Chapter Three: Building Individual and Community Collaborative Capacity

"Life" is life’s own purpose, to grow, to aspire, to a greater level of organization and understanding, empirically the same for a blade of grass, or a human being.

Growing Capacity for New Ideas

When we’re born, the cells in our brains have weak interconnections, but as we’re stimulated through our senses by the world around us the interconnections between individual brain cells are strengthened and create meaning as we learn to interact with the world around us. As we grow and gain more experience, we become capable of greater and more complex ideas, and expand the variety of ways we can interact with the world around us.

As citizens within a community, we’re like cells in a brain; as we exercise our ability to interact, share information, and create new ideas with those around us, we become progressively more capable to create even greater ideas.

As we develop in the womb, we mirror the evolution of humankind and of intelligence. At one point, a developing human baby has gills and a primitive brainstem as our distant ancestors did, the last part of the brain to develop is the cerebrum, representing the latest evolutionary addition to our evolving intelligence. Both as individuals, and as a species, we’re growing toward greater levels of organization all the time.

Growing Individual and Community Collaborative Capacity

Assessing one’s own individual collaborative capacity, outside the use of technology, might include a review of one’s ability to create positive interactions with others, the ability to teach and motivate others, and the ability to coordinate purposeful action-oriented activities. Just how we might use the Internet to expand and empower our abilities to help, and work with others, is a combination of availability of the tools, the knowledge of how to apply them effectively, and an understanding of how to motivate others.

Using Internet search engines and existing self-directed Internet learning resources can allow an individual to learn anything, at anytime. This capability has never existed before.

A community’s collaborative capacity might be measured by the collective understanding of the processes by which members can work together effectively. A commonality of language, understanding, goals, and appropriate methods would all be factors to consider. If a community shares a clear understanding of what needs to happen, and exactly how to go about making it happen, the hardest part is over and everyone can get to work. An ideal situation would be for a community to learn together the most effective collaborative uses of the Internet collaborative tools and to put them to use without delay. Such is our joint challenge!

Today, many communities consist of members who have moved in from diverse cultures, and locations, creating the need to establish a common ground of understanding before members can work together effectively to achieve common goals. New skills must be learned to create the social info-structure with the intelligence to make good things happen on behalf of the community.

We’re all kindergartners in the information age.

Youth today represent the first generation to grow up with computers. As presented in detail in the Culture Club concept paper, youth are the key change agents and technology leaders in most homes, communities and cultures, worldwide. "Culture Club" is a concept paper which articulates a methodology of involving youth, and community members of all ages, in creating mentoring opportunities and instructional resources tailored for local citizens.

Many youth today seem to have an innate interest in learning computer and Internet skills, while many adults seem to be extremely intimidated by learning anything new about computers and Internet. Youth often have an attitude of ‘play’ when dealing with computers and Internet and love to explore and see what they can learn to make happen.

Most adults need to learn two important things. One, is how to use "play" to become comfortable with learning new computer and Internet skills. The second is to understand that everyone doesn’t have to know everything about computers and Internet, but rather has to develop an overview understanding of what computers and Internet have to offer, from which they can select only those skills from which they will benefit directly.

The reality is that youth often have the time available, which most adults don’t have. Communities are finding that youth have important roles to play in exploring new benefits computers and Internet can bring to communities. It has become common for youth to be able to earn good money creating web pages for local businesses. Communities need to learn how to leverage youth as a local resource for local training, exploration of emerging benefits of Internet, and much more. (More on this important theme in Chapter 7.)

Will Rogers once said "We’re all ignorant, only on different topics."

The more we can share what we know, the more we’ll all have access to all our joint knowledge. Otherwise, we’re limiting ourselves to only that which we’ve learned directly.

Building Learning Communities; A Major New Challenge!

As we begin the new millennium we’re all challenged with how to build ‘learning’ communities for our mutual survival in the face of accelerating change driven by new technologies and shifting economic patterns. New tools, and new ways of reaching out to support others, will become a part of our lives. We’re challenged with keeping the best of our traditional communities, and leveraging the best of the new social possibilities that technology has made available.

Winston Churchill once said "We’re always ready to learn, never to be taught."

Most of us do enjoy learning new things, but really don’t like to be taught. Our greatest challenge is how to bring everyone along on this necessary, new, learning adventure with the least amount of stress and wasted effort, possible!

Creating Local Mentors through Social Recognition

Mentoring others via Internet is something that is very new. At you’ll find many mentoring projects, models and resources. In particular, is the ASK A+ locator You’ll see a listing of topics on which people have volunteered to respond to questions via email. You’ll see everything from ‘Ask an Amish’ to ‘Ask a Vulcanologist.’ Consider the value, and social motivation, that would result from creating a similar listing of expertise from within your own community. Such a listing would encourage citizens to develop their personal interests on behalf of serving others.

Growing Social Motivation from Within Digital Divide Communities

What will citizens need to understand if they are to be motivated to empower themselves when provided Internet access and basic training? Please consider the rest of this chapter as a suggested set of ideas you might consider sharing with your local community.

Responsibility Comes with Power

Once you receive the opportunity for regular, convenient hands-on access to a computer with Internet capabilities, you will become one of the first in the world, and among the first in human history, to hold this great power.

Consider, not so much for your own benefit, but for those whom you hold the potential for changing their lives for the better, to carefully consider how you will spend your time, given the immense opportunity you’ve been given.

If you were handed the power to be able to learn anything, at any time, and to share your thoughts and teachings worldwide, would you welcome the responsibility that would come with this great power? Would you feel confident in your abilities to meet this challenge, alone?

There are huge needs in the world, but too few caring people that hold the power to touch lives worldwide by online mentoring, teaching and encouragement. We’re all looking for those who can help us become all we can be! Ideally, we’ll learn to "do for ourselves, together!"

Remedy for Depression

For those suffering hard times, there is no better remedy for depression than by helping others, particularly those worse off than yourself. There are indeed many who would gratefully welcome your help! The personal satisfaction you can enjoy from fulfilling your potential to lend a hand to others, will be priceless.

Many of us suffer from the historical worldview of being powerless, because we have been, until now, suddenly, at our fingertips, we find an open door.

While those around us may be slow to understand just what this open door represents, you as an individual, are limited only by your own imagination.

If you’re willing, through your reading what’s written here, you can prove to yourself that you do indeed have the power to impact the lives of others far beyond anything you’ve ever imagined.

You’re invited to read the following article, and to explore the resources offered to you, which will allow you access to unlimited genuine opportunities and satisfaction.

Building Learning Communities through School,
Library, and Community, Technology Centers

We all can be both learners and teachers, all the time.

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 person’s 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. There’s 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. It’s also the key to personal freedom. How can we all learn what we need to know, on an ongoing basis?

Will Rogers once said "We’re all ignorant, only on different topics." Alone, we know only what we’ve 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 ( ), 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, 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. 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. I’m 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 from

The Cross-cultural Self-Directed Learner’s Internet Guide:

The Online Course: "Making the Best Use of Internet for K12

2. Project-based Learning and Community Action Projects

In the above course, which was originally written for Native Alaskan 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. (

If you click through my Alaskan webtour of collaborative projects and K12 innovations at, 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:

Students create community web pages celebrating local heros, organizations, through the Cyberfair competition.

Many new forms of mentoring are appearing on the Internet, many of which are listed for your review at

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;

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 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 CTC’s 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 CTC’s.

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

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 world’s 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 what’s working for people like you, is a very real opportunity, from which you will find your chance to create an independent business. Here’s a listing of entrepreneurial resources to get you started; Free services for creating online businesses are available:

You might find of interest "Lone Eagles Learn to Teach from Any Beach" 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.

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 Perhaps we can work together to help others, and learn more about effective collaboration in the process?!

Using the Ten Internet Collaborative Tools
This short article briefly describes each of the ten top Internet collaborative tools and includes sample web sites and tutorials for each tool. At issue, is how can people learn to use these real tools to support one another is ways beyond what’s possible without the Internet. Published Jan. 2000 in Leading and Learning with Technology Magazine ( )

Lone Eagles Learn to "Teach From Any Beach"
Published in the Technology Horizons in Education Journal, Nov. 1999

Culture Club: A Cultural and Community Survival Concept Paper
A Youth-Based Community and Cultural Survival Strategy