Unit 4: Activity 1 (DLEs in Rural Areas of Canada)

Authors: Ben Chaddock and Myrna Pokiak

We would like to start by bringing our thoughts to the 215 children who were forced to attend a residential school in Kamloops, BC, never to return home again (CBC News, 2021). This heart-breaking news is another reminder of the dark history of Canada’s maltreatment of First Nations peoples. The Residential School system will forever tarnish the history of our country, as well as other maltreatments of the First Nations people across this great land. 

The last Residential School closed in 1996 (Gray, 2021), but the healing will take generations. We would like to acknowledge that for many Dene, Metis, and Inuit peoples, the current school system continues to be a reminder of the pain and grief caused by past governments and religious organizations. During this most difficult moment, we can only wish that the spirits of the children find their way home, and the world takes notice to ensure such things never happen again.

In today’s post, Ben and I explore the challenges surrounding the application of digital learning technology in rural communities. We decided to explore these challenges in the context of Canadian rural communities including the far North.

There are many challenges facing Canadians in our rural communities. With regards to education and the advent of digital technologies, there is a mix of positive and negative impacts. We have accumulated a list of these impacts and summarized the key notes below. If our goal is to aim towards a future where as many Canadians as possible have access to the tools and resources they need to achieve their personal, professional, and community goals, then our ability to communicate our needs and carefully allocate our resources will contribute to achieving this equality of access in due time. In the meantime, great awareness needs to be taken by our education leaders to maximize the experience of our current student body.

Positive Impacts – things that are going well:

  • Attending educational programs from home communities
    • In areas where internet capacity is adequate, students can remain in the comfort of their home or community environment and participate in educational programs. 
      • This can be very helpful for children  who still rely heavily on their parents, or need support in balancing their academic studies with the rest of their day-to-day activities. 
      • For example, remote learning students were able to get more sleep, reduce chatter or bullying, lower the stakes and focus on the development of the whole student, and discover the power of self-pacing and self-determination (Fleming, 2020)
    • Teaching in Canada’s Far North is greatly challenging, however the number of schools has increased since 2017, from 7 to 20 institutions (ECE, n.d.). 
      • The Northern Distance Learning (NDL) program uses a blend of online and in-person high-school classes to help students access a greater variety of courses (ECE, n.d.). 
      • At From East Three secondary school in Inuvik, NWT, classes of up to 20 students can participate at a time (ECE, n.d.).
      • Student success rates are promising (about 70% credit acquisition rate), and are made possible by strong relationships between students, teachers and administrative staff (K12 SOTN, n.d.). The NDL illustrates how distance learning can help fill a need in the community given the right tools and resources. 
  • Expand cross-cultural connection
    • Khoo (2019) frames digital learning not as a commodity, but as an aspect of a gift economy, whereby learners can interact and build connections with students and teachers outside their immediate social and cultural groups (34:17).

Negative Impacts – things that need more attention:

  • Limited Infrastructure: 
    • Currently, only 45% of rural Canadians have access to high speed internet (Broadband Fund, 2021). 
    • Two financial projects have been announced to help bridge this gap, “the federal government’s $1.75-billion Universal Broad-band Fund and the CRTC’s $750-million Broadband Fund (Brownell, 2021). 
    • However, Byron Holland, chief executive of CIRA suggests that $6-$12 billion is actually needed (Brownell, 2021). 
    • This situation is attracting interest from large players in the communications sector, who are using this situation as a consolidation powerplay. 
      • For example, “Rogers, one of the country’s largest service providers, recently promised to create a $1-billion fund to increase connectivity in remote, rural and Indigenous communities if its proposed takeover of Shaw Communications is allowed to go through” (Brownell, 2021). 
    • Although digital infrastructure and broadband capacities have improved, consumers continue to increase their reliance on digital technologies. If consumer needs and use of the internet remain stable, then hardware infrastructure and broadband capacity may have a chance of catching up; however, until then, there will be a lag since current capacity already lags behind consumer need (White, 2020).
  • Slow Internet Speeds 
  • High cost of internet
    • The price and quality standard of internet access is also different in northern Canada (Latour, 2018)
    • For example, the internet provider Northwestel is currently able to provide 150 GB/month for $129 dollars. This is an improvement however, with Northwestel offering  just 100GB/month for the same price back in 2018. In comparison, that same year, Bell Canada offered Toronto customers unlimited monthly data for $50 a month (Levinson-King, 2019).
    • The Nunavut territory is the only region of Canada without access to fibre internet. To reach the Canadian household average data usage, a Nunavut household would have to spend $7,000 annually, approximately 5-6 times more than the average (Tranter, 2021)
  • Cultural
    • To maximize the use of online learning technologies, greater attention needs to be placed in areas of curriculum design to “respect and build on aboriginal ways of learning. In fact, that might also benefit non-indigenous learners as well” (Bates, 2019). 

It is in our nation’s best interest to create opportunities that maximize the creative and intellectual capacity of the peoples of this land. As more and more Canadians are required to use the internet for personal, professional, and educational activities, increasing access to the digital landscape will help us maximize the value each Canadian can share with their community (Canadian Internet Use Survey, 2019). Improved internet infrastructure will aid in this goal. Until then, support for programs that blend online tools with in-person learning will help young Canadians reach their academic goals. With regards to educational design, administrators need to strongly consider the needs and limitations of our rural learners and incorporate alternatives into curriculum structure and assessment resources.  For example, eLearning programs should include access to printed materials. Moreover, digital tools should be used as a supplemental resource, not a replacement for professional and caring teachers in each community. Using a combination of communication and consideration, together, we can innovate and build towards an educational experience that helps all Canadians reach their creative potential (Kuu, 2019).


Bates, T. (2019, March 3) Why are there few online programs in Canada’s Far North? https://bit.ly/3i6ciXk

Broadband Fund (2021, March 19). Canadian Radio and Television Communication: Broadband Fund Closing the Digital Divide Canada. Retrieved May 30, 2021, from https://bit.ly/3i50Hb6.

Brownell, C. (2021, April 8). The pandemic has exposed Canada’s internet problem. Maclean’s: Technology. https://bit.ly/34tNpga.

Canadian Internet Use Survey. (2019, October 29). Statistics Canada. Retrieved May 30th, 2021, from https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/191029/dq191029a-eng.htm.

Education, Culture and Employment. (n.d.) Northern Distance Learning. Government of Northwest Territories. https://bit.ly/3gc5kO7.

Flags on federal buildings to be lowered in memory of Kamloops residential school victims. (2021, May 30). Canadian Broadcast Corporation: Politics. https://bit.ly/3yPf4pS.

Fleming, N. (2020, April 24) Why Are Some Kids Thriving During Remote Learning? Edutopia.https://edut.to/3yR4ChG.

Gray, B (2021) Digital Detox 5: The Harm Was Always There. https://bit.ly/2RWLu11.

Gray, B (2021) Digital Detox 6: Build Back Better. https://bit.ly/3vCRSci.

Internet Performance Test (n.d.) CIRA. Retrieved May 30th, 2021, from https://performance.cira.ca/.

ISED National Broadband Internet Service Map (2021, March 25). Government of Canada. Retrieved May 30th, 2021, from https://www.ic.gc.ca/app/sitt/bbmap/hm.html?lang=eng.

Khoo, Su-Ming. (2019, April 11). Openings: bounded (in) equities: entangled lives. [Youtube Video]. https://bit.ly/34tGX97.

K12 State of the Nation. (n.d.) NWT Northern Distance Learning Program. State of the Nation. https://bit.ly/3c4Q6sQ.

Latour, J. (2018, August 23). Canada’s north deserves a better internet. CIRA. https://bit.ly/2SHO2Qu.

Levinson-King, R. (2019, September 9). Huawei heats up the battle for internet in Canada’s north. BBC News Toronto. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-49415867.

Tranter, E. (2021, January 24). Deeply disturbing: Nunavut internet is still slower, more costly than rest of country. CTV News. https://bit.ly/3p313jK.

White, E. (2020, October 20). After decades of promises for better northern internet, progress has been made — and the promises keep coming. Canadian Broadcast Corporation: Sudbury. https://bit.ly/2RZjgmn.

Myrna’s Network of Nodes

For this activity, I used Kumu, a very easy to use digital and free program. The digital network is found here. I categorized my online life into five categories, based on where I spend the majority of my time in relation to learning, education, work, and mental health. The five categories are further broken into online organizations and digital information that helps to function in those nodes of work and play. The outer nodes are the digital programs used to support communication, activity, and production within each group.

Myrna’s Digital Presence – Unit 2, Assignment 3

Considering my digital presence, I reflect on a specific question raised. “Schryver (2013), Will you be ‘Googled’ well?” (para 18). I often ask myself questions that impact the posts I make, or the precautions I take. I am very new to the various Social Media platforms, in comparison to the online friends or acquaintances I am linked with. I view others posts, see what I like, and what I don’t like. I try to determine how I want to present myself and what I want to take away from the information. Recently, I’m asking myself, what is the value of this page, this friend or contact, or the purpose? There is so much information and conversation on the Internet and if I do not consciously make an effort to choose what I do, time can easily be wasted on what I describe as dead content.

Time is precious. I try to choose what I engage in and groups to follow, based on my interests and places that provide value, education, and opportunity. I quickly disengage with groups that push to sell cosmetic products, rant and rave chaos, and through trial and error, find what works for me. Unless I am passionate or have an intrinsic urge to illustrate a perspective I feel needs to be told, I try to avoid negative online interactions, knowing the audience may perceive my thoughts through another lens.

I agree with Schryver that misunderstandings occur most often due to the lack of visual cues like body language, timeframe, or changes in a person’s tone (Schryver, 2013, para 36.). A post can be interpreted in many different ways, based on the readers mood, the context, or what captions are used within. Examples are the use of capital letters and exclamation marks, or a specific emoji or choice of punctuation, like a question mark instead of an actual question written out.

With the above in mind, I try to make a conscience effort in where I spend my time, what I spend my time doing, continually questioning where I want to go, and what I want to share. I relate to Jenkins’s description of Participatory Culture, engaging and growing where enjoyment is present, while sharing together experiences and stories (Jenkins, 2013, 2:00).

Just as those interviewed around the world by Jenkin’s Master students, I too have a richer intellectual creative life outside of work where I may spend most of my time, and in their case school. (Jenkin, 2013, 0:01). Creativity is powerful and I need non-digital creativity too, which I believe allows digital creativity to blossom. This is the vision I have in using experiences mixed with digital technology to help me achieve my goals.

Not too long ago, reaching an audience or educators, required a plane ticket and a rich pocket to get there. When it comes to an audience, “Hargittai and Walejko (2008) said, while eyeballs for viewership are not guaranteed, the prospect of reaching large audiences is more within the realm of possibilities than in earlier times.” [para. 1]. My interest is to learn through others experiences, and share stories, projects, and new developments to increase opportunities.

The MALAT program offers a unique experience in allowing self discovery and embarking on a personal cyberinfrastructure journey (Campbell, 2009, para 13), opportunity at our fingertips. My digital pathway can be imagined as navigating a river to reach an ocean with wide open possibilities. My goal is to build upon my current digital presence to uniquely promote opportunity for businesses I own with 2021 Technologies, and share Indigenous knowledge to a wider audience. Along the way it is inevitable that there will be struggles and teachable moments, time to evaluate, re-evaluate and modify my path, always reflecting on how far I have come to push me further.

Plan Towards a Digital Presence

I plan to work towards my goal by determining the digital presence that suits me, works for me, makes me more efficient, and provides the most benefits. Following are four steps I know I need to take and room for more as my path takes shape.


Increase my connections on my LinkedIn Page, as a business owner, this is a useful tool for the purpose of making connections in business


  • Determine other businesses that I could provide a service to and send out requests to connect those who own or manage the business
  • Once a month during the first year post a story or a business achievement to share with the audience
  • Follow connections who are positive contributors to the communities and region I live in
  • Find opportunities through the LinkedIn community to participate in at least once a month to gain insight to a useful skill to benefit my business, family, or health & wellness.

Knowledge of gaps:

  • Takes time to read posts and find ones that I can relate to enough to adopt, comment on
  • Takes bravery to press that send an invite button to someone I’ve never met before

Strategies to Address Gaps:

  • Don’t put pressure on myself to read everything, get great at scanning and determine what has the most potential or best overall benefits
  • The person on the other end most likely feel’s the same way

Measure(s) of Success:

  • Increased connections and value added in business

Unexplored Social Media

Use of Social Media to advertise, promote, and share business opportunities


  • Explore digital platforms I am not familiar with and decide to adopt or pass (Instagram, TikTok or new platforms recommended by others)
  • Decide on one platform that I can do really well at and use it to its advantages

ID of Skills, knowledge of gaps:

  • To be determined as I am unfamiliar with those I haven’t explored, only heard from second-hand experience

Strategies to Address Gaps:

  • To be determined as I don’t want to explore platforms that I only ever hear or think are negative, so this is an area I have yet to explore for myself

Measure(s) of Success:

  • Coming to a decision if such platforms will or will not suit my business or education needs

A YouTube Channel?

Create a YouTube page to advertise the services of each business I am involved in; positive promotion, increase followers, and gain momentum to bigger opportunities.


  • To be determined, still not too familiar

ID of Skills, knowledge of gaps:

  • Content is required and this takes time to develop, though I have over a decade of photos, videos, education, projects, and a lifetime of experiences to draw from, it takes time to put together to share on such a widely used technology
  • Building an Identity is needed, takes time

Strategies to Address Gaps:

  • Start with one, make it short, and research benefits to starting a channel
  • Organize data, create a storyboard of what I hope to accomplish, and potentially do things in sections, to draw in an audience with an end note to want to learn more

Measure(s) of Success:

  • A YouTube Channel to educate others and share the services in business I am involved in.

Website Facelifts

Re-design and update websites used for each business I work with, de-clutter, re-organize, and re-structure to allow navigating smooth, while incorporating blogs, videos, or stories to share growth, milestones, and projects completed:


  • Delegate staff to outline webpages we want to see
  • Make a choice for the one that is priority and work my way down the list

ID of Skills, knowledge of gaps:

  • Time consuming to create or update website contents
  • Need for quality photos and videos, which requires time for editing and polishing

Strategies to Address Gaps:

  • Hire a designer to assist and guide them through the vision
  • Ask for help and input from younger generation

Measure(s) of Success:  

  • 2021 Version of the websites

I must remind myself that where I spend the ultimate gift of life, time, needs to be productive. I know creating a digital presence can so easily consume time that I can never get back.


Campbell, G. (2009). A personal cyberinfrastructureEducause Review, 44(5), 58-59. https://er.educause.edu/articles/2009/9/a-personal-cyberinfrastructure

Hargittai, E., & Walejko, G. (2008). The Participation Divide: Content creation and sharing in the digital ageInformation, Community and Society11(2), 239-256. https://www-tandfonline-com.ezproxy.royalroads.ca/doi/full/10.1080/13691180801946150

Schryver, K. (2013). Who are you online? Considering issues of web identity. The New York Times blogs. Alternate link to the The NYT blogs site. https://advance-lexis-com.ezproxy.royalroads.ca/document/index?crid=6d4ad924-c6c0-4e84-84ec-65cd9b0fb26b&pdpermalink=5f3b81ac-4fb7-4de0-aee8-c39f43c49cad&pdmfid=1516831&pdisurlapi=true


Jenkins, H. (2013, May 7). Participatory Culture (Big Thinkers). [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/1gPm-c1wRsQ

New Digital Thoughts Spurred by David Cormier’s Blog

Upon review of David Cormier’s Collaborative Activity, using collaboration, digital, individual, and analogue as guides, I tend to prefer the first activity as I can relate to it. However; giving it further thought and time, the representation allows me to evaluate the ‘how’ do I work in the digital world instead of the what.

Digital Map – On Call 24 7

Digital Map

I was raised in an era where living off of the land and sea was a part of survival. At age 10 my digital map was documented from trips taken by foot, dogteam, snowmachine, and bush plane. 30 years later, the map in reference illustrates my travels from one location.

The digital world I live in today, requires a new navigation skill, at times more frustrating then referencing a river bend or a bluff at the edge of the ocean. It constantly changes and I find much of my personal activities in the digital world mix with professional obligations.

Starting from the Southeast, this area illustrates the various forms of communication for online activities. Northwest references the calm and mindless activities in my social digital world. The Northeast references activities of living, as a resident in the city I live in. The Southeast is my professional life, often requiring hours of personal time to keep it functioning. There is no longer a specified time of day designated for work hours. Work, with the availability of Digital access, has become 24-7.

Lastly, the center of it all is the cell phone, which has now become the main source of access to the digital world.

White, D. (2013). Just mapping. Accessed on April 24, 2021 from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSK1Iw1XtwQ


Reflection – Open Learning: Safety & Belonging

Illustration of Digital Safety
Copyright (c) 2015 Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock. No use without permission.

In reflection of the various live presentations and those documented over the period of five years, from a diverse group of students, professionals, and experts, I was not surprised to see safety and belonging repeated in the concept of open learning. No matter where we live, work, or play, as a human being, we want to belong and we want to feel safe.

Cromier provided an overview of the messiness of online communities, which in the past, deterred me from plunging into the digital world because of my own safety concerns. I have been very hesitant, for similar points he made, including lack of inclusion, community health, and safety (Cromier, 2017).   However; with recent changes in the world, I have come to realize it is necessary to adapt and learn how to benefit from open learning and to take advantage of the opportunities that exist.

Einarson’s presentation demonstrated the strength a community has in making a person feel like he or she belongs (Einarson, 2021). As an Indigenous person, my community raised me with a sense of belonging, making me feel safe, a natural part of the environment and culture. To create symposiums, platforms, and digital learning tools in a safe manner, is crucial, knowing the impact a safe environment has for those who want to belong in it.

Becoming a part of open learning is happening before my eyes and like Cronin, I also need to ask myself, “am I willing to contribute to helping my community stay healthy?” (Cronin, 2017) There is messiness in online communities, however; there is also substantial benefits if used safely. The intent to learn and share knowledge and experiences with a far greater audience then ever before provides benefits that are now achievable for communities that need it the most.

I was born and continue to live in the Northwest Territories, where the opportunity to learn diverse subjects from people of other cultures, cities, and beliefs, is rare. Sharing my own cultural beliefs, knowledge, and experiences have also been limited to in-person audiences. Open learning as I understood while listening to Cronin, is bringing forward opportunities to share, bridge gaps, and communicate (Cronin, 2017). I want to be a part of open learning while building a sense of community, safely, and offer students opportunities and an option.

When providing opportunities, I too want to participate in consultations with Indigenous groups as they are the true keepers of our land (Gates, 2021). I envision working alongside Indigenous groups with beneficiaries in mind, while balancing the safety of our children, communities, and integrating a sense of belonging. There is much to learn from Inuit, Dene, and Metis in the region(s) I live and work in. Traditional and Indigenous knowledge integrated with open learning in a safe environment, will shape the direction my work takes, throughout all the messiness that exists on and off line.


Cromier, Dave. (2017) Intentional messiness of online communities. [Padlet]. MALAT Virtual Symposium 2017; Royal Roads University.

Cronin, Catherine. (2017) Open culture, open education, open question. [Padlet]. MALAT Virtual Symposium 2017, Royal Road University.

Einarson, Earl. (2021). How can we incorporate Indigenous Worldviews in creation of online culturally safe learning environments? [2021 ARP Padlet]. MALAT Virtual Symposium 2021; Royal Roads University. http://bit.ly/EarlMarkVS2021

Gates, Lisa. (2021). Playing Together: An open education resource of games for cultural learning. [2021 ARP Padlet] MALAT Virtual Symposium 2021; Royal Roads University. http://bit.ly/GatesVS2021.

Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock (2015). Privacy Data Secure Protection Safety Concept. [digital image id309537986]. Retrieved from https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/privacy-data-secure-protection-safety-concept-309537986