Building Learning Communities through School,
Library, and Community Technology Centers.
To: Patrons of School, Library, and Community Technology Centers
From: Frank Odasz, Your Neighbor at Lone Eagle Consulting
One of the most exciting things about the Internet is that no one really knows how much impact one caring, creative person can have on large numbers of others. The Internet, as a minimal cost global self-publishing medium, allows one persons ideas, perspectives, and/or instructional materials the opportunity to potentially impact millions of people. Imagine if Mark Twain or Will Rogers were alive today, the online following their candor and ideas would attract!
The reality of what the Internet offers us is that we ALL can be both learners and teachers, all the time. The potential for helping others is unparalleled in human history. Theres a Chinese blessing that says "May you live in interesting times." We are most certainly blessed!
Encouraging others to be all they can be, is something we all can now do in a greater, more scaleable way, than ever before. One of the greatest needs in our fast changing world is the individual self-confidence to learn something new, which we can give to others through encouragement and guidance. We can help each other gain the perspective of what we really do need to know and how to find whatever we may need, when the occasion arises. Community is built when people give of themselves; their precious time and attention, to support others without thought of what they will receive in return. The satisfaction of making a difference in the lives of others is a sweet reward in itself.
One of the greatest gifts we can give to others is the knowledge of how to learn whatever one may need to know, and most particularly, how to "Learn-to-Earn." This is more about sustainability and survival than simply about making money. Its also the key to personal freedom. How can we all learn what we need to know, on an ongoing basis?
Will Rogers once said "Were all ignorant, only on different topics." Alone, we know only what weve learned ourselves, together, we all have potential access to all our joint knowledge. Amid the new billionaires of Silicon Valley is a ruthless competition where information is hoarded for competitive advantage. The future for human society based on this model is bleak, indeed! Which world would you like to contribute your energies to build? It should be possible to both help others, and earn a living.
In business, it is considered good strategy to locate in an environment that pushes you to stay current and close to your market. Folks everywhere, and at community technology centers (CTC's) in particular, are in a unique position to become experts on the most effective training strategies for their local communities. The opportunities the Internet presents for your communities are mostly invisible, until you, or someone like you, helps others see their own opportunities.
You're already an expert on what you like, and what you think is helpful to you! What YOU find on the Internet that you feel really helps YOU learn can be used by you as a model for creating YOUR OWN fun, social learning resources, for others like you. YOUR learning pathways or online step-by-step web tours, or learning experiences, can be created to share with those in your own community, or with the whole world, in either a profit model, or for the love of humanity.
As we all learn more about how to collaborate with those who care to build a better local community, and world community, the possibilities for joint action grow ever greater. What you learn about real online benefits for your local community, could be of serious benefit to communities worldwide. Expectations increase with experience, and the more you explore, the greater will be your vision for what both our local, and global, communities can achieve.
The business opportunities for distance learning are exploding, with many businesses suddenly interested in providing educational services. With this in mind, rather inspired by the energy of the people I met at the recent CTCnet conference ( http://www.ctcnet.org ), I'd like to share what I believe are a few very real possibilities.
1. Instructional Entrepreneurship:
If you don't have something to sell on auction sites like http://ebay.com, you can still use the Internet to create saleable value in the form of instructional opportunities. Since the educational market is changing rapidly, the fact that specific money-making opportunities are not present at this very moment, doesn't mean they won't be there, if you're ready for them. My suggestion would be to start learning about how others use the Internet to help people learn, and to make money, at the same time. New opportunities are being created daily.
Consider; Bill Gates, the richest man in the world, in his book "The Road Ahead" says there are three main areas people in which people will make the most money in the next 10-20 years; Entertainment, Social Services,and Education. The way I read this is online learning opportunities in a "Fun, Social, Learning" format will be right in line with the greatest emerging entrepreneurial opportunities.
Imagine a world where we all share what we love to learn about, and can rely on the support of others, when we have an information need. Imagine being able to support yourself by learning more and more about your greatest personal interests. It is through our individual and shared imaginations that we will find what we can actually accomplish, both as individuals and as communities!
As my part of "walking the talk," I've created a self-directed learning handbook, and a self-directed online course, which you're invited to use to learn without cost or obligation. Both are models of what I've just described as online learning opportunities. You might want to customize them to be more effective for those in your community. Im very interested in learning from you what works and what doesn't. Its great fun for me to know I can have a positive impact on people I've never met. I've been sharing my writings and learning materials online since 1988 and have earned many friends, as will you.
Key Resources at http://lone-eagles.com
The Self-Directed Learners Handbook: http://lone-eagles.com/guide.htm
The Online Course: "Making the Best Use of Internet for K12 Instruction"
2. Project-based Learning and Community Action Projects
In the above course, which was originally written for teachers, you'll learn about project-based learning, (PBL.) Simply put, a PBL activity is one that involves a group of people in learning about something specific by actually doing something; research, discussions, taking action, etc. The Internet has 10 dominant collaborative tools which you can use with any number of people, you're limited only by your imagination. (http://lone-eagles.com/collab.htm).
If you click through my Alaskan webtour of collaborative projects and K12 innovations at http://lone-eagles.com/alaskan.htm, and other web pages below, you'll find models where:
Students collaborate online to create instructional websites to help others learn using a free CDROM with typically little or no adult help: http://www.thinkquest.org
Students create community web pages celebrating local heros, organizations, through the Cyberfair competition. http://www.gsn.org/cf/index.html
Many new forms of mentoring are appearing on the Internet, many of which
are listed for your review at http://lone-eagles.com/mentor.htm
The highest level of benefit, both locally and globally, would be to create a true, educated democracy. Here is a web tour of emerging examples; http://lone-eagles.com/democracy.htm
Once you've seen what kids can do with Internet and computers, you'll understand that kids today, everywhere, are the technology leaders and key change agents in society. Youth and elders have the opportunity to work together to create models for human activity that can impact the lives of potentially millions of people, and it doesn't cost anything more than the time and caring.
OK, you DO need access to a computer and Internet to learn, and to create, and to self-publish worldwide, but through CTC's, libraries, schools, and homes, this is becoming more and more available. Less than $1/day is all it costs at http://www.gateway.com for a new multimedia computer and Internet access. If you want it, you can find a computer and access. The issue is not about technology, but about who has the vision for how computers, and Internet, can best be used by motivated people to help one another!
3. Building Learning Communities
The ability to coordinate online purposeful collaborative activities is the very definition of expertise, and eventual employability, in the information age. By experimenting, and learning from the examples of others via Internet, you can easily become an expert on;
How the best innovations and ideas from all the CTCs can effectively be shared
on an ongoing basis.
How you can help CTC clients new to the Internet most easily find a way to get
involved and be creative contributors to sharing resources with all the CTCs.
How you can help others save serious amounts of time by providing perspective
and step-by-step learning resources to connect them with the highest level of
benefits and skills in as straightforward a way as possible.
4. Starting Your Own Online Business.
The Internet represents unlimited opportunities for everyone with a vision. Since anyone can globally self-publish on a shoe-string budget, you can advertise on an equal basis with the worlds largest corporations, governments and universities. You can reach niche markets that would have been impossible for you to afford to reach, just five years ago. Consider your immediate opportunity as that of "learning-to-earn" by "watch-dogging" what seems to be working as business models that you could copy or customize.
To become an expert on such business models all you need is the commitment to invest your time. This process of monitoring whats working for people like you, is a very real opportunity, from which you will find your chance to create an independent business. Heres a listing of entrepreneurial resources to get you started; http://lone-eagles.com/entrelinks.htm
If you're interested in learning more about how to unlock your own great potential, you're invited to check out my articles, learning pathways and collections of the best-of-the-best learning resources from the Internet at http://lone-eagles.com. Perhaps we can work together to help others, and learn more about effective collaboration in the process?!
I just finished an article you might find of interest "Lone Eagles Learn to Teach from Any Beach" http://lone-eagles.com/articles/eagle.htm. One thing is indisputably true; you as an individual, regardless of your situation, have more potential for making things happen than those who lived at any other time in history. Your greatest opportunity is to begin now taking action to grow your vision, and making best use of what you have. Your greatest gift is who you are as an individual, able to make your own decisions on what you will do with your time and your life.