Indigenous and Open Education

A Contradiction?

Colin Madland, MEd

PhD Student

University of Victoria

Acknowledgement and Gratitude

Ancestral: recognizes land that is handed down from generation to generation. Unceded: refers to land that was not turned over to the Crown by a treaty or other agreement.

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Today, I am studying as a guest on the traditional lands of the Lekwungen-speaking peoples on whose traditional territory the University of Victoria stands, and I am grateful for the hospitality of the Songhees, Esquimalt and WSÁNEĆ peoples whose historical relationships with the land continue to this day.

Colonial Research

Social Justice




Open Education is the development of free digitally enabled learning materials … primarily by and for the benefit and empowerment of non-privileged learners

Success of social justice aligned programs can be measured … by the extent to which they enact redistributive justice, recognitive justice and/or representational justice. — Sarah Lambert, 2018, p. 239

Indigenous education Online Education
situated in a specific community accessible across multiple communities
highly contextual very low context
experiential technologically mediated
personal impersonal
orally transmitted text-based (implied in original)

Tessaro et al., 2018

Indigenous Education

Respect Reciprocity Relevance Responsibility Relationships

Tessaro et al., 2018

Indigenous learning environments must be relevant to the learners, meaning that the learning experiences must go beyond studying texts. There must be allowance for learners to engage with their own community needs and also to experience a sense of a learning community within the course. With the deeply interrelated nature of Indigenous communities, it is important for there to be a clear sense of responsibility for each individual to uphold the cultural norms of the community. This includes responsibilities within the course, but also responsibilities to the community and family. Relationships are the foundation of Indigenous education. The other 4 R’s depend on the existence and maintenance of healthy relationships within the course and also external to the course.

Two-Eyed Seeing

learn to see from your one eye with the best or the strengths in the Indigenous knowledges and ways of knowing

… and learn to see from your other eye with the best or the strengths in the mainstream (Western or Eurocentric) knowledges and ways of knowing

… but most importantly, learn to see with both these eyes together, for the benefit of all — Elder Albert Marshall, 2017, para. 2

Open Education

Participation Permissions Pedagogy Policy Platforms



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Getty, G. A. (2009). The Journey Between Western and Indigenous Research Paradigms. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 21(1), 5–14.

Lambert, S. R. (2018). Changing our (Dis)Course: A Distinctive Social Justice Aligned Definition of Open Education. Journal of Learning for Development - JL4D, 5(3). Retrieved from

Marshall, A. (2017). Two-Eyed Seeing – Elder Albert Marshall’s guiding principle for inter-cultural collaboration. Thinkers Lodge. Presented at the Climate Change, Drawdown & the Human Prospect: A Retreat for Empowering our Climate Future for Rural Communities, Pugwash, NS. Retrieved from

Tessaro, D., Restoule, J.-P., Gaviria, P., Flessa, J., Lindeman, C., & Scully-Stewart, C. (2018). The Five R’s for Indigenizing Online Learning: A Case Study of the First Nations Schools’ Principals Course. Canadian Journal of Native Education, 40(1), 125–143.