The Power of Building Learning Communities
Through Internet Collaboration, Mentoring and Teaching
CONTEXT: Communities can be defined as those to which we give our time and talent. Communities are the sum of what we give to each other. There are givers and takers in all communities. Givers are those who give their precious time to build community and supportive relationships as a direct result of their actions. In sharp contrast, takers are those who contribute little or nothing, but often complain about the loss of the sense of community.
"Communities of interest" can use the Internet to work closely together regardless of where the members live. The Internet brings new, convenient ways to contribute to others through mentoring, sharing, and teaching, all from the social safety of ones own home. There is no upward limit to how much help you can provide to others.
By posting resources to save others the time finding them, and posting self-directed learning opportunities to guide others to new skills and resources, potentially great numbers of people can benefit, all thanks to you.
There are over ten different collaborative tools on the Internet, with more being invented all the time. We are all challenged with learning how to make the best use of these collaborative tools to building learning communities.
Project-based learning (PBL) is an instructional model that relates directly to the use of collaborative tools for real-world problem-solving. A key trend in K-12 education is collaborative learning with a real-world problem-solving emphasis related to issues facing the local community.
Success in the information age will depend on a individual's character, values, and ability to work with others both face-to-face, and when necessary, using collaborative Internet tools.
The work model of the future is individuals working as "Lone Eagles" along with others on multiple short-term projects requiring highly developed group-work skills. Knowledge of which collaborative tools are best used for specific purposes is vitally important and can best be learned through direct hands-on experience. We all need to learn how to plan, implement, and evaluate projects that involve others and that depend upon the manipulation of digital information. We need to learn how best to solve real world problems using the best tools at our fingertips.
Quickstart Awareness Activities
ACTIVITY: Read the following essay on building individual and community
ACTIVITY: Get connected with your peers; Join a Listserv;
explore the discussion groups at: http://www.liszt.com
Note: There are quality, easy-to-read, instructions at this site
for those new to listservs, (also called mailing lists.)
ACTIVITY: Check out the following project-based learning
which include guides for project-based learning activities and
planning and implementing web projects! Review the
Project-based Learning Resources
ACTIVITY: Explore the K-12 project directories and
http://lone-eagles.com/projects_tour.htm to appreciate the quality
and diversity of "ready-to-go" collaborative activities!
ACTIVITY: Go to the Global Schoolhouse - http://www.gsh.org
Select Professional Development, then select and read
"Harnessing the Power of the Web."
ACTIVITY: Explore the following cultural resources and
and the online course resources, in consideration of what you
might teach online! http://lone-eagles.com/multicultural.htm