Five Questions with Leon Appo

Leon Appo was Indigenous X host from August 25 August 28.

In a shrinking world, we are confronted by the expansive and sometimes complicated nature of information technology. And while some of us are attuned to the notion of what an “app” or “widget” is, there’s no doubt that the influx of new technology can be a little daunting, even to the most savvy IT intellectual.

My professional background stems from humble beginnings while working as a diesel mechanic back in my 30s. Education was an important part of our upbringing and I was surrounded by brothers and sisters who excelled at school. They encouraged me to expand my education qualifications and so I went to university to study business, changed my career pathway, and finally ended up working in education with various government departments and the Australian Catholic University.

In 2013, while employed as a projects research officer at the Centre of Indigenous Education and Research, I had the great pleasure working with Dr Jack Frawely and Professor Nereda White, both regarded as leaders in the field of education and who have decades of professional teaching, national and international leadership experience.

At the time we were running other career pathways and education programs but one thing we found lacking was up-to-date IT systems to reach the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community about teacher education training. There were certainly enough education programs being offered around the nation but none with an accessible and simple recruitment program that reached the people we needed it to reach.

After some brainstorming we came up with the idea to develop a smart phone app that would link to a website rich with very specific information about courses, while retaining the connection to real world applications and the importance of cultural heritage.

During 2014 we worked with Brisbane, Charleville and Roma state high schools to develop an app and website. We ran a number of focus groups where students, teachers and community provided feedback on how they thought the app and website should work, including look and feel and user interaction.

It had to be culturally sensitive, vibrant and uncluttered, basically easy to use. This consultation was important to the functionality and design, where the community of end-users could shape what they thought were important aspects.

The app and website are specifically designed for school students and community members to be able to access information about the importance of teacher training and basic steps on how to reach your aspiration in becoming one.

We are now ready to go back out and trial the app in the participation communities. This will allow participants to provide feedback about its design so we can make minor adjustments for the national rollout.

According to Justin Mohamed, CEO of Reconciliation Australia:

Teachers have such an important role in regards to reconciliation, as they have first contact with the next generation and citizens of this country to be able to teach and promote the strengths and values of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.

The project will be completed by 31 October. We are extremely excited about the future development of this project and other Matsiti projects throughout the nation.

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