This paper explores how the “meanings” of technology use are being culturally negotiated between Western educators and native Iñupiat Eskimo learners at schools across the Alaskan Arctic region, as part of a wider examination of the impact of the Western product and process technologies embodied by these schools upon the socio-cultural consciousness of the non-Western learners whose educational needs they seek to serve. There are two distinct aspects to this intercultural negotiation between educators and learners: (a) attempts of the former to reconcile their practices with the latter’s values, standards, and expectations; and (b) efforts of the latter to culturally appropriate the non-indigenous technologies being made available to them. It is expected that professionals working in a range of organizational contexts within our field may be able to gain insight from the remarkably universal nature of the problems and solutions involved in this extreme and instructive situation of socio-cultural tension
Key Terms in this Chapter
Western: Western, as used in this paper, refers to (1) peoples of European origin and their descendants settled across other continents, notably the Americas and Oceania; and (2) their common heritage of spiritual, intellectual, social, and material culture.
Non-Western: Non-Western, as used in this paper, refers to (1) peoples of non-European origin—tracing their roots instead to Asia, Africa, or indigenous populations of the Americas and Oceania; and (2) their diverse heritages of spiritual, intellectual, social, and material culture.
Diversity: Diversity, as used in this paper, refers specifically to differences based on culture—as defined previously—nationality, race, ethnicity, language, and religion. Additional aspects of diversity that are often considered by educators include age, gender, sexual orientation/preference, ability, geographical location, and socio-economic status.
Educational/Instructional Technology: Educational/instructional technology, as used in this paper, refers to the growing field of research and practice involving the application of interdisciplinary inquiry and emergent technologies towards the solution of instructional and performance problems.
Iñupiaq: (pl. Iñupiat) Iñupiaq refers to the Arctic people who make their home in the north and northwest parts of the state of Alaska; the term Iñupiaqt/Eskimo is also sometimes used. Additionally, Iñupiaq is the name given to the native language of the Iñupiat.
Educational Technology (pl. educational technologies): Educational technology, as used in this paper, refers to the growing range of human-engineered tools—both products and processes—employed within educational contexts towards the ultimate goals of promoting and enhancing student learning.
Culture: Culture refers to “the sum total of ways of living, including values, beliefs, aesthetic standards, linguistic expression, patterns of thinking, behavioral norms, and styles of communication” (Powell, 1997c, p. 15) developed by a particular group of people.