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 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. As we today 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 a lie. 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 scams reselling the false promises of easy money, along 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 vision that the Internet is a self-empowerment and self-publishing medium which allows citizens to become proactive producers able to have a profound impact on the world. Is this a war against promoting ignorance?
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.
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, as 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 as to the positive impacts the Internet offers them the ability to create. If there was a clear vision for how Americans could 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 most 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.
Don't use the missing models and stories of innovative use of the Internet as an excuse for inaction, create your own models of success and stories of innovation.
We're never had more potential for good at our fingertips and its past time we did something about it!
"The New Gold Rush; Mining Raw Human Potential Using Free Web Tools."
There are extensive unique resources offered in a short listing at the end of the article.
Course Description for
"Citizenship, Community-building, and Entrepreneurship in the Knowledge Age."
This three credit course for educators presents a hands-on review of Internet resources and curriculum templates integrating K12 curriculum with online collaboration and skills related to growing successful citizens in the "knowledge age." Emphasis is on developing both local, and global, citizenship concepts, skills and practices; learning to create both social and economic value in the knowledge age.
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 along with essential knowledge worker skills such as self-directed Internet learning, and online collaboration, in the context of responsible citizenship, both locally and globally.
Success as knowledge workers in a global knowledge economy requires a K12 emphasis on developing the social value of students as human capital and requires they become skilled at creating and maintaining meaningful relationships both offline and online.
Within the context of learning to create both social and economic value, 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. Math and economics components can be easily added.
Online mini-modules designed for teachers to use with their students would provide students with their first, brief, online learning experiences. Students would then create similar brief mini-modules 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 would learn first hand how online collaboration can benefit their communities, while developing their knowledge worker skills in online groupwork. The theme here is "Everyone both learner and teacher, both consumer and producer, all the time."
Sample mini-modules and related resources for "Building Learning Communities" are at http://lone-eagles.com/teled.htm
Here's further justification for a three credit course for educators integrating K12 citizenship education with Ecommerce.
There is an immediate need to bridge the gap between K12 education and the ability to use the Internet for economic development. The accelerating pace of change requires students learn how to think innovatively and to maintain awareness of successful innovations related to emerging vocational and entrepreneurial opportunities in their communities. 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 would help students become involved with their communities' economic development and sustainability issues.
Many realistic student-driven community activities would be presented 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, as detailed in the Bootstrap Academy http://lone-eagles.com/academy.htm
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
There are many models of project-based learning and student creation of web-based content to benefit the local community which could be consolidated into a 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 and students will also learn to use templates to create instructional experiences for both other students and adults in the local community. Details on request, and also at http://lone-eagles.com/capacity.htm
Project-based learning project directories and resources
To name a few examples:
The Cyberfair competition, http://www.gsh.org , has elementary students create web pages celebrating eight categories of local achievement.
At Thinkquest, http://www.thinkquest.org , students internationally have created over 4,500 instructional web sites to help others learn online.
At the Global Schoolhouse, http://www.gsh.org , is a Projects Directory where teachers can post multi-classroom collaborative projects to find partners, internationally.
At Webquest sites, (see http://lone-eagles.com/capacity.htm )curriculum templates are available for both teachers and students to learn 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
An Adult Internet Self-empowerment Alternative Certification Program
A separate, but perhaps essentially related proposal is for the creation of an adult Internet Self-empowerment Alternative Certification Program, potentially mentored by K12 students.
The question stands - "How many hours must a person sit at a computer with Internet access before measurable empowerment can be realized?" And just what is it that can be learned that will make a difference in a person's life???
Strategy - Create a short, first online learning experience to build self-confidence for online learning by clarifying an easy, motivating, online empowerment course format, with both a vision, and clearly achievable goals, laid out in a step-by-step manner.
Self-directed Learning Skills
1. Present an overview of what's possible to learn
2. Conceptualize "its easy once you know how" through hands-on demonstrations of successful online learning
Social Value Creation Skills
3. Demonstrate "its easier collaborating with others, but you have to give as well as get"
4. Demonstrate we're stronger when we work together and share information.
5. Require each adult learner to become an online mentor, hosting a topical resource page with quality links they have gathered, thereby creating 'knowledge value."
Economic Value Creation Concepts and Skills
6. Teach entry level Ecommerce concepts, starting with Ebay and Free Ecommerce page sites and identification of the best, easy, Ecommerce start-up training resources on the Internet. http://lone-eagles.com/entrelinks.htm
NOTE: In 1993, I was funded to co-create a course titled "Mentoring Online" which includes an emphasis on considerations for adult online education.
Students, as well as adults, need to understand the unique features of the Internet for creation of both social and economic value.
Self-directed Internet learning skills have become essential, as have the strategies by which one stays current in a world of accelerating change. Fighting information overload increasingly depends on online collaboration skills for sharing knowledge.
The sustainability of our communities and society depend 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.
Now that the conceptual framework has been laid for the teacher education and youth leadership components, here's a short description of a short term demonstration pilot project....
Community Internet Self-empowerment Demonstration Project Models
As more and more communities are investing in Internet at higher and higher speeds, there are emerging some clarifications regarding identification of 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, at whatever speed is considered to be transformational, inspired and motivated citizens will immediately see what's possible and become self-directed lifelong learners, proactive entrepreneurs, and innovative skilled collaborators 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 very real potential, 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
Needed are demonstration projects 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 levels. If such model communities don't exist, we need to create demonstration models where the resultant storytelling can inspire others as to what can be done with a vision, and a real plan, for the mobilization of a 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.
Proposed is a 3 month project, initiated by educators through their participation in an online course suitable for recertification, to 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. In the short term, widespread community awareness of the following benefits would result:
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..
Appreciation for the role Internet can play linking citizens with each other through creation of mentoring and knowledge sharing opportunities, both online and offline.
Appreciation for the community benefits realized by everyone working together toward the common goal of defining how the Internet can help empower the local community.
Three half-day events lead by K12 students will provide the community with a self-assessment metric for their level of Internet empowerment, designed to help the community identify its own next step opportunities.
The specific methodology would be:
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.