A Texan Community Bootstrap Academy
"Doing for Ourselves, Together!"
An Education and Economic Development Partnership
by Frank Odasz
Lone Eagle Consulting
A six-month community networking project is proposed to demonstrate a practical process by which citizens can learn to use the Internet to help one another build local human capacity as a natural resource for a stronger, more sustainable "learning" community. The opportunity exists to showcase new ways people can learn to work together to develop social and economic value. Unique training strategies and evaluative metrics will produce high value outcomes in the short term and demonstrate a replicable model of fast-track measurable empowerment for rural communities in the long term.
Addressing the Need
There is extensive and rapidly growing evidence that Internet infrastructure alone will not transform communities. To justify the investment in Internet infrastructure, metrics for defining and evaluating success are fundamentally necessary. There is a urgent need for defining the social engineering methodologies required to create measurably effective community networks. This process begins with imparting a realistic vision for participation to citizens and organizations regarding their specific roles, ongoing activities, and highest value applications. Specific short-term action agendas are required to validate the potential of Internet infrastructure for building collaborative capacity in support of the social and economic sustainability of the community.
Most of America's heartland rural communities are in economic decline, are losing population, and are questioning their sustainability. Due in part to their location, rural communities risk falling behind a changing world economy. The urgent need exists to identify a solution specific to rural communities' unique needs for full application of Internet communications capabilities.
Within the greater community, the need exists to bring together the specific sub-communities around a common purpose: the educational community, the economic development community, the healthcare community, the faith-based and community-based organizations, as examples. As the community vision becomes initially tangible and the first measurable outcomes win positive approval, the process of growing a more and more robust community vision accelerates.
This process requires social mechanisms for encouraging and sustaining citizen participation. Social recognition is important and justified for those who contribute their time and content. Strategies such as friendly competitions can focus the community on identifying the highest quality resources and Internet applications that produce local benefit. Ongoing community goal-setting and self-assessment are fundamentally necessary if forward progress is to be achieved. See Appendices B and C for detailed descriptions of community needs related to this proposal.
An Inevitable Reality for Communities Hoping to be Competitive
As broadband becomes increasingly commonplace, communities are beginning to compete on the demonstrated talents of an inspired and motivated citizenry. Visible demonstrations are a selling point for a community's ability to learn, innovate, and grow their cooperative vision.
The vigor of our communities, and in fact our nation, will depend on creating motivated lifelong learners, proactive citizens who are value-driven, innovative entrepreneurs (using Internet), skilled collaborators, and citizens who are both consumers and producers - both learners and teachers, all the time.
In addition, strategies will be proven which provide the highest citizen motivation to generate the highest levels of community benefit, requiring the least investment of time, money, and prerequisite literacy. Public metrics of success are designed to become a competitive measure validating those communities who most effectively combine caring, and connectivity, with common sense.
Methodology for the Project "Kick-off"
Rising from tragedy, the recent "War on Terrorism" has created a new readiness for civic engagement in America, and if the Internet truly offers community solutions, then it's high time we got on with the task for clarifying solutions and implementing them. Clarity of vision, shared purpose, and defining the specific steps forward are vital in order to leverage the community's collective will for vigorous sustainability.
The six-month "Community Bootstrap Academy," begins with a 4-day series of project "kick-off" presentations for the key communities, within the greater community, presented by Frank Odasz, president of Lone Eagle Consulting. Through this presentation series, the whole community will be shown specific ways to demonstrate how their various constituents synergistically identify a vision, create initial web-based content, and clarify specific applications to benefit the community.
During these presentations a very realistic and doable plan for identifying and realizing the highest levels of benefit possible will be presented. Proposed is a six-month plan of engagement with a minimum of one major community event per month, but with the anticipation of many more hosted by the participating organizations. Low-cost, short-term community event models and community Internet awareness competition models will be offered to existing community organizations and Internet Service Providers to allow them to sponsor significant contributions in web-based content and community spirit without major financial commitments. The highly replicable nature of these events and competitions will prove to be self-sustaining.
The theme for this "bottom-up" Community Bootstrap Academy is "building a learning community" by showing how to get people involved productively. The degree of benefit the community will realize from Internet infrastructure depends ultimately on how well people have learned to apply the infrastructure. A unique metrics approach will provide the community with ongoing public self-assessment measures of its progress creating a true community network. The authenticity of this community network will be determined by the public self-assessment metrics of citizen participation, new skills and content development, and new entrepreneurial start-ups. Citizens will be asked for a minimum time commitment in return for free participation in workshops and online training events. The social recognition for individuals' participation is projected to be self-reinforcing and ultimately sustainable by the community.
The Community Bootstrap Academy begins with co-authoring the press release or guest editorial which will be released as the final project component at the end of this six-month shared "web-raising" of a model community network. This public document is specifically designed to inspire other communities to imagine what can be done when a community makes the commitment to do what needs to be done. In addition, full documentation in story form of the planned activities will allow Alpine to literally "write the book" on how a community can pull together to bootstrap its own sustainability. As the original vision and story become reality through the actions of the community, there is a real possibility that this academy can evolve into a cottage industry by which local citizens provide for-profit online mentoring services for citizens in other communities seeking to replicate Alpine's success.
Draft of A Potential Press Release or Guest Editorial for July, 2002The Alpine economic development council held a meeting, January 2002, to seek volunteers for a community economic development "Web-raising" initiative. Supported by TIF funding, local citizens and organizations created an innovative plan to work together to create a "Community Bootstrap Academy" to explore how to 'put the spurs' to realizing the untapped potential of the Internet for building a sustainable "learning" community.
Multiple community events were held to generate community Internet awareness, both offline and online. Citizens learned how to leverage the Internet to the benefit of all. As people became aware of what they could learn and share from the Internet, many new home-based Ecommerce start-up businesses were created. Knowledge of replicable Ecommerce opportunities were shared, excitement grew, and the stories of successes and new initiatives exploded.
Remarkably, over 200 citizens volunteered to offer their expertise online as topical mentors. Their collective expertise is offered to the community through the Alpine Mentorship Database. Rapid sharing of new skills created new collaborations, resulting in new dramatically enhanced abilities of the community to share new knowledge and continually innovate using the Internet.
Furthermore, over 250 resource web pages were created, reflecting the best Internet content gathered by hundreds of citizens, totaling thousands of hours mining the Internet for the best-of-the-best resources by topic. The entire community benefited from easy access to the highest quality resources, such as replicable Ecommerce success stories. Exciting new jobs were created within the community for those who showcased the quality of their expertise through their volunteered resources.
A dozen community events, including web-based content competitions, were sponsored by local community organizations and businesses. Event sponsors enjoyed significant public relations exposure by creating opportunities for citizens to learn about the potential Internet applications and to show the community new capabilities. The social recognition citizens received served as motivation for sustaining their mentoring and web-based resource contributions.
Proudly, Alpine citizens created an enviable model community through their own spirit of determination, innovation, and generosity. Alpine plans a new cottage industry providing for-profit online mentoring services for those in other communities seeking to learn how to replicate Alpine's success in their own communities.
"Combining Caring And Connectivity with Common Sense, and a plan of action, was all it took, the Alpine citizens later reflected." "It was time to take action to assure the sustainability of our community, and we simply did what needed to be done." "We were amazed at how rapidly the vision and local innovations developed once we began efficiently sharing new knowledge online within the community."
In summary, Alpine has demonstrated that the Internet offers incredible capabilities and that a community vision for active participation is required to realize its tremendous potential. We have learned that we can create a revolution at will by accepting that there are great things we can do together using these new tools, and by deciding to prove what We, The People, are capable of!
The full story narrative of the evolution of Alpine's successful six-month "Community Bootstrap Academy" will be available online.
Community Internet Awareness Events
Community events will be hosted in partnership with multiple community organizations and businesses specifically to provide multimedia showcase opportunities of skill and strategies for leveraging the potential of Internet to create, in new ways, both local social and economic value. Youth participation will be a special emphasis because youth today are the technology leaders in most homes and communities. Irrevocably, they are the leaders of tomorrow.
See the sample event descriptions are listed in The Bootstrap Academy
One Competition Example: Local economic development organizations
could sponsor a simple competition for the best web-based listing of Internet
entrepreneurial successes that could be replicated locally. Web-based instructional
opportunities related to Ecommerce would be emphasized. Winning entries would be judged as
those best designed for appropriate use by local citizens.
See the "Ecommerce Start-up Training Resources"
The themes of "Fun, Social, Learning" and "Youth-driven Multimedia Storytelling" will leverage the opportunities to diffuse techno-anxiety barriers and bring people together around a common cause. The highest initial motivation will be achieved by sharing the social fun of learning exciting new technologies such as digital cameras, digital art, and digital music.
Extensive resources to support these programs have evolved from the long history of
community education presentations and workshops by Lone Eagle Consulting.
Lone Eagle Consulting http://lone-eagles.com/
Building Learning Communities Resources http://lone-eagles.com/teled.htm
Rural Community Empowerment Resources http://lone-eagles.com/ruralempowerment.htm
A Key Pre-planning Issue: Expectations increase with Experience.
As people learn more about the possibilities of Internet applications, "enlightened expectations" occur, where new possibilities emerge in the minds of citizens. This is a very real psychological process which needs to be recognized, implemented, and evaluated. Participants of all ages will initially draft short vision statements for how they think a community could use the Internet for self-empowerment, with emphasis on short-term implementation. Flexibility is essential in order to take advantage of insights as the project progresses. These initial visions will most definitely change and grow.
When Alpine has completed this six-month project success will be measured by the quality of all the products that have been created that are producing measurable benefit. Alpine will demonstrate the obvious replicability of its implementation strategy through thorough documentation of the entire project, process, and products.
A key community challenge is the efficiency of the process by which citizens learn the most important Internet skills through short-term non-threatening self-empowerment learning opportunities - ideally in association with existing community technology centers. This defined process produces local online content, multimedia communications skills that are routinely used, and a collaborative dynamic that produces visible benefit through improved communications. Only through direct hands-on involvement will the skills and potential of online learning and online collaboration be understood and embraced by the citizens of the community.
There are three online learning courses that could be created in support of this project beginning with a short non-credit Ecommerce course for citizens designed as a follow-up learning opportunity for community events such as the following workshop description:
True Community Internet Empowerment
A Three-Hour Community Workshop Description
The Internet offers unprecedented self-empowerment and Ecommerce opportunities. But, it's ultimately what people learn to do with these Internet capabilities that will determine the degree to which they will benefit. This unique workshop will present multiple opportunities for fast-track self-empowerment and Ecommerce start-up training for rural citizens. A twenty-hour online (currently non-credit) course will be offered for follow-up skill building and ongoing interaction ($39/person.) Strategies for creating a low-cost, short-term, "Community Bootstrap Academy" to generate local Internet awareness, web-based content, and collaborative capacity will be presented. Alpine has the opportunity to become one of the first model rural communities to demonstrate the self-empowerment potential of the Internet, regardless of available Internet access speeds (bandwidth.)
Ecommerce Online Course for Rural Adults
Idaho State University will host four of these rural community workshops for Idaho rural communities February, 25-27th, 2002, and has funded the creation of the online course for initial online delivery March 1st, 2002.
A second online course opportunity is to partner with the University in Alpine to offer the following unique online course for educators:
"Building Learning Communities;
Creating Social and Economic Value in the Knowledge Age."
Three Semester Graduate Credits
Course Description: Learn how to integrate citizenship, character education, web-authoring, and Internet skills to engage your students with their local community to grow a vision for their joint future. Project-based learning models and extensive existing web-based curriculum will provide your students with challenges in developing their Internet self-directed learning skills. Students will identify for themselves and their community how people can learn use the Internet to develop social and economic value. Students will use online tutorials to teach themselves how to use digital art, photography, and music for digital story-telling and multimedia presentations. A student entrepreneurship challenge will focus on those Ecommerce opportunities which can provide local jobs to provide students with the option to avoid relocation upon graduation and to assure their community's future.
See Appendix A for a detailed description of this proposed online course.
A third online training opportunity, proposed to be offered in conjunction with community events:
A Community "Train-the-Trainers" Skills and Content Development Program
A unique "Train-the-Trainers" online learning and citizen mentoring resource will be created to facilitate the rapid growth of new skills and motivation. A series of very easy, but highly relevant and motivating mini-lessons will be posted on the web to help citizens quickly identify a vision of the potential. As a "Train-the-Trainers" program, each mini-lesson will point to successive levels for self-directed learning, with the incentive of a Community Builder (CyberRangers?) certification and embroidered patch for those who complete all three levels for each of the five skill categories. The five skill categories will match the five points of the Texas Star, and will be presented as clickable buttons on a star graphic web page. The Texas Star will also be the dominant image of the certification patch along with the text "Certified Community Builder - Building a Future for Alpine".
This unique "Train-the-Trainers" program will provide easy mini-lessons for the five most important community-building Internet skills, each with three successive levels for self-directed learning. The five skills categories will be the emphasis for skill development, public metrics, and trainer certification. This empowerment matrix of skills will be posted as a self-directed learning web site, with anticipation that those first "certified" will become online mentors for those to follow. This skills matrix will initially emphasize "Lone Star" independent self-directed Internet learning skills in a classic 'western individualist' context and will end with emphasizing how to apply an individual's skills toward the purposeful building and sustaining of rural Texan communities.
Five Essential Survival Skills
1. Email Skills as Essential for Electronic Citizenship
2. Search Engine Skills as Essential for Self-directed Internet
3. Web Self-publishing Skills as Essential for Local and Global
Ecommerce and Expression
4. Mentoring and Teaching Skills as Essential for Sharing
Knowledge in Your Community
5. Entrepreneurship Skills as Essential for Individual, Family,
and Community Sustainability
Description of the Strategy Behind This Five Skills Model
Briefly, as Email skills are developed, citizens become more connected to the community. As searching skills are developed citizens gain the ability to gather resources of benefit to themselves and the community. As basic web-authoring skills are developed, citizens gain the ability to share these resources with the community in a convenient public manner. As mentoring skills are developed, citizens gain the understanding of how to combine email, searching, and web-authoring skills to share knowledge effectively to make a real difference in the lives of others. Finally, as value is demonstrated, the entrepreneurial potential of instructional entrepreneurship, as well as opportunities for traditional Ecommerce, will become dramatically clear. There are three distinct learning levels for each of the five skills. The "Three Level" model described below presents an easy-to-understand learning pathway for self-empowerment.
The Three Levels for Each Skill are:
1. The Vision for Use of the Skill
A 5-minute introduction to the benefits of each skill
followed by a few sample resources.
2. The Basic Instruction to Acquire
A two-hour hands-on lesson to acquire the essentials of this skill.
Robust resources for additional learning will be provided.
3. The Methods for Using This Skill
to Benefit Yourself and Others
A two-hour hands-on lesson to learn how to apply this skill effectively
to benefit both oneself and one's community. Many examples of how
others are using this skill to benefit their own communities will be presented.
Whenever citizens achieve their demonstrated "Community Builder" skill certifications web-based recognition of their certification will be publicly displayed on the Alpine Mentorship Database which will be celebrated as a key metric of citizen commitment and talent sharing. Local trainers will become the primary online mentors for local online skills development. Those still working on their certification will be supported by the community trainers as a priority for this community-driven 'Train-the-Trainers' program. An example Mentorship Roster is at http://www.vrd.org/locator/alphalist.shtml and Mentoring Models are listed at http://lone-eagles.com/mentor.htm. .
Two Types of Participants Will Quickly Emerge. One type of participant will be the advanced scouts, most likely to be the most motivated youth, who will be supported to learn at their own speed. This allows for rapid generation of local expertise. The second type of participant will be citizens who work at their own pace to raise the percentage of the entire community developing skills via the easy-to-understand self-empowerment matrix. Alert individuals can ideally learn as fast as they want, to scout the frontier, and to become local mentors. Meanwhile, groups can pace themselves to explore the collaborative potential and community-wide adoption of new knowledge-sharing skills.
Skill Sharing: Many skills don't need to be learned by everyone, such as creating composite images or advanced web page features, so a barter economy focused on local niche expertise becomes immediately viable. Also, skills such as knowing how to create a digital music sound file and posting it on a web page make better sense to be at least initially represented by someone who has achieved high levels of skill. This creates a role for multiple skills sets among multiple persons, easing the learning overhead of the entire community, while creating motivated local specialists for the higher tiers of skills in digital photography, art, video, and music. The social recognition for their showcased expertise is intended to motivate generous sharing of skills in the short term. The end goal is to create interesting local jobs for local citizens as they demonstrate that their new skills are indeed worth paying for!
A Community Engagement Program with Explicit Outcomes
Consider: Community is the sum of
what we give to each other.
Community consists of those to which we give of our time and talents.
Measurements are the key to success
Like the United Way fund-raising thermometer, as citizens develop their skills and participate by mentoring and creating web-based content, visible progress will be displayed on both an online, and offline, Texas Star graphic as an ongoing community self-assessment tool. This will be in addition to the separate star graphic display of the skill-building mini-lessons. An initial goal of a specific number of contributing citizens would be set for this six-month project. Record-keeping will be volunteered via email, or via web-based interactive forms, as the specific means by which participants can demonstrate their support of the community, and the success of this bootstrap project. The project also serves as a public showcase for demonstration of high levels of community commitment, cooperation, and collaboration.
Alpine's Star of Success
Five Community ongoing Self-assessment Measures for Public Display
1. The number of participating citizens with Email capabilities
2. The number of participating citizens with Searching Skills
3. The number of participating citizens hosting simple resource Web Pages
4. The number of participating citizens volunteering as Online Mentors
5. The number of local Ecommerce web pages
Additional Suggestions for Measures of Community Success
1. Infrastructure, Computer Ownership, Computer Sharing
2. Self-confidence, Vision, and Motivation
Original Assessment: Initial and ongoing measurements are necessary for tracking availability of personal computers and Internet access, and how often citizens utilize specific public access equipment and community technology centers. Records are kept before, during, and at the end of the six-month training period by citizens as a means of measuring project progress. Loaner laptops with leasing plans and recycling used computers are recommended as economical options.
Ideal Outcomes: Assessing the change in methods of use, and access, can showcase how many citizens purchased home computers as a result of being motivated by the training, or became motivated enough to seek out regular access to public access points. Shared use of home systems is also something to monitor with social recognition given to those who help provide access and mentoring to others.
Simple surveys will be used to monitor the initial and ongoing levels of self-confidence, motivation, and vision. Note that this overall project will indeed depend on the effectiveness of motivating citizens for sustained participation during the six-month training period and possibly beyond.
Ideal Outcomes: To finish the project with accurate measurements of increased motivation, self-confidence, and vision of the potential benefits could be important for future fund-raising. Demonstrating the effectiveness of the project's strategies for engaging citizens in producing tangible outcomes will inspire the replicability potential for future similar programs in other communities.3. Community Engagement Events
Original Assessment: The project will begin with a defined number of initial "Kick-off" presentations followed by single monthly community events which will be publicly recorded under the "Alpine Star of Success" graphic (like the United Way Goals and Outcomes Model) with the sponsors, number of attendees, measurable content outcomes, and the local assessment of the effectiveness of each event. Included will be a brief note on any new short-term, or ongoing, resulting collaborations, and the creative events which proved to be the successful incentives for these new collaborations.
Ideal Outcomes: The value of the public relations benefits are expected to far exceed minor financial investments for sponsoring additional community events and web-content competitions; thus sustainability for sponsoring future events is viable. Furthermore, the ability to publicize many additional "community-generated" events will be important for future community fund-raising.
4. Archiving Storytelling, Anecdotes, and Testimonials
Original Assessment: Exciting activities begin with the very first event of the project. Stories and anecdotes will be publicly shared on the project web-site, testimonials documented, and new innovations and initiatives recorded and published appropriately.
Ideal Outcomes: The narrative of the progressively greater interest, and innovation, demonstrated by the community in expanding upon the original project plan can make a compelling story about how citizens can learn to participate directly in leveraging the public good - electronically. This story will ultimately be Alpine's most powerful promotional vehicle for the "for-profit" online mentoring services offered to other communities.
5. Skills development, Local Online Mentoring
Original Assessment: Simple surveys will be used to measure the initial skills of all project participants, and subsequently, the new skills that were developed. Records will be kept on public "electronic portfolios" on who mentored whom (both offline and online,) what skills were shared, and documentation of the effectiveness of their mentorship.
Ideal Outcomes: Elegant documentaries of the successes developing new skills across the community - and particularly the success of local mentors in developing new skills in others - will be a key motivator for mentors by providing them with social recognition for their generosity as well as their effectiveness. Future employability opportunities for offering "for-profit" mentoring services will require proof of one's mentoring effectiveness as documented by their "electronic portfolios."
6. Distinguish the Best Dial-up Applications
From the Best Broadband Applications
Original Assessment: The need exists to demonstrate those community applications which best justify the considerable financial investments required to provide broadband community-wide, and to distinguish these from the best applications of low-bandwidth Internet access, such as local dial-up services. An accurate initial assessment of the best dial-up applications will be necessary to make a clear case for the need and roles for broadband services. A common mistake is to presume that the value of the community Internet applications are directly related to the level of bandwidth. On the contrary, other factors, such as human bandwidth, play a vital role in determining the level of realized end benefit, regardless of electronic bandwidth. Years of experience with Internet training of teachers in schools have shown that if each dollar invested in infrastructure is not matched with a dollar spent for Internet training, the resulting seriously under-utilized infrastructure will devalue the infrastructure investment.
Ideal Outcomes: A specific emphasis on showcasing community applications of Internet broadband (high bandwidth) such as community self-publishing of art, music, video, graphical information systems (GIS) and more, may be necessary economically to justify the value of broadband connectivity.
February March April May June
Kick-off presentations -----
Six Community Events -- -- -- -- -- --
Ecommerce Mini-course ----------------------------------------------------
Educators Course ---------------------------------------------------
Post Tests --------
Final Celebration -----
The daily rate for workshops and presentations by Frank Odasz is $1500/day. The rate
for travel days and working days online from Dillon is $500/day.
Online instruction for recertification credit for educators, and informal online mentorship for community trainers, will be delivered online to keep the training costs down and to specifically model and teach online instructional mentorship skills. The most cost-effective community strategy is to emphasize the need for a local online "Train-the-Trainers" program.
Creation of the online course for educators "Building Learning Communities"
(Described in detail in Appendix A).....................................................................$7500
Creation of the "Train-the-Trainers course -Three levels for Five Essential Skills"..$5000
Proposed are four initial presentation days and two workshop event days
per month for six months, totaling $1500 x 16 =.................................................$24000
Two online mentoring days per month for six months (2 x $500 x 6)= ................ $6000
One day travel per each of the seven visits total (7x$500) =.................................$3500
Travel expenses to be verified by receipts estimated at .........................................$7000
Other Budget Considerations
1. Purchase a digital art tablet, a Sony CD-1000 digital camera, and digital music
equipment totaling roughly $2700 for each community technology center
to provide widespread adoption of these skills, plus the ability to learn
digital storytelling using digital art, photography, and music.
2. Budget $1000 per 100 copies for printing an Alpine version of "Common Ground -
A Cross-cultural Self-directed Learner's Internet Guide" as a local fundraising effort,
reselling them for $15 each.. The online version is at http://lone-eagles.com/guide.htm
The Native American version is at http://lone-eagles.com/nativeguide.htm
At additional cost, Ecommerce and other specific content can be added at the client's
3. Funds for prizes for multiple local web content competitions. $1000+ for three
per competition. Recommended prizes are:
First Place: Digital Camera,
Second Place: Digital Art Tablet
Third Place: MIDI Musical keyboard
4. Funds for food and physical spaces for community events and celebrations for
local achievements, hosting multimedia presentations, and content creation events.
The product of this proposal will be to have a clear plan to motivate widespread citizen participation in support of tangible community goals. Success of the plan will be demonstrated by an evaluative metrics model. This "seed" project can be expected to inspire many related local initiatives once the model of motivating citizens and measuring beneficial outcomes has been demonstrated.
Extensive articles, guides, and resources are readily available in support of the above proposal and will be demonstrated and shared during the course of this six-month project. The unique interests, assets, and personalities of Alpine will be guides for the final project implementation plan.
Appendix A - Proposal For a New Online Course for Educators
Appendix B - An Alternative Course-related
Community-wide Implementation Model
Appendix C - "The War Against Ignorance"
an article on the needs of rural communities
Proposal For a New Online Course for Educators
An online graduate level recertification course for educators will be created to bring together the leadership potential of the educational community: administrators, teachers, parents, and students, to identify how education relates to success in the "knowledge age" with emphasis on social entrepreneurship. "Social entrepreneurship" is literally the convergence of education and economic development in the emerging service economy. The sheer numbers of citizens of all ages involved in the educational community suggests strongly that they play a significant role in leading this community education initiative.
The Community Bootstrap Academy project will integrate the following unique online
course "Building Learning Communities" for educators. It creates web-based
project-based learning units to be used as models of student activity engaging local
citizens in creating a community vision. These activities will include tangible steps
forward for designing local web-based content, and collaborative activities, around the
theme of "building a 21st century learning community."
. Included are the specific methodologies on how Internet resources and collaborative
capabilities can be applied to developing both local and global citizenship, service
learning projects, and youth Ecommerce entrepreneurhip.
"Building Learning Communities;
Creating Social and Economic Value in the Knowledge Age."
Course Description: Learn how to integrate the teaching of
citizenship, character education, web-authoring, and Internet skills to engage your
students with their local community to grow a vision for their joint future. Students will
identify for themselves and their community a vision for how people can learn to use the
Internet to develop social and economic value. Project-based learning models and extensive
existing web-based curriculum will provide your students with challenges in developing
their Internet self-directed learning skills. Students will use online tutorials to teach
themselves how to use digital art, photography, and music for digital story-telling and
multimedia presentations to communicate this vision. A student entrepreneurship challenge
will focus on those Ecommerce opportunities which can provide local jobs to provide
students with the option to avoid relocation upon graduation and to assure their
This three-semester credit course for educators presents a hands-on review of Internet resources and curriculum templates integrating K12 character and citizenship education with online collaboration and creating web-based instructional content to grow local community Internet awareness. Growing successful citizens, and sustainable communities, in the "knowledge age" requires a K12 leadership role for developing both local, and global, citizenship by teaching how to create both social and economic value.
Short-term, youth-driven, service learning project models will be presented for creating local web-based content for their communities showcasing local and regional Ecommerce and entrepreneurial Internet innovations. These projects will help students become involved with their communities' economic development and sustainability issues. Students will learn how to win funding for their community projects from local businesses and organizations.
Educators will learn the easiest methods for creation of web-based instructional content within the context of how to teach students web-based content creation. This content includes essential knowledge worker skills such as self-directed Internet learning and online collaboration. Students will learn how helping others online can lead to instructional entrepreneurship services and businesses. Success as knowledge workers in a global knowledge economy requires a K12 emphasis on developing the social value of students and requires they become skilled at creating and maintaining meaningful relationships both offline and online.
Whereas in the past the two concepts of the public and private sectors might have appeared to be morally at odds, in the new service economy "social entrepreneurship" is emerging as the synergy of the best of both worlds. Ecommerce entrepreneurship basic concepts will be introduced with the overriding theme of "Information condenses to knowledge, which condenses to wisdom, and VALUE is created in the knowledge age." Introductory online units for use with students will be included as a means of integrating technology standards with writing, reading, and civic studies curriculum.
Online mini-courses designed for teachers to use with their students will provide students with their first, brief, online learning experiences. Students will then create similar brief mini-courses for other students, for which they would then mentor their peers and evaluate the outcomes. Community-building Internet applications have not kept pace with the technology. Under the theme of "Building Learning Communities," students will learn first hand how online collaboration can benefit their communities, while developing their knowledge worker skills in online groupwork and instructional entrepreneurship. The theme here is: "Everyone both learner and teacher, both consumer and producer, all the time."
Sample Four-hour Mini-courses:
Mini-course 1: Internet Self-empowerment -
Becoming a Self-directed Learner
Successive hands-on experiences are presented simply to build the skills for using search engines, free web tools, and the Internet to learn anything from anywhere at any time.
Mini-course 2: Empowering Others through Internethttp://lone-eagles.com/eagle2.htm
Learn to help build the learning capacity of your community through successive hands-on experiences using Internet collaborative tools and instructional authoring tools for citizen-to-citizen instruction and mentorship.
Mini-course 3: Easy Internet Ecommerce for Beginnershttp://lone-eagles.com/eagle3.htm
Successive hands-on experiences are presented simply to build skills and concepts using free Ecommerce tools, services, and resources. Emphasis is on identification of existing successful models that are easily replicated - such as Ebay auctions.
Addressing the Need
There is an immediate need to bridge the gap between the K-12 goal of creating competent citizens and the students ability to understand the role the Internet will play not only in economic development but also in their own future employability. The accelerating pace of change requires students to learn how to think innovatively and how to maintain awareness of successful innovations related to emerging vocational and entrepreneurial opportunities in their communities.
The sustainability of our communities and society depends on creating motivated lifelong learners, proactive citizens who are value-driven; (character education and service learning), innovative entrepreneurs (using Internet), skilled collaborators, both offline and online, and citizens who are both consumers and producers, both learners and teachers, all the time.
Self-directed Internet learning skills have become essential. Strategies to make smart personal decisions require that one stays current in a world of accelerating change. Information overload from too much of the wrong kind of information is becoming an increasingly serious problem. Overcoming information overload requires becoming more skilled at being increasingly selective on specific online collaboration skills.
Citizenship education needs to include values development in the form of character education and service learning. A knowledge society and an electronic democracy require educated citizens with skills in both offline and online collaboration and articulation. Internet skills for self-directed learning and web self-publishing are required for competent citizens in a knowledge society. Our educational system needs to develop future citizens' ability to create both social and economic value in a balanced manner.
Character Education Web Tour http://lone-eagles.com/chared.htm
Many realistic student-driven community activities will be presented for students to initiate interaction with their community to gather content for local web display. Community awareness will be focused on proven opportunities the Internet represents. Details are available in
The Bootstrap Academy http://lone-eagles.com/academy.htm
There are many successful models of project-based learning and student creation of web-based content to benefit the local community which will be reviewed for local use in this unique course for educators. As awareness grows through the use of existing curricular models, educators will learn to use existing templates to begin to create their own innovative curriculum. Moreover, students will also learn to use templates to create instructional experiences for students and adults in the local community. Details are available in:
Building Individual and Community Collaborative Capacity A Web Tour
Project-based Learning Project Directories
Project-based Learning Resources
To name a few examples of successful youth-driven web content competitions and projects:
The International Cyberfair competition, http://www.gsh.org, describes how elementary students create web pages celebrating eight categories of local achievement.
The Community Networkers Youth Initiative http://communitynetworkers.org, students champion the cause of creating online content to benefit the local community
The International Thinkquest Competition, http://www.thinkquest.org, students internationally have created over 4,500 instructional web sites to help others learn online.
The Camp Internet Family-oriented Learning Expeditions, http://www.campinternet.net, engage families with learning together how the Internet can be used for family programs.
The Global Schoolhouse Projects Directory, http://www.gsh.org , where teachers can post multi-classroom collaborative projects to find international partners.
At Webquest sites, (see http://lone-eagles.com/capacity.htm ) curriculum templates are available for teachers and students to create online project-based learning units, often based on real-world problem-solving.
Entrepreneurship sites and cooperatives for youth and women are listed along with Ecommerce Start-up training resources and sites offering free Ecommerce web sites.
Mentoring Models, Guides, and Resources
Building Learning Communities Resources
Rural Community Empowerment Resources
An Alternative Course-related Community-wide Implementation Model
While the conceptual framework for the online course in Appendix A establishes educator and youth leadership components as part of the Community Bootstrap Academy proposal, the following represents a more limited special project component of the online course for those not engaged in the Community Bootstrap Academy project.
Community Internet Self-empowerment Demonstration Project Models
More and more communities are investing in Internet at higher and higher speeds. Some clarifications are emerging regarding the real challenges in producing the desired outcomes for which the technology itself presents only the first step.
The ideal community self-empowerment vision is that once the Internet access becomes available, inspired citizens will immediately visualize their opportunities by becoming self-directed lifelong learners, proactive entrepreneurs, and/or innovative skilled collaborators by creating new social and economic value for their communities. The ultimate goal is an educated democracy with citizens producing a balance of local and global contributions, working together to fight information overload, accelerating change, and increasing uncertainty to create a safe, happy, sustainable community. The goal is for everyone to be motivated and empowered at the highest levels possible. Despite these high-minded goals, and the corresponding potential values, the reality is most communities gravitate to the lower tier of Internet applications. It is becoming dramatically obvious that a more focused approach is needed on our notion.
Projects are needed which can demonstrate in concrete terms how to quick-start the highest levels of community benefits with the least overall costs in time, effort, and prerequisite literacy. Where such model communities don't exist, we need to create them. The resultant storytelling will inspire others to construct their own vision, and a real plan, for the mobilization of their own community's collective will.
A short-term community project involving educators, students, citizens and local businesses is proposed with the goal being creation of a methodology for initiating ongoing public self-assessment for community Internet empowerment as well as producing local online content created by large numbers of local citizens. Many realistic student-driven community activities for students to initiate interaction with their community, to gather content for local web display, to raise community awareness about the genuine opportunities the Internet represents are detailed at:
The Bootstrap Academy http://lone-eagles.com/academy.htm
Through educators' participation in the online course they will engage K12 students in working with local citizens, to gather and post on the web Internet resources targeted to be of highest benefit to the local community, and/or conduct similar short-term, widespread community awareness activities relating to the following themes and community benefits:
1. Vision: Create appreciation for the power of a shared vision
for specific community benefits potentially realized by everyone
working together toward the common goal of defining how the Internet
can help empower the local community.
2. Sharing Resources: Create appreciation for the value of
local web posting of carefully selected high value Internet
resources by multiple citizens for healthcare, Ecommerce, parents,
women, kids, seniors, etc..
3. Peer Mentoring: Create appreciation for the role Internet
can play linking citizens with each other through creation of
mentoring and knowledge sharing opportunities both online and offline.
The specific methodology would be:
1. Vision: Articulate online an ideal vision for community
Internet empowerment for your community. List online local
innovations and stories of current successes, and future
possibilities, to inspire all who see them.
2. Sharing Resources: List replicable innovations and
resources from other communities and Internet sources
as models to inspire local creativity and validate the potential
for your community.
3. Peer Mentoring on the Web: List local mentors,
and the topics of expertise they offer, and create social
incentives of recognition for those who share their knowledge
with others. Help enlist new mentors by showing them how to
gather links to create topical web resources to share with the
local community. Create opportunities for people to gather in
person to see what others are doing with the Internet. Make
the possibilities visible to all.
The following article was written to address a number of motivating themes for general citizens in support of the above online course, and community demonstration projects.
The War Against Ignorance
by Frank Odasz, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ignorance is when we don't know what to do.
Stupidity is when we do know what to do
and don't do it.
We're all ignorant, only on different topics.
At issue is can we learn to use the Internet to
learn, and to share what we know, and have
learned, to benefit our communities?
There are many serious battlefronts in communities today, and one of the most personal battles individuals face is that of missing their own opportunities by simply not knowing what is available and possible for them, until it is too late.
Before local dialup Internet became widely available, visionaries were articulating how local access to the unlimited possibilities of the Internet would transform the lives of individuals and whole communities. Unlimited access to self-directed learning opportunities, access to global Ecommerce niche markets, and literally to whatever information one could imagine would be at our fingertips whenever needed if only we had local dialup Internet access.
We got it, as far as the local Internet access, but realizing the full measure of our own true potential through this access was missed by most of us. Today, as we hear promises that broadband offers these same missed benefits, many are turning away from the technohype in disbelief. What's missing here?
The slump in technology stocks validates in the minds of many that the promise of the Internet was overblown. Disenfranchised citizens are bombarded with news about the Internet scams, spam, porn, perverts, and viruses. We see the TV ads by huge companies touting Internet shopping and chat to attract consumers to their online entertainment services. The only real money being made on the Internet appears to be by the big media companies and by scams reselling false promises of easy money, enticing customers with the incessant porn pitches.
Americans today are fighting information overload as well as increasing alienation from their communities, amid the eroding belief that together we can accomplish great things for our communities and nation. We're each fighting against accelerating change, shifting economies, the sense of loss of community, and diminishing personal safety.
With America's new War on Terrorism, the important issues of patriotism and factual reporting appear increasingly overwhelmed by the glitz of the media wars hedging steadily toward creating entertainment from tragic world events.
Mass media's efforts to position citizens as media consumers, using incredibly effective technologies to imprint a limited version of reality on the minds of citizens, appears to be in opposition to the original vision that the Internet is a self-empowerment and self-publishing medium which allows citizens to become proactive producers able to have a profound postive impact on the world.
With the economy in a slump and the war on terrorism, if there's something we could be doing, wouldn't we be doing it? The war has created a new sense of national unity and a renewed local and national desire to contribute to our communities, and nation, but few know what exactly to do. Can the Internet provide a solution for our economy? Has the economic development potential of the Internet already been disproved? If the geniuses of Silicon valley can't make it work, what chance do we have? Many of us now believe that the Internet is a time-wasting toy best suited for kids.
However, this perception is very common - and very wrong! The Internet offers profoundly powerful capabilities never before available to citizens throughout human history, and our perceptions are part of the problem. Our war against ignorance requires us to be proactively innovative. Internet applications are limited only by our imaginations. Most of the promises of the Internet depend less on the technology and more on the application of our collective will to make something good happen.
The American readiness to fight the good fight; to do what needs to be done, today must focus on identifying how the Internet can really be used by good people to make a real difference, locally, and globally. At issue, is whether most people actually know how to make a positive contribution, and care enough to do so, or are ignorant about the positive impacts the Internet offers. If there was a clear vision for Americans to leverage the public good via the Internet, few of us would neglect to act.
There are already many exemplary examples to make the case for the widespread positive impact of one individual's effort. We've sure seen many cases of the widespread negative impacts, too. Where is the leadership on how to mobilize our collective will to take purposeful action applying the Internet's capabilities, both socially and economically? Perhaps it must come from the citizens themselves, from the bottom-up, starting at the local level.
Information-overloaded people are seeking to simplify their lives. There is a real need for simple structured programs with measurable community benefits and web-based content as outcomes. Strategies are needed for growing the visions for meaningful community Internet applications.
Here are a few simple suggestions as a place to begin:
1. Articulate online an ideal vision for community Internet empowerment for your
community. List online local innovations and stories of current successes, and
future possibilities, to inspire all who see them.
2. List replicable innovations from other communities as models to inspire local
creativity and validate the potential of what's possible for your community.
3. List on the web local mentors, and the topics of expertise they offer, and create social
incentives of recognition for those who share their knowledge with others. Help enlist
new mentors by showing them how to gather links to create topical web resources to
share with the local community. Create opportunities for people to gather in person to
see what others are doing with the Internet. Make the possibilities visible to all.
4. Use your American common sense to determine the next steps.
We're never had more potential for good at our fingertips and it's past time we did
something about it! Read "The New Gold Rush; Mining Raw Human Potential
Using Free Web Tools." http://lone-eagles.com/mining.htm