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Disrupting Higher Education in Alaska: Introducing the Native Teacher Certification Pathway

The Disruptive Power of Online Education

ISBN: 978-1-78754-326-3, eISBN: 978-1-78754-325-6

Publication date: 22 November 2018


The geosocial divide that separates many rural regions of Alaska continues to present considerable challenges, such as those that have long plagued the Yukon-Kuskokwim region with cultural and value conflicts. Lack of empirical data and improper identification of the root causes of the ongoing socio-political, cultural and economic disparities between rural Alaska and the rest of the country contribute to the general misconceptions of the turbulent nature of life on the tundra today. In this isolated region, the state has built dozens of schools that largely employ non-Natives. Teacher certification requirements have largely alienated Alaska Natives from pursuing careers in their home villages due to cost, lack of access, lack of student support and irrelevant curriculum. Despite rigorous standards and extraordinary funding opportunities, the current model has traditionally underperformed against both state and national norms.

This research targets a project that re-conceptualizes the teacher certification pipeline for remote Alaska Native villages via the utilisation of a competency-based bilingual curriculum, mentoring and interactive learning delivered via hybrid and online formats. The Native Teacher Certification Pathway proposed will be significant both in its local impact on unemployed adults and Yupik youth, and globally as a site for innovation in the application, delivery and assessment of evidence-based student support activities and programmes. Leveraging place, identity, language and values make learning incredibly powerful, increases efficacy and creates a true impact. Universities and business programmes that are sensitive to this fact and tailor their programmes appropriately will likely see a greater return on their investment.



Berg, P., Cruz, K., Duening, T. and Schoenberg, S. (2018), "Disrupting Higher Education in Alaska: Introducing the Native Teacher Certification Pathway", Altmann, A., Ebersberger, B., Mössenlechner, C. and Wieser, D. (Ed.) The Disruptive Power of Online Education, Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 147-166.



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