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Wendy Baarda's 2003 report The design and trial of an interactive computer program Lata-kuunu to support Warlpiri school children’s literacy learning, can now be read here. It's a report on a project she did as part of an M.Ed. at the Northern Territory University.

The report presents research on using computers to teach literacy in the Warlpiri community of Yuendumu in the Northern Territory. Wendy describes how she worked with Warlpiri teachers and children to build interactive phonics software for Warlpiri literacy. It is not a conventional report. Singularly lacking in edu-speak, it is filled with acute observations of what Warlpiri adults and children do, based on 28 years of living and teaching at Yuendumu, and how this affects success in learning to read and write. As well, she's put in good stuff on the Warlpiri language used to talk about sounds and letters. The phonics program itself is informed by deep reflection on what children enjoy, and how they learn - and it is painful to think of how much time she has spent getting it to work. The honest account of the difficulties and of trialling the program make this report refreshingly unlike anything else. Not like the commercial whizzbang literacy-in-a-day and this'll-solve-your-problems-lady! approaches sold to Education Departments who've outsourced their advisers. More frank Wendys are needed.

Comments

I actually did a little bit of technical work on this project which I have publicly documented here;

http://minkirri.apana.org.au/~abo/projects/wilr/

It is not as interesting or comprehensive as Wendy's report, but it does include some comments and advice on macromedia projects and a journal that gives some idea about the technical difficulties encountered and how long things take.

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