Digication Announces Innovation and Leadership Awards at University of Alaska, Anchorage

Dear Digication Community,

Today we are excited to announce Innovation and Leadership Award recipients at the University of Alaska Anchorage’s (UAA) Native Student Services (NSS) office. The University of Alaska Anchorage, the largest higher education institution in the state, provides approximately 20,000 students and 1,500 faculty and staff members with ePortfolios. UAA’s eWolf (ePortfolio) program was formally launched in Fall 2015 and provides students, faculty, staff, and alumni an ability to establish and curate their individual portfolios to document, share and showcase their work and learning.

Native Student Services was established by UAA to provide quality support services to urban and rural Native students promoting: scholastic achievement, student retention, and personal success. Under the leadership of Director WiIly Templeton, the office works to: 

  • foster academic excellence,
  • career development,
  • leadership skills,
  • personal growth,
  • College-transitioning,
  • a sense of belonging, and the attainment of one's scholastic and life goals.

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Native Students Services received an Innovation Award for their insightful use of ePortfolios to explore native cultural identities. In addition, Sheila Randazzo (Transition Advisor) and Cheryl Turner (Office Manager) were recognized with individual Leadership Awards for their important role in launching these conversations.

Jeffrey Yan, Digication Co-founder and CEO shares that, “UAA NSS’s innovative use of ePortfolios is one of many exciting projects growing through our collaboration with UAA. We are humbled by the power of the students stories captured in their ePortfolios pages. We wanted to honor the program and the staff that have brought this important work to life at the campus through these awards. We believe their commitment to this project will have far reaching positive influences on other Native students service programs as well.”

The innovative use of the ePortfolios by UAA NSS is guided by key indigenous beliefs about learning. Many native peoples believe that it is through learning experiences that people come to realize how they are to live a healthy way of life. A healthy way of life demonstrates a balance of: knowledge, physical, provider, emotional, social, and spiritual wellness. Sheila Randazzo explains,

“Alaska Native people are a strong people who have, for centuries, demonstrated tremendous ability to survive within their environment. They are now challenged with adapting to a new society in which they have come into contact with. During this era of transition, Alaska Native students can use the Native Cultural Identity ePortfolio to examine and record their journey of becoming aware of who they are. As students reflect on their identity, students can genuinely embrace self-acceptance and maintain a strong self-perception of themselves and their communities.”

The next phase of work efforts will focus on discussions with native elders and subject matter experts to develop curriculum and lessons to assist interested faculty to incorporate cultural identity efforts into education efforts. “We are excited to work with our Native community to develop a project that can help our Alaska Native students embrace their cultural identity and succeed as students and a people,” Cheryl Turner.

The important work of UAA Native Student Services was recently recognized by Tommy Lee Woon, Director of Diversity & Inclusion at Naropa University, Boulder, Colorado. Woon shared his astonishment in how UAA NSS has "reimagined the ePortfolio as much more than an academic technology. It can support the resurrection, the cultural resurrection of native people to document their lives and share it with each other, not only on campus but virtually with their villages and for that sharing to create a network of storytelling, wisdom, collecting and the rebuilding of lives and communities. "

In the full interview, found here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hotbtyIPFM0Woon reflects on his visit to the University of Alaska Anchorage following the Alaska Native Studies Conference and shares his thoughts on the ePortfolio project overall. 

For those interested in taking a look at the template UAA NSS created for their students, it may be viewed here: 
https://alaska.digication.com/digicationannouncment/My_Holistic_Healthy_Way_of_Life

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The full press release may be found online: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2016/06/prweb13496619.htm

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