Internet Awareness-raising Action Initiatives
                       for Clyde, Kansas, and other Rural Communities
                              By Frank Odasz

January 14-17, 2001, the Lone Eagle flew into Clyde, Kansas, Pop. 800 for two days of Internet presentations for the Junior High School faculty, High School faculty and students, local senior center, local library and keynoting the Chamber banquet. The story begins with a short article "The New Gold Rush - Are You Ready?"   Here's a few ideas and resources to get you thinking:

Keynote Powerpoint Presentation: "The Future of Community Development; Making the Living You Want, Living Wherever You Want"
Rural Development Web Tour
Rural Development powerpoint presentation
K-12 Web Tour
K-12 powerpoint presentation

Rural communities are wondering what could we be doing, what should we be doing, to
prepare our community to take advantage of the opportunities the Internet offers us?

1. Hold a Press Release Competition: Articulate a shared vision, and perhaps some tangible short-term goals.   Hold a competition for the best Press Release on what your community could, or will, accomplish in the next 6-12 months. (At minimal cost, though the sheer will of being determined to make something good happen.)

2. Begin Holding Regular Community Technology Nights
Initiate Youth-driven digital storytelling presentations. Begin regularly scheduled community technology nights to raise awareness and provide a showcase for local innovations and to connect those who need tech-training help with those who can provide it. (Youth and elders, particularly!)

Citizens need frequent informal opportunities to see how other citizens like them are benefiting from Internet innovations. Regular (weekly or bi-monthly) entertainment-style 1-2 hour presentations emphasizing visual web pages, digital art, digital photography, and digital music, presented by locals, particularly youth, would provide the means for generating initial awareness leading toward motivation to learn more. The social recognition for local innovators would be self-reinforcing. A sustainable local community-driven awareness program would result, supported with local and global web-based resources.

3. Create a Community Web Content Competition     with prizes for the best instructional site, best local resource, best collection of resources from other communities and sources, best Ecommerce site, and/or the most entertaining site. Or, hold a competition for the best (fun, or most rewarding) hands-on 15 minute web tour; a self-directed learning experience using only text and web addresses.

4. Hold a Community Web-raising;   similar to barn-raisings, bring your web-literate youth and citizens together with those who need help creating their first web pages. A community Web-Mall could be created in a day, hosting both business sites and citizen mentoring/topical resource web sites.

5. Hold a Teleliteracy drive - Similar to United Way’s ‘thermometer’ fundraising drive. Become the first community to achieve 100% (or a higher percentage of) teleliteracy as measured by:

1. The number of citizens who have sent and email and have
    browsed the web, and/or
2. use email regularly, and offer their expertise via email
    mentoring to the community and/or
3. the number of local citizens who maintain a topical resources
    page and offer online mentoring as a way to contribute to the
    communities’ learning goals.

6. Create a Community Mentoring Program    using the following three short online courses as a train-the-trainers program. Reward with social recognition those with the most mentees that successfully complete the courses.

Three Easy Online Mini-Courses for Internet Beginners

Each of the following free online short courses for citizens could be offered as part of a community teleliteracy program with a certificate of completion and/or an embroidered patch awarded to those who complete the lessons. Citizens could mentor citizens with prizes for those who help the most citizens attain success by completing the lessons. Each of the following mini-courses require only four hours to complete and can be modified as necessary. Determine what your citizens need to know, and create opportunities for them to learn these skills online, either on their own, or with peer mentors.

Mini-course 1:  Internet Self-empowerment - Becoming a Self-directed Learner
Successive hands-on experiences are simply presented to quickly 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 Internet Mentorship
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 Beginners
Successive hands-on experiences are simply presented to quickly build skills and concepts using free Ecommerce tools, services, and resources, with emphasis on identification of existing successful models that are the most easily replicated, such as Ebay auctions.