News: Indigenous Literacy Day 2017

Today is Indigenous Literacy Day – a national celebration of Indigenous culture, stories, language and literacy.


The Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) work with over 230 remote communities to engage children and their families in Indigenous literacy by gifting new culturally appropriate books to communities, through an early literacy program, and by publishing books written by the Indigenous community.

In this post, we share some examples of Digital Technologies lesson ideas that celebrate Indigenous languages, stories and literacy.

[Please note: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that the following content or links to external content may contain images and voices of people who have died.]

Digital Technologies celebrating Indigenous cultures

Find examples of digital technology that celebrates Indigenous languages, cultures and stories or share stories Indigenous peoples who are creating digital technology innovations for their community. Some examples are:

  • Old Ways New – a company of Indigenous Consultants and Technologists who draw upon Indigenous Knowledge, tapping into tens of thousands of years of culture, research, iterative design and innovation of technology.
  • Translation App to preserve endangered Indigenous Queensland languages.
  • Indigital – bringing Indigenous cultures digitally alive with an Augmented Reality App

Can your students recommend other examples of digital technology for celebrating Australian Indigenous cultures, stories and languages?


Our CSER team from the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia worked together to hold a joint event based in Yulara (Northern Territory), attended by teachers and Aboriginal Education Workers from the 3 regions. This event incorporated in-language discussion and workshops, facilitated by Indigenous translators. 

During the event, Education workers, Indigenous translators and CSER team members worked together to translate the instructions for a familiar Computer Science activity, “My Robotic Friend“, into Pitjantjatjara.

An adaptation of @THINKERSMiTH’s ‘My Robotic Friend’s’ resource with Pitjantjatjara language translation. (

In this activity, students use Pitjantjatjara languages to construct their algorithms, that provide instructions for a peer to follow. This simple idea, of translating instructions (whether it be the Robotic Friend page or sequencing cards), could be adopted for other communities and Indigenous languages, by working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

From our free CSER Digital Technologies F-6: Foundations MOOC (online course), educators are sharing some wonderful ideas for learning about and celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages and stories. In the post below, Maureen Harrison explains an unplugged lesson for exploring data representation in the Digital Technologies curriculum. Using an unplugged activity, students use Indigenous symbols to convey meaning to create and decode stories.



QR codes are one way of representing data. QR codes allow individuals to store information (such as a link to a webpage, image, video or word) and using a mobile phone, users can scan a QR code to be taken directly to that information. In our Digital Technologies, students can learn about how QR codes can store and retrieve information and then create their own QR Code experiences for another class, their families or the public. In the example below, Maureen from our F-6 Foundations MOOC, shares a lesson idea with her class using QR codes in a school garden.

maureen plant example

Taking this idea, students could create QR codes of key literacy words from a local Indigenous language, or create QR code trails that teach others about Indigenous cultures and stories about the land that they are on.

A popular lesson amongst primary school teachers for exploring algorithms, sequencing and Computational Thinking in the F-2 Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies is to have students navigate Bee Bots (or any robotic device) to images or words on a grid, mat or floor. Within a narrative context, after reading a story together, students can start by sequencing printed narrative cards or recounting the sequence of events on a worksheet. After determining the key events, students create algorithms (instructions) that tell the Bee Bot how to navigate to the key story events on the mat.


Popular stories include those with obvious sequences, such as the ‘Three Little Pigs’, ‘Goldilocks and the Three Bears’ and ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’. However, this could provide a wonderful foundation for exploring Indigenous stories that are meaningful to the students and community in which they live. A great place for finding Indigenous stories is via the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. An alternative to using Indigenous stories, could be to have places of cultural importance represented on the mat. After discussing and learning about these important places, students can navigate their robot to the correct locations using their constructed algorithms.

The two books below are from the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) website. See their website for book suggestions, created by Indigenous peoples under their Community Literacy Projects initiative.

Indigenous stories

Another example from our Digital Technologies F-6: Foundations MOOC is from Katherine Jackson, who shares a lesson idea in which she harnesses a Code Club Australia Scratch project for the Gadigal language, and has students remix it for the Palawa kani language.

Katherine post

Below is a screen capture of the NAIDOC Week Language Quiz Scratch project, available to be viewed and remixed by Code Club Australia.

NAIDOC scratch Code Club project,

NAIDOC scratch Code Club project,

This is one example in which students explore Indigenous languages within Scratch using visual programming. However, Scratch is just one platform that can be used to create programs. Younger students could use software such as ScratchJR and older students could use App creation software, such as App Inventor.

Maitland Lutheran School is using a humanoid robot (NAO robot) as part of the process of building respect and understanding of the Narungga language and culture. A native Narungga speaker is working with Maitland Lutheran School to build the confidence of the teachers and students to speak the Narungga language and then students are programming their robot, Pink, to speak in Narungga. The video below (7:56) talks through their unit of learning.

For more information about the robotics project, and how it aligns with the Australian Curriculum, please visit the ACARA website.

These are but a few ideas we share for Indigenous Literacy Day. Educators could invite students to consider, design and/or create digital solutions that celebrate Indigenous culture, stories or languages. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students could create digital projects that align with their own stories, culture and land that have deep meaning for their community.

Please note: Please be mindful of conventions and practices in regards to using Indigenous images, stories and cultural knowledge as well as sensitive to the sharing practices and conventions of the communities in which Indigenous students belong. 

Engage and inspire!

Continue to inspire all students (Indigenous and non-Indigenous) in Indigenous cultures, stories, languages and literacy throughout the year and continue to inspire others!

The Indigenous Literacy Foundation encourages you to engage on social media: “Advocate for us on social media and tag @IndigenousLiteracyFoundation on Facebook and @IndigneousLF on Twitter with #ILD2017″.

Do you have inspiring ideas for connecting the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies with Indigenous stories, languages and cultures, or examples of Inspiring digital solutions? We would love to hear from you. Tag us on social media @cserAdelaide (Twitter) or via our CSER Facebook page.

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