Latest technologies bring ancient knowledge to life

A program that combines traditional knowledge and the latest technology is helping students and teachers engage with Aboriginal communities.

Branyi Bayann Niiringal program

The power of the latest technologies is being harnessed to help students better understand and share knowledge of Aboriginal Australia, one of the world’s oldest living cultures.

As part of NAIDOC Week celebrations, the Education Department has launched an online teaching and learning resource that will guide students and teachers through the process of engaging with Aboriginal communities to explore Aboriginal sites of significance.

The learning resource, Branyi Bayann Niiringal, was successfully trialled at Sydney Secondary College Leichhardt Campus in Sydney’s inner west, and at Brewarrina Central School in rural NSW.

Branyi Bayann Niiringal is a combination of the Dharug, Bundjalung and Wiradjuri people’s languages, and means Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow.

The resource guides students and teachers through the process of engaging with Aboriginal communities to explore significant Aboriginal sites. There are instructions for using a range of technologies to accurately and respectfully publish digital images and information on the Storylines website.

The resource, available to all NSW schools, was developed by learning designers, Aboriginal education experts from the two schools and local Aboriginal Elders.

Program partners include Aboriginal Education Consultative Group members, Aboriginal Elders, the Burraga Foundation, school staff and the students themselves.

At Brewarrina, students explored local fish traps, talking to local Elders about their significance to Aboriginal culture and society, before publishing their findings online.

As the school’s teacher Amy Green explained, the project enabled the students to bring what they had learned about the traps into the classroom and share it with their teachers and peers.

Brewarrina Elder, Uncle Peter, said Elders took the children to the river to teach them about culture and history.

“The [fish trap] site is significant to community because of the spiritual value that it has to us, and its functional value of catching fish, and it’s a learning place as well for the younger kids,” he said.

The Leichhardt students visited Sydney’s Redfern to talk to members of the local Aboriginal community about the political, cultural, historical and social significance of various sites in the suburb.

The information gathered by the students was incorporated into a website that uses 360-degree images. In the future, many more pinpoints with embedded information and multimedia content produced by students in collaboration with local Elders will be included on the website.

The students loved using the 360-degree cameras to document their work.

“I think it’s really important and really good that we’ve got the technology because it really globalises [the information],” said student Matilda Trudgett.

“It makes it more available for people all around the world to learn about Australia’s history and how important it is that we keep [Aboriginal] culture running through today’s society,” she said.

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