The 7GC initiative begins by bringing
together a mainstream university known for a decade of rural connectivity
innovations; Western Montana College of The University of Montana, and
one of the most
progressive tribal colleges in the country; Salish Kootenai College.
Seven main projects will be conducted
simultaneously to create economies of scale and high visibility as a sophisticated
collaborativemodel. This partnership will grow quickly by inviting additional
wish to participate in this collaborative effort to jointly learn about theneeds for diversity of the telecommunications 'innovations diffusion' process necessary to be successful in their culture and across cultures.
A minigrants program and clearinghouse of existing projects will assurethis initiative builds on existing projects, resources and expertise and avoids duplication.
Five million dollars, over five years,
will be required for this project to be successful.
The Congressional Office of Technology (OTA) report, "Making Government Work; Electronic Delivery of Federal Services" correctly states "The diversity of applications required for a successful National Information Infrastructure can only come from the citizens themselves."
This is doubly true regarding Native
American applications, due to cultural and economic issues, and is the
core goal of this project. The need is to discover which instructional
and process elements translate well across cultures, and which do not.
This focus relates directly to the challenges faced by rural communities,
nationally and internationally.
This OTA report specifically suggests federal minigrant set-asides to generate innovative applications of networking; hence this initiative hosts a minigrants model inspired by this report. Canada has adopted this model and is supporting 1,500 minigrants for rural communities.
The nation's 540+ tribes need a culturally relevant way to understand what it will take to realize the benefits of Internet access, noting that basic access is initially the key issue for most tribes. Process elements incorporating 'Active Learning Theory' and the 'Experiential Learning Cycle' must be tested to create a 'Teaching and Learning Model' approach which can be properly adapted for indigenous people, globally.
The Internet's multimedia teaching
and learning potential for Native Americans can mean;
1. Self-directed lifelong learning
2. Enhanced access to extended family members and those
within the local community, including peer mentoring in a social familial model.
3. Self-publishing globally for cultural expression and entrepreneurship,
specifically through teaching these skills to other indigenous peoples.
4. Enhanced participation in the democratic process, and self-determination
in a rapidly changing, increasingly technological world.
The Seventh Generation Community Initiative must be a long term project, and large enough in scale to warrant national attention in order to attract significant partners from all sectors. This grand alliance will include the following seven integrated projects, designed to produce results, particularly anecdotal evidences of success, both in the short term and on an ongoing basis.
A authentic assessment model (collaborative
constructivism) will be created through which Native Americans will themselves
evaluate the potential of Internet multimedia tools for instruction and
community-building with the intent to teach other Native Americans what
they've found most effective;
explicitly exploring the entrepreneurial potential of offering similar instructional services to indigenous peoples worldwide.
The 7GC will create the capability to demonstrate how the Native American concept of extended family can join with the collaborative potential of the Internet to meet their shared needs by creating a peer "open learning community" with an intergenerational emphasis lead by K-16 youth.
Conducting multiple projects at once
will create economies of scale, and will allow for participation of multiple
tribes simultaneously demonstrating diverse applications of online training,
coordination, and innovation. The high visibility of this initiative will
be sustained as a key component required for success.
THE SEVEN PROJECTS WILL BE:
1. CLEARINGHOUSE FOR ONGOING AUTHENTIC ASSESSMENT AND DISSEMINATION
of the culturally appropriate benefits of existing and emerging collaborative tools gained through direct experience themselves or by other Native Americans.
Storytelling via multiple mediums will be ongoing, with emphasis on video, as the means of choice for helping non-technical tribal leaders conceptualize the potential for their own tribes. A series of CDROM's will be created for instructional purposes, particularly for those without Internet access. These CDROM's will include the main contents of the clearinghouse, with emphasis on clarification of the options for Internet access for those not yet connected.
Through authentic peer assessment of the collaborative and educational potential of Internet multimedia technologies, a clearinghouse of best practices will result as a service to all tribes, nationally. This clearinghouse will assure that the 7GC builds on existing resources, projects, and expertise to avoid duplication.
2. A COMMON MEETING PLACE ON THE INTERNET WILL BE CREATED
to provide direct experience as to how other Native Americans are effectively using collaborative Internet tools and realizing the empowering capabilities of online learning communities.
This state-of-the-art Internet Community
Network will be created with direct technical support from multiple technology
partners to allow tribal members to preview the best collaborative tools
available and directly implement community innovations of their own through
a centralized "Explorations Incubator" mini-grants program.
THE MINI-GRANTS COMMUNITY NETWORK INCUBATOR PROGRAM will offer tribes the opportunity to initiate their own explorative innovations using software available on the central system. Grant-writing and policy awareness assistance is fundamental and must be readily available because expertise is not uniformly available for all tribes. Physical relocation locally of these new community networks will be an option if the additional costs can be met.
3. TEACHER TRAINING IN INSTRUCTIONAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS
WMC/UM and SKC have already agreed to work together to bring an elementary education teacher-training program to SKC, where students representing 23 tribes are enrolled. A model program to create more Native American teachers will be created with emphasis on teaching the best teaching and learning technologies available. Due to the accelerating rate of software and hardware product cycles, tomorrow's technology must be taught today if teachers are to have the necessary skills once they graduate.
TEACHER INSERVICE TO DISPEL STEREOTYPES
Cultural and historical Internet multimedia courses for recertification credit will be created by Native Americans as a means of educating non-indian teachers how they can avoid perpetuating racial stereotypes. Courses on Native American language utilizing the Internet's ability to deliver audio via web pages will be created. These courses will begin an entrepreneurial model of offering authentic histories and authentic cultural learning globally.
4. SCHOOL AND COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS;
EVERYONE BOTH LEARNER AND TEACHER
will provide an ongoing intergenerational online support model, in an informal 'train the trainers' format, to help meet the need for local face-to-face assistance by individuals able to socially encourage the exploration process and personally train tribal members in a culturally relevant manner. It must be acknowledged that Native American youth are often the most effective societal change agents regarding use of the Internet.
THIS INTERGENERATIONAL MENTORING COMMUNITY OF EXPERTISE AND SUPPORT for Native American teaching and learning will emphasize expanding the number of Native Americans able to teach via the Internet. Internet Multimedia course creation skills will be taught while exploring the potential for international entrepreneurial delivery via Internet.
Courses on use of technology for self-empowerment, self-directed lifelong learning, community building, and electronic democracy will be created and offered internationally to other indigenous groups.
5. SCHOOL AND COMMUNITY PROBLEM-SOLVING
K12 students will evaluate multiple collaborative technologies, in partnership with their communities, to validate their potential benefits for community problem-solving, access to extended family, and mentoring effectiveness via remote educational support in partnership with ATT Research and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. A problem-solving methodology based on a successful three year pilot project recently conducted with three tribes will be adapted to include communications technologies.
6. INSTRUCTIONAL ENTREPRENEURISM AND ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION
A Professional Guide Institute is already under development at WMC/UM to increase the quality of wilderness outfitter programs and environmental practices. Ecotourism, and similar educational experiences, combined with traditional outfitting, hold great promise in the world's number one growth industry; tourism. K12 youth will be involved with environmental monitoring using current technologies through existing K12 math and science curriculum programs, recognizing their historical role as stewards of these natural resources. Cultural and historical online courses will be created as a core activity of this program.
7. WIRELESS MOBILE CLASSROOMS
Mobile wireless classrooms, using laptops, have already been successfully demonstrated in Montana as a portable training computer lab. This mobile classroom would provide on-site training along with awareness presentations sharing how other tribes are benefiting from innovative uses of collaborative technologies.
Loaner laptops will be needed to link selected resource persons and mentors where connectivity and equipment is not yet available.
The need exists to thoroughly address
the inherent benefits wireless technologies offers to remote tribes. Successful,
replicable wireless models need to be thoroughly explored and the results
widely disseminated through on-site demonstrations. Ex. Galena, Alaska,
is the first remote Alaskan village to receive two-way Internet via satellite,
but wireless technologies are necessary to bring Internet into their homes.
Within ten years, inexpensive laptops
and emerging satellite technologies will allow high-speed two-way Internet
connectivity from any point on the globe. More specifically, 15,000 cultures
will soon have the potential for access. Who and what they will find waiting
for them is the purpose of this timely, necessary, doable, Seventh Generation
Western Montana College of the University
of Montana (WMC/UM) and the Salish Kootenai Tribal College (SKC) have the
breadth of quality partners, and the cultural expertise, to be successful
in realizing the full potential of the Seventh Generation Community Initiative;
on a sustainable basis.
This project represents the cumulative expertise and vision of ten years of innovations by the Big Sky Telegraph (BST) network, cited for excellence by four Congressional OTA reports and the White House. The full range of contacts from the BST project will be leveraged in support of this timely project.
ATT Research is already working with Western Montana College and is planning to involve the Salish Kootenai College in a project exploring the use of object-oriented collaborative environments to create sustained community interaction.
The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) is planning to work with Western Montana College and the Salish Kootenai College to research use of visual collaborative environments for K-100 education and community building.
USAID and UNESCO have expressed specific interest in this project in regards to their multiple initiatives for international educational and community networking with indigenous peoples. The potential exists for Native Americans to deliver online instruction to indigenous peoples as an instructional entrepreneurial activity.
Dr. Janet Poley, president of A*DEC, (Agricultural Distance Education Consortium), with experience working in 25 countries, will serve as a key advisor.
The emerging Association for Community
Networking will provide consulting and organizational support for the incubator