Leech Lake Tribal College to host online learning conference for tribal colleges around the country

Apr. 14—LEECH LAKE — Later this week the Leech Lake Tribal College will host Indigenous educators from around the country during a virtual conference on the unique challenges and barriers to online learning at tribal colleges and other minority-serving educational institutions.

The virtual event titled, Waasamoogikinwaa'amaading, will take place online on April 14-15 and is free and open to anyone to attend.

According to the Leech Lake Tribal College event website, attendees are slated to take part from more than 43 different institutions from as far away as Hawaii, including the University of Minnesota, University of Minnesota Duluth, Red Lake Nation College and White Earth Tribal and Community College.

Speakers at the conference will address the future of online education post-COVID-19 and how it fits into nation-building and tribal colleges' service to their local communities.

Other topics that will be discussed include student preparation, orientation and support during online learning; cultural and language integration and online learning; successes, failures and lessons learned in a pandemic; and what the "new normal" will be at post-pandemic tribal colleges and universities.

In an informative video posted ahead of the event, LLTC Natural Sciences and Technology Department Chair Melinda Neville said the idea for a conference about online learning at tribal colleges and universities came long before the pandemic.

"Welcome to Waasamoogikinwaa'amaading, our Ojibwe word for online learning and teaching. This name was chosen long before the pandemic, for our plan to offer a small regional, in-person conversation about how best to serve students at tribal colleges in the digital age. Now, this is a little bit bigger," she said.

Neville spoke about the lightning-quick speed with which educators at LLTC and other tribal colleges acted at the beginning of the pandemic to shift over to an online format. Now, educators have more time to speak about and reflect on what worked well, and what did not.

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While the conference is open to the public, LLTC said it is geared primarily toward administrators, staff and faculty of colleges and universities.

Keynote panelists for the two-day event are Valerie Shirley and Jeremy Garcia from the University of Arizona and Gregory Cajete of the University of New Mexico.

Shirley and Garcia are co-presenting a talk called, "Sustaining Critical Indigenous Education Through Virtual Learning." Cajete is presenting, "Creating Culturally-Responsive Indigenous Science Education Curriculum."

The agenda also includes the keynote speakers, a virtual poster session and discussions among conference attendees.

According to LLTC, "The two-day symposium will foster conversations on student preparation and technology access, faculty training and resources, humanizing learning management systems, and cultural integration challenges with computer-based content."

For more information, visit lltc-waasamoog.us2.pathable.com.