An Alaskan Native Model Village Pilot Project
Written by Frank Odasz for the Yukon Koyukuk School District
This unique model village project will produce measurable outcomes and clear demonstration of the benefits of local use of Internet for community learning and online access to personal and family health information, online library services, self-directed learning opportunities, and rural Ecommerce education.
Though the theme of this project is community learning, of necessity K-12 educators and students will provide leadership and mentoring services. Funding from other sources will provide one week of on-site Internet training for local educators in each of three YKSD villages during both September 2002 and January 2003. Additional funding is needed for the equipment necessary to extend this training to the community in a cultural context to help citizens become aware of their opportunities for Ecommerce.
Demonstrations of how wireless equipment can bring the Internet to village homes via the school satellite connection will be included as is now possible due to the recent E-rate FCC Waiver.
The need exists to create model village projects to inspire the 192 Alaskan Native Villages regarding best uses of Internet. Past under-utilized Internet has clearly shown the need for more targeted training focused on measurable outcomes.
Alaskan villages have a suicide rate four times higher than the national average. The immediate need exists to engage youth and citizens in programs which will instill hope and faith that economic and social solutions do indeed exist. Online mentoring will prove to be an effective means of providing both ongoing encouragement as well as serious skills training in a culturally appropriate context.
Appropriate software needs to be modeled which brings the highest levels of benefit requiring the least amount of training and prerequisite expertise. New online mentoring software can provide a failsafe distance learning system for providing both technical maintenance assistance as well as skills training. The mentor can literally take control of the mentee's computer to demonstrate tasks communicating with two-way voice-over-Internet, and can then monitor directly the mentee's computer via Internet as they replicate the tasks.
Preparing for rapid scalability and dissemination of this model will be the emphasis of this unique short-term pilot project. This series of short-term pilot projects will provide important proof of concept data for large-scale expansion by multiple major community health and library projects now being planned. The first phase of this project will be completed in time for a presentation at the October 2002 Information Technology for Native Alaskan Villages conference and the November 2002 Alaskan Economic Development Conference.
Recommended Implementation Model:
Three educators in each of three villages will receive for one year a laptop and wireless connection to their homes linking to the school-based satellite system. Each educator will have the option to keep the laptop in return for 100 hours of community mentoring sharing skills and showcasing the convenience and benefits of these connections. Teachers will host a web site gathering Athabascan links as well as original local cultural web pages.
With online instructional support, each educator will direct student teams to engage elders in creating culturally appropriate web pages to celebrate and to share knowledge via Internet on the local culture and history using multiple forms of digital storytelling. Youth will post local crafts on Ebay and demonstrate other Ecommerce web-marketing options.
Each village will establish teams to learn and teach others regarding:
1. Use of a Sony Mavica CD-1000 digital camera for digital storytelling and online
Ecommerce marketing of local crafts and products.
2. Use of a digital art tablet to create original artwork, including digital photo
3. Use of digital video cameras and Imovie software to provide for creating local
digital movies which can be shared on the web.
4. Use of a microphone and computer for recording and self-publishing oral
histories on CDROM and the Internet.
5. Use of a MIDI musical keyboard and appropriate software for recording both
traditional and contemporary music on the Internet and on CDROM.
Additional community participation events and activities will be generated based on local needs, interest, and resources, such as those listed at http://lone-eagles.com/academy.htm See also http://lone-eagles.com/montpelier.htm
Web-publishing software will be installed at the villages to allow creation of quality web sites without extensive technical training.
Those villages demonstrating the greatest levels of interest and community participation will qualify for additional equipment and training. Monthly progress and innovation reports will be shared among all participants. Records will be kept for those actively imparting new skills to others. Additional equipment awards are planned for those who impart the most skills to the most learners during the project.
Demonstration Ecommerce businesses will be created. Free posting of all crafts and local products on the Internet will be demonstrated by a youth-entrepreneurship component where commissions for sales will go toward additional equipment to be used for local Ecommerce initiatives.
I. Minimum Equipment Budget
3 Wacom Digital Art tablets and Painter 6 software 3x$500= $1500
3 Sony CD-1000 digital cameras and software 3x$900= $2700
3 MIDI keyboards, software, microphones, headphones 3x$500= $1500
3 Digital video cameras and Imovie software 3x$900= $2700
3 units Web-publishing and CDROM authoring software 3x$1200= $3600
3 sets of three laptops @ $2000 each 9X$2000 $18,000
3 sets of Wireless distribution hubs and 3 receivers 3x$5000 = $15,000
3 sets of multimedia projectors with audio speakers 3x$3300 = $9,900
3 CDROM -Write Drives 3x$200 $600
Total for minimal equipment component: $55,500
II.Tamsco Superior Internet Satellite and Community Wireless
During Sept. 2002, Tamsco will install a superior Internet satellite system in either Minto, Koyukuk, or Allakaket to create a single exemplary working model for a wide range of very specific benefits from wireless Internet distributed to village homes and health and library community centers.
Current procedural regulations concerning After School Internet Service Providers (AS/ISPs) under the FCC Erate Waiver are politically laden with barriers which will be bypassed through this one year demonstration project which will dramatically demonstrate multiple benefits of the newest satellite and wireless technologies. A working model of the full range of potential benefits will have profound impact on numerous emerging major Alaskan village connectivity projects.
Demonstrating a sustainable model in the short term will have immediate relevance for all Erate-funded systems and Ecommerce applications. Many serious advantages over current installed systems will be demonstrated in addition to superior bandwidth at a considerably lower cost.
Superior Features to Be Demonstrated:
1. A superior technical model to provide IP for Erate funded systems AND
streamline the political/procedural process for wireless IP for everyone at lower
2. Remote mentoring software for better fail-safe distance learning
3. More sophisticated remote technical maintenance, technical monitoring. and
related technical support training, plus a more responsive help desk
4. More sophisticated porn filtering and control
5. Demonstrate high-speed local networking via a "Village Area Network" with
11mb for local multimedia sharing
6. Demonstrate Internet telephone installation and cost savings
7. Additional multiple advanced features will be included such as local content
caching with remote updating from the Alaska State Library, Lone Eagle
Consulting, and other robust content providers.
Timeframe: One Year Demonstration Project
Budget per Village Site:
One time costs:
Installation of Internet satellite system with
300kb down and 128kb uplink speeds. $19,000
Wireless hookups for teachers' homes and/or
community centers @ $1000 per location times
three locations per village equals $3,000
Monthy costs of $1900/month times 12 months equals $22,800
Total for equipment component II. $44,800
Sustainability would best be achieved by vending Internet service to Erate-funded local schools and providing restrictionless wireless Internet services to village homes in conjunction with online training and providing robust local content accessible at very high speeds via the Village Area Network. (11 mb)III. Learning Laptops for Home Self-Directed Learning
Engaging the community will require the mobility of laptop computers, ideally with wireless connections brought into the homes by students. While some villages have an adequate number of computers most are in desperate need of updated computers in order to benefit from Internet access. Youth have far greater propensity with learning about computers and will serve as community trainers in return for use of multi-media digital storytelling equipment.
While the recommended pilot community of Koyukuk has an adequate number of computers, Minto does not. Other villages of the YKSD would like to participate but do not have the necessary computers and their computer needs are listed below. Sister community projects will connect those villages who have received extensive on-site training with those who did not. While educators from all villages will be invited to the three weeklong intensive workshop, this sister community component will determine how neighboring computers can best share their knowledge to keep costs to a minimum.
Number of mac Powerbooks needed:
Nulato - 40
Total 155 Mac Powerbook laptops @ $1800 each = $279,000
Total Equipment Funding Request=
Minimal Equipment Request $55,500
Superior Satellite and Wireless Demonstration system $44,800
Learning Laptops for Home Learning $232,000
Matching Funding for Salaries for the following staff have already been provided from other funding sources.
Project Director: Todd Poage, is the acting superintendent of YKSD in charge of technology. Todd served as principal of Minto for many years providing leadership for many technology innovations.
Lead Trainer: Frank Odasz, president of Lone Eagle Consulting, will be the lead trainer for this project and has a long history of training educators in rural, remote, and indigenous communities. Resume: http://lone-eagles.com/articles/frank.htm
Technology Coordinator: Joseph Marley is the principal of Koyukuk and serves as the half-time technology coordinator for YKSD based on this technology innovations and demonstrated proficiency of the past several years.
Online Training Courses:
"Making the Best Use of Internet for K-12 Instruction" has been taught via the Alaska Staff Development Network and Alaska Pacific University for three graduate credits to Alaskans successfully for the last four years. Online lessons and web-based curriculum created by those in the class are online at http://lone-eagles.com/teachercreated.htm
NOTE: The online Ecommerce course referenced below will be available for non-credit Ecommerce training and creating a local and regional train-the-trainers program.
Rural Ecommerce and Telework Strategies Curriculum
A multi-level Train-the-Trainers Local and Regional Solution. Discussions are underway to offer this new online course through the UAF Center for Distance Education which is now under the leadership of Curt Madison.
Announcing a new $39 online course designed for rural learners specifically as a first online learning experience - "Rural Ecommerce and Telework Strategies." This unique online experience is intended to help rural citizens get comfortable with learning online and developing self-directed learning skills. The course includes a hands-on overview of the best Ecommerce strategies, training resources, and success stories.
During this non-credit course participants will create an online resume as a component of an Internet skills self-assessment and have the option of acquiring additional essential Internet skills for Ecommerce and Telework. Those completing the class will receive a certificate of completion and the opportunity to become a paid online mentor assisting others through the lessons.
The lessons for the online course are included in a 200 page printed resource manual available for $20, also online at http://lone-eagles.com/eguide.htm The class lessons are online at http://lone-eagles.com/ecommerce.htm Registration information is at http://lone-eagles.com/ecommerce-registration.htm Other extensive resources created by Lone Eagle Consulting for building learning communities, including graduate online courses for educators are at http://lone-eagles.com and are shared without restriction as our commitment to lending our wings to others.
This online course represents the best lessons learned from 15 years experience teaching rural educators and rural citizens online - to determine the highest possible benefits of online learning, Internet applications, and community networking. This course is suitable for all learners with a 7th grade reading level.
Potential funders should consider focusing on assessing those community technology training programs which demonstrate replicable models for how to get citizens involved to generate measurable outcomes, local web-based content, and widespread motivation.Come One, Come All!
The following is a short flyer for a kick-off presentation beginning three days of community Internet awareness events to grow attention to the need for Ecommerce applications in Montpelier, Idaho, June 26-29, 2002. A similar program for the villages will be created.
"Homesteading the Ecommerce Frontier"
Idaho's rural communities are at risk for their continued survival. The immediate need exists to revitalize the pioneering spirit that originally created them to meet the serious challenges to their very existence.
Many rural citizens will be forced to move to the city to find work while those in the city who learn Internet and Ecommerce skills will have the option to relocate to the very homes in rural communities that have been abandoned. Those wishing to retain their rural lifestyles must consider carefully their immediate opportunity to determine their own destinies.
Just as our forefathers came to Idaho to homestead the western frontier to provide for their families, now it is our turn to homestead a new frontier the electronic frontier!
Time is limited as international rural communities will soon be in direct competition with our rural communities. Take advantage of the limited window of opportunity to be the first to benefit from the social and economic potential the Internet puts at our fingertips.
APPENDIX A -An Alaskan Bush Villages Case Study
The following is a brief account of a three day workshop held May, 2002 for YKSD educators and is presented as an example of the culturally appropriate training strategy.
Assessing the Readiness to Learn About InternetThere are 192 Alaskan Native villages in very remote locations which share a suicide rate four times higher than any other group in the U.S. The cultural spirit of self-sufficiency has been damaged by three generations of welfare dependency and outside influence. The current economics are dire and many traditional sources of income have disappeared. Morale is at an all time low, yet the Internet does offer many potential solutions.
During 1998-2000, the first Internet satellite systems were installed in the 11 bush villages of the Yukon-Koyukuk Regional Consortium (YKSD). Three one-day Internet workshops were held in 11 bush villages over a two-year period.
The general reaction by the educators intended to be the first to benefit from the Internet was "here comes yet another opportunity for us to learn about technologies for which we'll have no local technical support or ongoing training and for which we'll be expected to educate ourselves on our own time." "Once this trainer leaves we'll go back to doing what we've been doing." One major limitation was the educators had yet to be taught enough computer basics to be comfortable using computers.
Free email via hotmail.com was the biggest hit of the original workshops. Villagers often visit other villages and the ability to check email from any computer on the Internet was far preferred to the original system which limited everyone to local computers only. The Internet has steadily become more and more culturally accepted.
As gradual exposure to the Internet grew, often from seeing what their students were able to find and to teach themselves - interest in the Internet and the potential for other applications grew. Today, four years later since the first introduction to Internet - there is a new readiness to revisit how rural villages might benefit from the Internet as more and more examples of the innovations of others have become evident.
There was originally very little effort to involve the community in learning about the Internet on the school's system. Due to educators receiving only one day of Internet training per year, most of the expensive infrastructure (up to $12000/month) went unutilized. The vision to realize the power wasn't present. Most had little idea of what the Internet offered. Leaders and community members had not attended the workshops intended to train the educators.
Doors Opening for Village Ecommerce
The Federal Communications Commission has recently ruled that E-rate-funded school-based systems can be used for local Ecommerce, but few in the villages have the skills for Ecommerce applications. School-based Internet systems could use new wireless systems to bring high-speed Internet direct to village homes and the offices of community organizations. In question is who will demonstrate the potential, provide leadership to help make this happen, and deliver the necessary appropriate training?
A 2002 Culturally-Focused Internet Workshop
May 26-29th 2002 a three-day workshop was held in Fairbanks, AK for six educators from three bush villages from YKSD. The brief description of the curriculum below serves as a recommended model.
We started with identifying the three historical firsts the Internet brings to the villages:
1. The ability to search and retrieve information globally in seconds,
2. The ability to self-publish globally by creating and posting web pages
3. The ability to collaborate conveniently locally or worldwide.
Since all participating educators were Athabascan, we first learned to search the Internet using the keyword "Athabascan." We then used multiple keywords adding "beadwork, crafts, dancing, etc." When the educators found interesting images, they learned how to save them and how to insert them in their first web pages along with links to Athabascan resources. As they added background colors, animations, learned to place and size the images, and added text descriptions below the images -their excitement grew. Then everyone posted their web creations on the Internet at http://geocities.yahoo.com - which offers free web hosting. Having spent three hours at the computers, we broke for lunch.
When we returned from lunch, we reviewed the advanced email applications and they were pleased to learn how to:
1. Send images and files via email as well as
2. Create dedicated folders (e-mailboxes) for saving and organizing email,
3. Create 'groups' for sending email to many people at once,
4. Create signature files to add individual expression and contact information
to the bottom of all messages automatically
5. Search and sort e-mailboxes to retrieve saved information easily.
Realizing it had been a full day, web addresses were presented which contained rich collections of Alaskan Native information and they explored these along with Alaskan project-based learning entries for the International Thinkquest competition and the International Cyberfair competition. Several of those attending found images of their own relatives on the web, included a Quicktime video interview of a local village elder. The day ended with the educators mentally exhausted but excited about what they were able to do themselves.
The second day we started with a presentation on how a digital art tablet can support local artistic creativity, followed by the digital storytelling capabilities of the Sony Mavica CD-1000 digital camera. Everyone got to play with the camera -creating images with up to 40 seconds of audio narration, as well as 15 second MPEG mini-movies. Software was provided that allowed them to reorder these talking slides and mini-movies in any order. It was demonstrated how any family album with normal print color photographs could become a multimedia presentation within minutes with a minimum of technical training - (by adding narrations to pictures of pictures.) Everyone took digital photos of each other and added them to their web pages.
The Mentaska Lake village web page was shown where web pages presented images of the honored elders, the tribal council, a tour of the village, a village events calendar, and a local innovation where teachers post students' homework daily for parents to check up on. Reports are that this is very popular with the parents, but not so popular with the students. A model village library web page hosting extensive resources was shown among many other exceptional web pages hosting archives of Alaskan Native curriculum from multiple sources.
The teachers created web-based quizzes at sites which automatically will email their students' quiz results to the teachers. They edited webquest templates to see how easy it would be to create their own project-based learning web activities, in addition to having hundreds of existing webquests ready to use at any time. Multiple lesson plan databases and curriculum archives were explored, searchable by grade level and content area.
A dogsled-building tutorial from Nelson Lagoon School was shown as just one example of web curriculum created by other Alaskan educators during the online course they plan on taking themselves soon http://lone-eagles.com/teachercreated.htm. Rich listings of web-based curriculum authoring tools were explored http://lone-eagles.com/teacherstools.htm. They viewed web-based electronic student portfolios from the Mt. Edgecumb Boarding School and other Alaskan Native web innovations http://lone-eagles.com/alaskan.htm including online Ecommerce models for Native crafts from http://www.toksookbayalaska.com and youth entrepreneurship training resources http://lone-eagles.com/entrelinks.htm.
A simple alphabetized list of topics linking to volunteer online mentors was shown as a collaboration model their villages could easily replicate. Such a listing would allow all villagers the opportunity to advertise and share their expertise using the convenience of email as one way of sharing information. Maintaining a topical web page of related resources would be another way to share expertise and mentoring services locally. The educators continued to review existing cultural web applications and to gather images and links to add to their own web pages.
On the third day, we created our first Powerpoint multimedia presentations inserting images and text on multiple slides using colorful background templates. An introduction to creating customized video presentations using Imovie included a short Imovie of the previous day's workshop created by one of those attending. Efficiency tricks were reviewed for cut-and-paste, drag-and-drop, how to create folders within folders and how to organize and move files of all types.
When everyone finished working on their web pages, digital photos, and workshop creations - everyone's work was copied on CDROM's for them to take to the villages. Note: The Internet is turned off in the summertime to save money and everyone's free email accounts will expire.
Ongoing Online Learning To Support the Face-to-Face Workshops
The educators knew that their training was not over, but had just begun. The trainer was scheduled for one week the coming Fall in each village, and again for a week in January. During the Fall on-site workshop everyone will begin a 3 semester credit online graduate class (suitable for recertification) to continue the interaction among the group as they engage the online lessons for ongoing learning throughout the Fall Semester. Learning-to-learn online is fundamental to becoming a self-directed Internet learner and to prepare them for teaching online, both for their local students and for teaching about their culture - worldwide.
Everyone at the workshop was impressed by all the Athabascan information already accessible on the Internet, and particularly on how they were able to create their own Athabascan web pages, images, digital stories, Powerpoint presentations, digital art, and more during only three days. When the workshop began one teacher was quick to state the fact that she didn't have the time in the village to learn computers. But, after the workshop she stated she would indeed like a computer with Internet in her home, after all.
The workshop focused on hands-on learning for what they could do themselves to support their culture and their teaching. The presentations served to show them what they could yet learn during the coming on-site workshops. The question of what role can these educators and their students play in supporting similar vision and skills development of their communities was a subtle theme of the workshop.
Many suggestions were given, such as pairing students with elders for creating cultural multimedia projects and digital storytelling. Many sources were given for participating in online project-based learning activities with classrooms from other cultures. Web-based Athabascan language projects have already been done in one village and the challenges related to creating a pilot village project to see how many quality multimedia cultural initiatives could get started with the available time and talent were discussed. Equipment wish lists were collected from everyone, based on what they had seen presented.
Once the educators understood that the trainer was coming back again and again, the idea of the online class was far less threatening. They can anticipate the online support and unfailing emotional encouragement of the instructor. The threat of failure had been removed by the mastery learning format of the class and the opportunity to look forward to follow-up face-to-face instruction. Humor is important as is continual encouragement to counter the ever present fear of technology and the associated fear of feeling stupid in the face of technology and in front of their peers.
Educators Educating the Community
At issue, is what is the role of local educators concerning helping create community Internet awareness and use of the Internet for ongoing community learning, particularly regarding the new Rural Ecommerce opportunities which are badly needed? Should educators be expected to volunteer their limited free time to champion local community training programs? Fair incentives of home-based Internet access and a personal computer should be provided to all educators willing to engage in community training.
Due to a recent ruling by the Federal Communications Commission wireless distribution of school-based Internet to the village homes for Ecommerce and general learning has been approved. Serious political and infrastructure barriers have been removed. But, here begins the social engineering challenges for effective rural innovation diffusion. Toward this end the following proposal was written in an effort to win funding for additional equipment to help make these villages successful models to inspire other villages as to what can truly be done. Several large scale Alaskan Internet infrastructure projects being considered may face major failure unless there's a successful training model to follow. The history of similar projects is typically major under-utilization of Internet infrastructure and minimal local buy-in due to the lack of a proven replicable training program.
APPENDIX B -
by Frank Odasz
Lone Eagle Consulting
2200 Rebich Lane
Dillon, Montana, USA 59725
The following paper will be presented in Rockhampton, Australia to representatives from 22 countries, August 26-29th, 2002. Conference details at http://itira.cqu.edu.au
The full paper as submitted is at http://lone-eagles.com/sovereignty.htm
The potential power of thoughtful use of Internet to support the sovereignty and sustainability of tribes is too great to take the effectiveness of measurable community engagement and Internet empowerment lightly.
This paper addresses the challenges of designing and delivering a culturally appropriate community curriculum to deliver the highest levels of motivation and measurable benefit - requiring the least amount of time and effort .and requiring the lowest level of pre-requisite literacy. Emphasis is on those processes most likely to effectively involve tribal members to generate measurable outcomes such as local web-based content, collaborative sharing of skills, Ecommerce applications, and visions for yet greater applications in support of their cultural community.
The opportunity exists to use the Internet to gather and share locally those strategies proven to be successful elsewhere. Providing access to the tools alone has not proven to guarantee that the job of creating sustainable cultural communities will be accomplished.
The Capstone Vision
"The world's diverse cultures jointly represent the full cultural genome of humankind's search for individual and group identity and meaning."
The immediate need exists to record for posterity this invaluable shared story of humankind with immediate emphasis on the cultural knowledge of our elders while the opportunity still exists. There is limited time to accomplish this important task. Half the 6,000 languages worldwide will be extinct in one lifetime. The vast cultural knowledge of our elders must be recorded via multimedia storytelling for preservation while they are still with us.
15,000 cultures have the opportunity to build on proven successes as opposed to replicating past mistakes made by others. Those first to explore the potential of the Internet will have the advantage of the powerful sharing and community-building capabilities of the Internet to first empower themselves - and then to inform and teach global cultures on the most culturally appropriate and empowering Internet applications which they have themselves validated.
Due to new satellite and wireless technologies - it is becoming increasingly
economically feasible to bring solar-powered high speed Internet connectivity to remote
indigenous communities worldwide. While the vision is that indigenous communities will be
dramatically empowered by this access - the effective training and changes in behavior to
achieve the potential empowerment have proven to present significant challenges.
It will ultimately prove to be the level of vision, will, motivation, training, and the ability to take collaborative action - that will determine the level of benefits realized from Internet access.
Half the global population has never made a first phone call, but most may receive high speed Internet in our lifetime through new satellite and wireless technologies. Will they receive culturally appropriate instruction on both the risks and the benefits? If so, from whom, and how soon? It took 25 years for the telephone to become a part of modern society. What will indigenous peoples lose if it takes as long to realize the potential of the Internet?
Many indigenous peoples are among the first 1% of the world's indigenous peoples to have the opportunity, the honor, and the responsibility to be first to assess both the risks and the benefits of Internet access for traditional cultures. The opportunity exists to use the Internet to gather and share locally those strategies proven to be successful elsewhere. Providing access to the tools alone has not proven to guarantee that the job of creating sustainable cultural communities will be accomplished.
One of the key challenges regarding empowerment training - based on the experience of Lone Eagle Consulting - is that one can't lend their wings to others until they are ready.Lone Eagle Consulting's Mission Statement
Lone Eagle Consulting strives to maintain the small circle of the very best
Internet learning pathways, requiring the least time and effort, to deliver the
highest levels of benefit and motivation for people of all cultures and literacy levels.
A Fatal Flaws Analysis
The following five components are recommended for consideration as part of a "Fatal Flaws Analysis" for all Indigenous Internet projects.
1. Leaders need to integrally understand themselves what they advocateThose in leadership positions are often not computer or Internet users and risk basing their technology and training decisions on dangerous assumptions. Leaders need to gain direct hands-on experience with the technology with emphasis on seeing first-hand the specific applications they are advocating for tribal members. Good intentions cannot replace factual knowledge and direct experience with the broad range of potential Internet applications. Leaders should not expect others to adopt new technology applications if they are not prepared to do so themselves.
2. Empowerment comes from the specific Internet applications tribal
members will actually engage, not the just installation of
While Internet physical infrastructure is certainly a logical first step, the benefits of infrastructure are not automatic or assured. For each dollar invested in infrastructure, a dollar should be invested for training or serious under-utilization is likely to devalue the infrastructure investment. It cannot be assumed that the most empowering Internet applications will be obvious and will be realized. Internet Infrastructure is not the same as installing good plumbing where tribal members' participation or changes in behavior are not required. The levels of empowerment will be defined by the application of new skills and by the number of tribal members who gain and exercise these specific new skills.
3. Defining measurable outcomes will prove to define success.
Emphasis should be on the desired final measurable outcomes, not just on installation of infrastructure. Many projects have proved unable to measure the promised benefits to justify the expense of Internet infrastructure and monthly Internet fees. Identifying the specific Internet applications desired has a great deal to do with specific decisions regarding the most appropriate infrastructure required. Don't buy what you're not prepared to use.
It should be expected that it will take years to grow the visions and skills for the highest levels of Internet empowerment. Paying high fees for infrastructure which will be primarily unused at the cost of sacrificing funding for skills training has proven repeatedly to not produce the desired outcomes. Planning on figuring out how to use the infrastructure after a tribe has invested heavily has proven to waste huge sums of money. As costs for infrastructure are steadily dropping, it is important to realize that many skills can be taught using lower-speed Internet systems to prepare tribal members to make best use of higher speed systems when they become affordable.
4. Collaborative skills and community networking bring the highest
If individuals use the Internet primarily to 'leave the village' to explore the Internet instead of collaborating and sharing knowledge locally, then the local community is not likely to benefit at the highest levels possible.
Collaborative action to gather the best-of-the-best to post on local web pages as well as sharing skills with those who need friendly mentoring will bring the highest levels of benefit to an indigenous community. Today, we're hunters and gatherers of ideas and information that can sustain the tribe - which is really not so different than it was for former generations. The opportunity exists to use the Internet to gather and share locally those strategies proven to be successful elsewhere.
Understanding the true potential the Internet offers will require community-wide hands-on experience, regular community events to showcase new applications, and social recognition for those who bring new skills to the village and teach them to others.
It should be decided which specific skills every tribal member needs to gain, such as email, browsing, and searching skills. It should also be decided which skills need to be present in every village - made available to everyone by those who have attained high skill levels and are willing to share their skills. Examples include skills for creating web pages, manipulating digital images, creating digital artwork, multimedia storytelling, and sending photos of local products and crafts for sale to Ebay and other Ecommerce sites on the Internet.
5. Know how to deal with the risks of Internet to traditional culture
before cultural damage can occur.
There is much current emphasis on the risks cultures face from not having Internet access. But, there needs to be far more emphasis on the risks culture will face FROM Internet access! For example, sixty percent of general Internet use is for access to pornography. If a tribe brings Internet to all tribal homes without a strategy for dealing with this issue, negative impacts on local culture are possible.
When presented with the question "What would you like most like to find on the Internet" one tribal member stated honestly "How to make drugs from floor cleaner." This information is available via Internet as is bomb-making and hate literature. Additional issues to be carefully considered are child safety, privacy, and copyright/authenticity protection for tribal intellectual property and products.
Despite these risks, Internet technology may be the most powerful option available for cultures to protect and preserve traditional culture and values. Information technology is just a tool, but a very powerful tool - which can be used for both positive and negative purposes. Whoever brings such power to tribal members bears the great responsibility to assure that it is not misused.
Lessons Learned from Rural America
Rural communities in the U.S. in the mid-nineties viewed local dial-up Internet access as essential to their economic survival - and today call for broadband speeds. But, careful examination of the facts reveals that few community training programs accompanied the introduction of local dial-up Internet and as a direct result few citizens benefited at the level that was anticipated. Evidence is dramatically mounting that the process by which people come to embrace the full potential the Internet puts at their fingertips has yet to be demonstrated.
The presumption has been that Internet infrastructure would bring automatic economic and social benefits much like the railroad did in the past century, but this has not proved to be the case.
In the mid-eighties when the Internet was text-only and hard to use, early adapters fought for local dial-up access based on their vision for high levels of online collaboration and electronic democracy - not simply solo-browsing as is the dominant application today.
The U.S. slump in technology stocks is due in part to the fact that people have not embraced the empowering potential of the Internet as quickly as was hoped. Changing human behavior requires far more than just wiring a community.
In many rural U.S. communities the Internet is viewed not as a rural economic development solution and pipeline to global markets, but as a time-wasting toy best suited for children. After the slump in technology stocks many feel the promise of the Internet was proved to be false. In reality we are limited only by our imaginations which has proved to often be a severe limitation!
Access to technology cannot presume that citizens will train themselves to high levels of proficiency. For example - only five percent of those (one in twenty) with VCR's have learned to program them to record programs automatically. Learning to benefit from the Internet will require more new skills than learning to program a VCR!
In most rural communities, heads will nod at the following statement. "We've yet to see a rural community benefit significantly from the Internet." Because installation of the Internet didn't automatically produce visible economic benefits, many feel this disproved the potential of the Internet. At the same time, early adapters in most rural communities are already demonstrating Ecommerce successes, but their innovations are often ignored by those who shun technology.
International rural and indigenous communities need to thoroughly understand the lessons learned by other communities so they don't literally waste years replicating what has already proven not to work. One of the best features of Internet connectivity is that you can easily gather state-of-the-art knowledge on what does work, but having Internet access does not automatically mean this knowledge will be sought out and well utilized. In fact, our past habits of independence often lead us to ignore the access to these new sources of information.
Gaining Clarity on the Specific Challenges
In question - is which community curriculum can prove to deliver the highest levels of motivation and measurable benefit - requiring the least amount of time and effort .and perhaps requiring the lowest level of pre-requisite literacy? How can we most effectively get citizens involved to generate measurable outcomes, local web-based content, and widespread motivation?
The process to be operationally defined is one of:
1. Growing accurate awareness as to what's possible
2. Establishing a shared vision around measurable goals
3. Establishing a widespread skills development and citizen engagement strategy
4. Establishing a sustainable process for encouraging ongoing learning, skills
sharing, and innovation
Resources From Lone Eagle Consulting:
APPENDIX C -
Common Ground:http://lone-eagles.com/guide.htm Created for USAID, AT&T and the ERIC
A Cross-Cultural Self-Directed Learner's Internet Guide
clearinghouse. An instructional brokerage resource with emphasis on pointing
to the best online tutorials, and educational resources, on the Internet for self-
directed learning. This is the text for the online course below "Making the Best
Use of Internet for K-12 Instruction."
Echoes in the Electronic Wind:http://lone-eagles.com/nativeguide.htm Same resources as Common Ground,
A Native American Cross-cultural Internet Guide
(above) but with the addition of over 20 pages of carefully reviewed Native
American web resources listed by topic.
These guides are supported by free access to two graduate credit online classes:
1. ED 597 4L - Making the Best Use of Internet for K-12 Instruction
Alaska Pacific University Three Semester Credit Version
A hands-on course on how to broker the best resources for your
2. ED A597 6L - Designing K-12 Internet Instruction
Alaska Pacific University 3 Semester Credit Version
A hands-on course on how to easily create Internet hotlists, web-tours,
lessonplans, project-based learning activities (Webquest, Cyberfair,
Thinkquest) and complete online courses using online web tools.
Community Internet Empowerment Resources for Alaskan Natives and Native Americans
Alaskan Native and Native American Empowerment Guide
A tribal leadership guide.
Examples of Native American Web Innovations
Twenty pages of exceptional cultural models
Major U.S. Native American Internet Projects
An Alaskan Village Bootstrap Academy
A grant template for a community Internet awareness raising program.
Alaskan Native Youth Cultural Community-building
http://lone-eagles.com/bartsgrant.htm A grant template.
A youth-driven grant model.
Native American/Alaskan/Hawaiian K12 Innovations Report and Clearinghouse
Building Learning Communities
World Class K-12 Web-based Instruction
The Good Neighbor's Guide to Community Networking
Contains 11 Chapters on Ecommerce, youth-based community development, model sites
and URLs, plus a bibliography listing the best community networking guides and resources.
Rural Ecommerce and Telework Strategies
http://lone-eagles.com/eguide.htm A 200 page book including ten online lessons. Online lessons and online course details http://lone-eagles.com/ecommerce.htm
Internet Satellite and Wireless Solutions