Culture Club: Building Learning Communities

A Youth-Driven, Cross-Cultural, Skills
and Storytelling Exchange

By Frank Odasz, Lone Eagle Consulting,
For a 3 page workshop version see


Rural communities, and their diverse cultures, are faced with the urgent challenge to adopt Internet use for cultural and economic survival. Youth are the key change agents and technology leaders in all cultures and rural communities. Youth literally embody the future of their cultures and rural communities.

Cultural and community survival, in the face of accelerating change and shifting economic patterns, is the over-reaching theme for this project in the context of learning to become global citizens able to tolerate diversity, and differing worldviews, while maintaining, celebrating, and strengthening their own cultures and communities.

Youth will identify the BEST resources to benefit the MOST people at the LEAST cost, to be customized locally, for the local context, as an ‘instructional entrepreneurship’ service.

This project will demonstrate how youth mentoring skills, online and face-to-face, can become an immediate community resource, and can evolve into a genuine vocational opportunity, allowing youth to work locally to build a future for their rural communities and/or cultural groups. Those receiving skills mentorship will be asked to mentor others to repay the attention they’ve received.

The missing component of most digital divide "solutions" is bottom-up validation by members of their respective rural communities, and cultural groups, as to the ‘real benefits for real people’ from their own people. Digital divide populations need a process by which they assess and disseminate the best resources, training materials, tools, and practices, themselves.

This project will demonstrate how youth can provide "fast-track awareness raising" through identification and validation of Internet benefits from their own cultural, and community, perspective. Individual, and cultural, self-assessments of both the benefits, and the risks, of Internet use will be explored and disseminated in story form.

Examples of how their own people are helping each other, and supporting their families, communities, and cultures, will be celebrated and made accessible via Web Tours which youth will maintain as ‘living’ documention of Internet applications for self-empowerment and mutual support.

It is now possible for those populations at the lowest levels of Internet literacy to leapfrog ahead by receiving, on an ongoing basis, the best, free online tools, self-directed learning resources, and practices, for collaboration, teaching others, storytelling, cultural expression, and Ecommerce.

The youth teams from multiple cultures, and communities, will share the goal of simultaneously creating global resources for youth in the 15,000 cultures worldwide which will be receiving Internet access within the next 10-20 years…in a world where today less than half the world’s population has made their first phonecall.

Youth will host multimedia presentations for their communities and cultural groups showing those Internet applications which produce "Universal Social Benefits" to allow their people to protect and empower one another.

A recognition program for celebrating achievement of those successive empowering skill milestones that allow local people to empower themselves, and others, will be created with emphasis on their identification of the "innovation diffusion" methods which have proven to be most effective within their local community and culture.

Use of Internet collaborative tools to draw people closer together and ‘build community’ will be emphasized as will identification of the ‘innovation diffusion process’ by which other cultures can also learn to survive, in the face of accelerating change.

Replicable Ecommerce models, with emphasis on local successes, will be presented to local citizens both on the web, and through face-to-face awareness workshops, along with basic Internet skills and benefits.

Existing Internet tutorials, and learning resources, will be modified for appropriate cultural use by multiple youth teams representing diverse cultures and communities.

Over the past two years, the Kellogg "Managing Information for Rural America" initiative has created community teams of youth and adults from diverse geographical rural regions and cultural backgrounds. This project would engage select MIRA teams, and other select community teams, to take the next step demonstrating that the most effective social and economical means to impart the self-empowerment potential of the Internet to rural communities of diverse cultures is by youth teaching youth, across cultures, via Internet. Additional teams will be able to join the Culture Club if they can meet the minimal equipment and ‘time commitment’ requirements.

Ideally, urban teams would be added, allowing exploration of the commonalities of rural and urban challenges, such as social isolation, lack of self-confidence, the need for organizational capacity and a motivating vision.

Cultural and community survival is very much an economic issue, and while shifting economic patterns due to Ecommerce trends represent many threats, many genuine opportunities do indeed exist which need to be rapidly identified, and replicated, as a survival strategy before major damage has had time to occur.

The following project component will create a sustainable business modeling the best of social entrepreneurship practices and will exist under the broader "cultural survival strategies" mission of the Culture Club. The project goals for each of the three years of the project will combine the lead themes of Culture Club and the Lone Eagles Apprenticeship Program.

The "Lone Eagles" Apprenticeship Program

An Agricultural Youth Mentoring Ecommerce Co-op

A "Lone Eagles" Youth Co-op will be created as a sustainable, youth-driven business to meet the need of American rural "digital divide" communities first, and foremost. The secondary mission of this project will be to create a replicable youth mentorship model to meet the global need of 15,000 cultures who will be connecting to the Internet in the coming decade, in a world where half the population has yet to make their first phone call.

The International Thinkquest competition has already demonstrated the viability of youth creating high quality web-based instructional resources for worldwide access. The Thinkquest CDROM, complete with software, tutorials, and sample instructional web site, demonstrates an effective and economical way of disseminating training, software, and a vision for their application.

Emerging satellite and wireless technologies will bring affordable computers and Internet to billions over the next 10-15 years. With the current teacher shortage in the USA, the challenge will be how to create scaleable, mentored and self-directed, instructional opportunities appropriate for diverse cultures.

During a three year period ten, or more, teams of 4-10 youth, representing a minimum of six diverse cultures, will engage in a program of both face-to-face, and online mentored learning, to prove not only that youth-to-youth cross-cultural mentorship is viable, but is the most effective economic and social strategy available. Each team will have an adult team leader.

The teams will include:

Rural Hawaiian Youth: Big Island MIRA team

Rural Appalachian Youth: Ohio/Appalachian MIRA team

Rural Native Alaskan Youth: Project Education Charter School

Rural Native American Youth: Fort Peck Reservation School

Rural Migrant/Hispanic Youth: MECHA Migrant program

Rural Montanan Youth: Dillon, Montana

Rural African American Youth (South East)

Rural Midwest Youth (Farmbelt)

Ideally Urban teams would be added.

Frank Odasz, President of Lone Eagle Consulting, and founder of the Big Sky Telegraph Network, will leverage his long record of pioneering "online mentorship" projects to create the original online instructional units for this project to be used by youth, to train youth in other cultures, via Internet.

Mr. Odasz will be creating for the ERIC clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools a "Cross-cultural Self-directed Internet Curriculum" based on the most empowering Internet skills. Mr. Odasz has worked extensively with Native Alaskans, Native Americans, Migrants and diverse rural populations in multiple capacities. ( The "Reach for the Sky" mentoring project received $880,000 in 1993 to create online courses on mentoring for rural teachers.


A Request for Proposals will be distributed to selected MIRA teams, and other youth groups, from which ten teams of 4-10 youth will be selected, each with at least one adult mentor, from different geographical regions and cultural backgrounds.

Each team will also receive, to share with the local community, a digital video camera, graphics tablet, multimedia projector, musical MIDI keyboard, and appropriate software for multimedia storytelling and Ecommerce applications.

Each team member will earn a loaner laptop, by learning a self-empowerment curriculum of Internet collaborative tools and web-based storytelling skills, and then teaching these skills to other youth, via Internet.

Team members will then teach this same curriculum, via Internet in years two and three, to youth in other cultures within a flexible evaluative structure that will thoroughly document successes in both affective and cognitive domains. Mentoring successes will be rewarded by youth exchange opportunities where participants will earn the opportunity to travel to meet their mentees to further revise their mentoring approaches and instructional materials.

New forms of evaluative metrics will thoroughly document mentoring and instructional effectiveness to create an assessment model to support expansion of this training program and to create robust employment portfolios for each participating youth. A certification program based on Internet and mentoring skill development will be created.

Seeding Local Community Technology Centers

Youth will present bimonthly, informal community presentations demonstrating uses of their teams equipment and imaginations. Multimedia projectors with sound capabilities will allow students to attract citizens with colorful, exciting presentations to include their original artwork, digital photography and videos, and music.

Students will be able to demonstrate web display of oral histories of Elders, global marketing of local crafts and products, and the best local, and non-local, replicable successes of cultural expression and Ecommerce.

The ten laptops provided to the youth could be used as a mobile computer lab, able to network into a mobile LAN which could use a single phoneline for Internet access by all ten laptops simultaneously. Offline browsers will be used to have hundreds of the best web pages cached for instant access, allowing for simulation of broadband access. Local communities would be asked to compensate youth for their time if regular hands-on training sessions are organized, and as youth create web innovations for local citizens.

Leading with Digital Art and Musical Applications
to Promote Gender equity

Digital art and music applications will be promoted to attract a broader segment of their communities than would be attracted to computers and Internet, alone. This will increase gender equity and emphasize the full spectrum of individual and cultural self-expression options.

Digital art skills are now at the top of the list of employability skills. Digital music skills relate directly to multimedia use of audio in multiple formats, including Internet streaming audio and video. Via Internet, youth can now host their own radio stations and/or video broadcasts. Aside from these obvious and necessary technical benefits, digital art and musical applications are inherently motivating and represent the best of Internet for humanistic expression!

A formal recognition program will provide social incentives and additional equipment awards for expanding the community technology centers which will grow from each team’s activities.

The Key Objectives of this program are to:

Demonstrate how youth can help rural communities learn to benefit through creating their own ‘learning communities’ to keep pace with their opportunities, and challenges, related to accelerating change.

Demonstrate how to retain youth as a community resource by identifying culturally supportive Ecommerce opportunities

Identify and disseminate examples of both benefits, and risks, of Internet use, and Internet Ecommerce, for rural communities and cultures.

Create a showcase of web-based examples of individual, familial, cultural and community empowerment and expression successes, supported by self-directed instructional materials and a youth-driven, mentorship service, offered in both a culture-specific format, and a cross-cultural format.

Provide a model of global citizenship within the context of preserving rural communities and cultural identity.

Customize the provided online self-directed curriculum for cultural expression and empowerment, for their cultural group, with culturally appropriate examples.

Demonstrate the effectiveness of cross-cultural youth-to-youth teaching of Internet collaborative skills, as well as within the same culture.

Create a showcase website of agricultural Ecommerce successes, supported by self-directed instructional materials and a youth-driven, mentorship service.

Create original online curriculum to support dissemination of agricultural Ecommerce concepts, models and skills appropriate to their rural communities and cultures.

This project will span three years:

Year One: Mentoring and Storytelling

Year One will involve mastery of the basic skills and a first experience imparting basic skills to other students, via Internet. These skills will focus on use of Internet collaborative tools, mentorship skills, and web-based multimedia storytelling. Community and cultural identity and experience will be expressed to share with all project mentors and mentees.

Individual and Cultural Self Assessment will be conducted by identifying the benefits and risks of Internet access for individual, familial, cultural and community self-empowerment. Stories that demonstrate ‘innovation diffusion’ and how citizens within their own culture come to understand and learn to realize the benefits will be a priority.

Youth and Elders Mentoring and Storytelling
All participating youth will partner with at least one elder from their culture on a cultural community web-based story-telling project, in addition to each youth telling his/her own background via a web-based pictorial biographical story.

This project component would create a culture-specific mentoring program using volunteers, college students, and citizens, to assist and encourage the online learning of members of their ethnic group utilizing the existing Internet Guide and online courses listed above. This could easily be part of multiple preservice teacher preparation programs

Storytelling Collection (Validation of cultural benefits)

This aspect of Culture Club would be to establish web-based forms inviting members of the respective ethnic groups to contribute web addresses representative of innovations by members of their cultural group, to include a web-form for convenient collection and dissemination of stories of cultural empowerment using the Internet. This would provide a convenient, ongoing means for people to support their cultural constituents

This would include showcasing bottom-up innovations by ethnic group, web storytelling, and bottom-up peer online instruction, integrated with community-building themes of school and community technology centers, community networks, and building effective virtual communities!

While many great stories and models exist, they need to be gathered, organized and presented in a coordinated and accessible format. The use of graphical web pages as a new storytelling medium needs to be properly demonstrated for the effectiveness it can bring sharing visions as to what Internet offers cultural groups. (Storytelling site with "how-to" tutorials: The theme for this initiative is what people can do for themselves and others, not what should be done ‘to them’ for their own benefit.

A formal recognition program will be created, to reward those who are empowering their cultural groups though Internet learning! (Emphasizing support of others while under-playing individualism.)

Such resources would include documentation of replicable, appropriate Ecommerce models which would become part of the training program. Risks and benefits of Internet and Ecommerce for rural communities, and cultures, will be assessed, and documented, as an online resource for all rural communities and cultures. It will be a publicized ongoing group effort to keep the above web resources current and truly representative of the best on the web.

Year Two: Cultural Expression and Agricultural Ecommerce

Year Two will involve both receiving and delivering a youth entrepreneurship curriculum with emphasis on agricultural and rural applications. Youth will create their own web-based resources to supplement their instruction of other youth, who will also be participating in creation of resources to assist the learning of all participants. Emphasis will be on the "brokerage" role of utilizing existing Internet resources presented in an appropriate "local" context.

Examples and skills for cultural expression will be emphasized, including a review of existing and potential ‘cultural entrepreneurship’ opportunities, such as marketing cultural crafts, instruction, and expertise. Agricultural Ecommerce Niche markets will be identified.

Internet Entrepreneurship Online Course

This course would cover: Cultural Entrepreneurship, instructional entrepreneurship, ecotourism, and cultural tourism, with a primer on existing web tools for small business startups, and culturally specific examples of those who have already succeeded using the Internet successfully for a small business.

Year Three: Instructional Entrepreneurship:
Global Marketing of Youth-Based Instructional

Year Three will leverage two years of online learning and teaching experience, and documentation, to produce youth portfolios of successes as to which skills were successfully taught across which specific cultural boundaries.

These skills will be marketed to global training entities such as the World Bank, Academy for Educational Development and the U.S Agency for International Development as well as national governments worldwide. Mentees will have access to all training materials to provide training to others on their own following this scaleable model.

Scope and Scale:

This project will create a highly replicable, economical and sustainable model for imparting essential Internet collaborative, web-expression and Ecommerce skills, globally.

Global citizenship concepts, attitudes and behaviors will celebrate diversity while identifying how to protect one’s own culture from accelerating change and shifting economic patterns.

All instructional materials will be available for use by additional teams as they are able to secure local resources of computers and Internet access for direct participation. Where personal mentors are not affordable or available, all instruction will be accessible in a self-directed learning format, modeling optimal scalability and creating the immediate potential for impacting large numbers of youth and cultures, worldwide.

Global Citizenship Philosophy Development

Youth and Elders of all participating cultures will build upon the following vision, and constitution, to create a global culture of inclusion, and celebration, of the diversity of the human family.

The Culture Club Vision for the New Millennium

A new global culture will appear, combining caring and connectivity, led by youth and seniors. Youth will prove to be key change agents and technology leaders in all cultures. Unmet needs will be matched with excess resources with radically increased efficiency. World cultures will learn to celebrate their diversity without censoring knowledge of alternative worldviews. We'll all have access to all our joint knowledge through a combination of social and technical systems.

Niche knowledge specialties will become a viable vocation for individuals, in collaboration with others, keeping the world's knowledge base current. Multiple tiers of appropriate human assistance and expertise will be available to all, for the asking. Context will enhance content and "less-is-more" will be the measure of value.

"Information condenses to Knowledge which condenses to Wisdom, and Value is created in an information economy."

Everyone will become both learner, and teacher; imparting such earned wisdom. Successful mentoring of others will be the measure of individual success, in association with creating effective self-directed learning opportunities which can scale to benefit billions. The BEST resources to benefit the MOST people at the LEAST cost will be identified, to be customized by local citizens, for the local context, as an ‘instructional entrepreneurship’ service.

It will be recognized that "Imagination is more important than knowledge," as Einstein first said. An individual's potential impact on global issues and citizens will be recognized as limitless. We'll come to emphasize our abilities to imagine better ways to use the social and technical interconnections between people and knowledge. We’ll redefine "community" as those to which we give our time. The global cultural goal for the human family will be actualization of our joint full potential.

Transnational activism will evolve to engage daily votes on global issues which will involve more citizens daily direct participation than any past elections in human history. Ideational leaders will emerge, articulating the pulse of human emotion and thought in the face of limitless possibilities, on a daily basis.

The Culture Club Constitution
(Philosophical foundation for this project)

We, the members of the Culture Club, hold these truths to be

That increased connectivity among caring people will build local community, and the necessary cultural, social, and organizational capacity to assure our survival.

That Internet resources, and more effective practices, are evolving rapidly and need to be systematically shared between communities and cultures to allow them to continually leapfrog ahead.

That inclusion of members is the source of energy for every culture and community, that new inclusion methods are needed, and that we should be consciously, and continually, be creating new innovative inclusion strategies.

That the pace of technological evolution demands ongoing collection, evaluation, and dissemination of the best known practices for cultural survival, expression, and celebration.

That the social challenges of dealing with accelerating change are greater than the technological challenges.

That we can learn more together than separately.

That our collaborative effectiveness will increase as we all gain experience, and as the tools continue to improve.

That we must, and will, invent new ways of inclusive organization.

That those of us with empowering knowledge and skills have a responsibility to share them with those who need them.

That today we have opportunities to help others greater than have existed at any time in human history, and we will meet the challenge to use, and share them, wisely.


Instructional Materials Development:

A Cross-Cultural Self-Directed Learners Internet Guide

Background Context:

This Guide will create the opportunity to specifically address the cultural self-empowerment potential of Internet use by multiple ethnic groups, by providing appropriate self-directed learning resources on the web and CDROM. This unique resource will demonstrate the necessary scalability of self-directed learning for citizens as well as educators. Emphasis will be on youth as technology leaders and key change agents in all cultures.

Articulation of the need for individual and cultural self-assessment of the most important learning needs, and opportunities for innovation and self-expression, will be included with emphasis on building self-supportive learning communities, to include use of the latest Internet collaborative tools, in a cultural context.

The biggest missing factor, for those across the digital divide, beyond basic Internet access and training materials, is ownership of the bottom-up vision as to what they can do for themselves, and their ethnic communities, with Internet. They need to hear about the benefits from within their own cultural groups.

Without this validation, they may understandably lack the motivation, and all the bandwidth in the world won't make much difference! Storytelling and citing examples of self-empowerment are timely and needed. Examples that demonstrate support of others would be most universally accepted, with the understanding individualism is not universally valued.

The opportunity exists to attract multiple partners willing to take concrete action to realize the Internet self-empowerment potential for those on the other side of the "digital divide."

A Cross-Cultural Self-Directed Learners’ Internet Guide

Building on the extensive work of Frank Odasz with Native Alaskan, Native American and Migrant educators, a "Self-Directed Learner’s Cross-cultural Guide" will be created to be disseminated via print, CDROM, and Web pages. Prototype:

A short introduction to begin "The Guide" will address the following Universal Social Benefits:

Email helps families keep in touch and can be an effective, economical way of supporting those living apart.

Search engines can help with health and other information needs to support family members

The Internet offers self-empowerment through self-directed learning and brings to everyone the opportunity to not only learn anything, anytime, but to teach anyone, anything, anywhere, anytime, including sharing worldwide the best of their culture, will raising self-esteem, general literacy levels, and global awareness.

It is viable to maintain the integrity of cultural tradition while accepting that cultural change is necessary for survival, particularly related to learning what the Internet has to offer. Address issues of censorship of "outside" ideas, and tolerance of other cultures, in light of becoming a globally connected citizen with the power, and hence perhaps the responsibility, to improve the lives of others.

Internet collaborative tools can build local organizational capacity, and rural schools have a new, enhanced mission to serve in rural communities. Schools are often the social center of rural communities and have an expanded role to serve related to lifelong learning Internet applications. Youth can provide community Internet training, and create local entrepreneurial models, through their natural interest in computers and Internet. Community networking, and electronic democracy, are themes that will increasingly will need to be a part of every rural school curriculum, out of necessity for community survival.

This guide is based on four progressive levels for ‘The Internet Style of Learning" as graphically demonstrated on page 7 of the current guide.

1. Learning to become a Self-Directed Learner by using
Internet browsers, search engines, and existing self-directed
learning resources.

2. Learning to author web pages and multimedia
files as the skill set for worldwide multimedia self-
expression, storytelling, online teaching and

3. Learning to use Internet collaborative tools to support
in a real-world problem-solving context, and to create
online collaborative learning pathways by building upon
existing online materials as demonstrated by "The Guide."

4. Learning applications of Internet collaborative tools and
resources such as 1. building culturally supportive learning
communities, 2. "Learning-to-Earn," 3. cultural
entrepreneurship, and 4. electronic democracy .

The Guide will demonstrate a scalable cross-cultural instructional model that can be further customized by various ethnic groups to be most appropriate, entertaining, and efficient, for culturally-specific local, regional, and national training needs. The Guide would serve as a ‘Train-the-Trainers" resource.

The Guide will include self-directed Web Tours of appropriate free online tutorials, online courses, course-authoring resources, collaborative tools, and motivational, exciting, first web experiences set in an appropriate, simplifed context. Health, Parenting, Entrepreneurial, community building and diverse educational resources will be included.

Appendices with Web Tour examples of web innovations from Native Alaskan, Native American, Migrant/Hispanic, and other cultural "early adapters" will be included, allowing for special printings of the guide for these specific cultural groups. A Native Alaskan Web Tour model is at

In addition to the Guide’s robust collection of hands-on explorative activities, a series of self-directed online courses will provide additional learning resources, incorporating many other existing online tutorials and online courses.

The newest Internet Instructional tools can be taught to those at the lowest end of our teacher and citizen educational spectrum in a simple fashion to allow them to leapfrog to the levels of highest benefit. This technique is demonstrated by the following two online courses. Both courses, originally created for educators, would be further modified to be appropriate for youth and citizen use.

The Internet Basics would be taught via a two-day face-to-face workshop, supplemented by the Guide and robust online resources. Youth would engage in the following four online courses over the three year period, with the option to customize them further for their own mentoring and use:

The course sequence would cover:
1. How to find, and broker, the best resources on the Internet
2. How to most easily create online learning resources
3. How to use and teach Internet collaborative tools

4. How to learn and teach Ecommerce models

For a quick listing of the new genre of online curriculum-authoring tools see , and/or the lessons for course below: "Designing Online Curriculum"

ED 567E: Making the Best Use of Internet for K-12 Instruction;

A hands-on, self-directed course focused on skills, strategies
and resources for quickly integrating the best Internet resources
into your existing curriculum! Three Graduate Credits. $295 plus
$25 materials

ED 567F: Designing Online Curriculum for K-12 Instruction;

A hands-on, self-directed course focused on how to quickly
learn to create online K-12 curriculum including hotlists, web-
tours, lessonplans, project-based learning activities (Webquest,
Cyberfair, Thinkquest) and complete online courses!
Three Graduate Credits. $295 plus $25 materials

Create an online course on mentorship using Internet collaborative tools titled: "Building Cultural Learning Communities"

Next would be creation of an online class with emphasis on hands-on use of multiple new, free, Internet collaborative tools, such as those at and as described in "Ten Collaborative Tools"

Other related resources for Native Americans, Migrants, and Communities are at