  • They are visual learners and like the idea of using tools such as Skype and webcam to see the person they are talking to.
  • Professional development and education must be flexible in time and mode of delivery.
  • Education and professional development must be culturally appropriate.
  • They recognise the potential of technology to help them with networking and sharing resources.
Barriers to implementation and integration of technology into workplace practices
  • Lack of access to the Internet because of rural and remote geographical location.
  • Concerns about mis-use of the Internet by staff at work.
  • Concerns about security of organizations' networks.
  • Lack of understanding of role of technology by management and board of governors.
  • Concerns about inappropriate organizational sharing in context of highly competitive finding applications.
  • Attitudes about what is 'work' and 'play' in the workplace eg see Facebook as a 'play' tool as opposed to one that can be used for professional purposes.
  • Cost of hardware and Internet infrastructure.
Where to from here?
The majority of symposium participants were very interested in how they could use technology for better workplace practices and networking.
  • They were positive about Skype and Google Docs which they saw as tools for effective collaboration.
  • Thought it would be better to keep a computer free from the organization network to reduce risks of security breaches.
  • Many felt the first step would be to try out the tools on a personal level before they attempted to introduce them organization-wide.
Some of the advice or thoughts I passed on
  • I urged the participants to think outside of their organizations, to consider where in the community they could access computers and the Internet - make it a community issues, not just one for the organization they worked for.
  • Advised them to look beyond aged care and Queensland to see how indigenous people were using technology, and network with people beyond their immediate professional and geographical locality.
  • Advised them to think how they could mentor each other as they explored the potential for electronic networking.
I drew a picture of my vision for have an online space or community where they shared resources, networked and supported each other; held synchronous meetings/seminars that were culturally appropriate and brought in people that they normally would not have access to on a face-to-face basis. Recordings of the meetings would be made for those who could not attend and dispersed in other media such as CDs for people who could not access the Internet.

The participants acknowledged that this vision may be a few steps too far at the moment, but they recognized that they seriously had to consider anything that brought them together in a way that made them culturally and professionally stronger.

What advice or tips would you give pass onto people who are new to technology and thinking about how they could integrate it into their work practices?

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