I have two philosophies. They are "To leave things in a better state than I found them" and "To create opportunities for people to achieve success and encourage them to replicate the experience for others so the ripple effect of success will grow exponentially amongst Native Americans." These philosophies are catalyst of the work I engage.
My first true employment was based on technology implementation and use in an educational setting. When I arrived at Oglala Lakota College (OLC) in the fall of 1996 in all of our administrative offices and the one computer lab there was a total of 50 computers. In additional there was one computer network in the business office. The availability and effective use of technology at our institution was critical based on the fact that we were decentralized in twelve sites across 7000 square miles. The very structure of the institution created problems for students in remote communities to access scarce technology resources. Upon my arrival a new initiative focusing on math, science, and technology was the catalyst of what has been tremendous growth in terms of our technology infrastructure that serves Native American education statewide.
Over the past seven years at OLC alone we have added over 600 micro computers, 15 computer networks, and a seventeen site, T1 based video conferencing network that includes sites located over 500 miles away. At the conclusion of summer 2003 we will add over 250 new computers in our college centers and modify our present distance learning classrooms to function as smart classrooms for instruction (10, 5). We have also deployed web based instructional software (currently WebCt but will change to Blackboard this fall 2003) that we are now beginning to migrate our course work from a traditional delivery format to be web based in the next several semesters. Our staff has served as technical liaisons with our local K-12 partners on the Pine Ridge Reservation and cooperatively implemented a ten node DS3 based network that provides transport of voice, video, and data for direct educational benefits of our future students is directly located at OLC. Both the OLC and Pine Ridge Reservation schools network are connected with a dedicated T1 to K-12 reservation schools on the Rosebud reservation that has a similar voice, video, and data network in both capability and size (1). Our expertise has lead to the formation of formal meetings of the Pine Ridge Reservation Technology Coordinators for learning and communications purposes.
In less than eight short years I have been able to be apart of a technology and telecommunications revolution on the reservations in South Dakota that will significantly impact education for Native Americans in South Dakota and beyond.
My formal undergraduate education is as a Mechanical Engineering graduate of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. My professional development for my current work has been on-the job training, self-taught, and trial by fire since I began working at OLC upon graduation.
The Dakota State University Masters program has been a critical formal educational and training experience that has provided me with opportunities to learn and understand what I had been “doing” for the past several years. As I engaged in my various course work I was able to better understand concepts and what I was doing as I could relate the theoretical information from my courses application experiences of my completed work. In addition I was able to analyze and reflect on past work and rethink more efficient methods of completing it based on the new information that I had learned. It was refreshing as I moved into more advanced course work to me able to use new information in my work setting to make better planning and implementation decisions in the areas of technology and distance education for our institution. Much of the new direction we are headed in terms of instruction at our institution is based on information from the course work in my Masters degree program (11, 12). Equally as important has been the knowledge attained as a participant in an online distance education program.
Everything from course layout and design, to utilization of web resources, to ineffective and effective means of communication has become foundational building blocks from which our distance education program at OLC will be built. I have all ready begin using the content that I have learned from my course work and I am adapting our institutions introductory computer concepts course to be Internet based (13, 12, 2, 3, 4, 8). In learning new concepts is has motivated me to begin attending more professional development trainings in evaluation, distance education, along with other relevant content workshops (14, 6). In many of my courses I have been able to search out new documentation and research using such online resources as the "Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration" as well as several other resources (9, 7).
It is clear that as a result of my participation in all aspects of my Masters degree program that the basic philosophies that I adhere hold true. This degree program has left me in a better position than I was in previously and it has been a rich educational opportunity for this Native American and the ripple effect will be significant.
I would like to say Pila Miya (thank you) to everyone involved in my experience for providing me with the tools and knowledge to help others.
The following MSCET Goals and Objectives are identified by their numbers in the philosophy above.
1. Understand the capabilities of the computer, its impact on education, business, industry and government; and will be able to adapt to, understand, evaluate and make use of new and emerging innovations in computer and information technology.