How do we learn what we learn and know what we know?
In the beginning, folks relied upon the town crier to share important news. The printing press brought us the town newspaper. Radio brought us the FDR fireside chats and Edward R. Murrow. The television gave use Walter Cronkite and the Evening News. In the 1980's, as these traditional media sources became taken over by a handful of billionaires, active learners began seeking out new sources of information. First, there were alternative news websites like Counter Punch and Common Dreams. Then there were audio podcasts like Thom Hartmann. Recently there has been an emergence of video web cast alternative news channels like Democracy Now and the Real News Network. All of these information sharing productions required significant investments of time and money. There is a saying that the news is controlled by the person who owns the printing press.
What is FreeCasting?
Now there is a new option for sharing information that we call FreeCasting. Click HERE to see a slideshow about FreeCasting. FreeCasting allows anyone with a modern computer and a high speed internet connection to start their own broadcasting channel and share information with others for almost no cost and with no need to know computer programming.
This new option allows for the free and open exchange of ideas using free open source tools. These tools include the free Linux operating system and the LibreOffice document sharing program for your computer. They also include free Ebook creation and publishing tools and free website building tools. Most important, they include free video conferencing and video sharing programs. Our mission at College in the Clouds is to help you learn how to use these free open source tools to gain your freedom from the billionaire controlled mass media. Our conviction is that the sharing of information should be free just as a public library is free and our public schools are free.
These free online tools can benefit any teacher, any parent and any student.
These tools allow groups of as few as two or as many as a thousand to interact in a very efficient way that is ideal for sharing knowledge and building relationships.
FreeCasting includes video creation by a panel of experts that is shared live and also posted on an organization's YouTube channel allowing it to be shared with millions of people – who can then post questions on the organizations website for panel experts to answer – empowering everyone from local citizens to national leaders.
FreeCasting can be used as a tool to build and organize a national movement.
Guests on a national panel can be come hosts on a regional panel.
Guests on a regional panel can become hosts on a State panel.
Guests on a State panel can become hosts on a Local panel.
Guests on a Local panel can interact directly with parents and teachers to provide feedback that is then shared with the entire organization through interconnected local, State, Regional and National websites.
Freedom to learn, freedom to share and freedom to organize lead to freedom to act. The same free tools that help folks learn, share and organize can also be used to plan and carry out events.
This is an image of the FreeCasting process.
Below are two examples of how FreeCasting can be used to exchange ideas. The first example is a teacher working with a class. The second example is a process for building a national movement. If you have any questions about freecasting, feel free to place them on our community forum at collegeintheclouds.org. Also visit our College in the Clouds YouTube channel and subscribe to learn about new videos as we post them. We hope you enjoy all of our free courses. And welcome to the future!
Example #1... Use FreeCasting to Help Students Learn
Go to YouTube.com and you will see that folks are using YouTube channels for just about everything from creating their own news broadcasts to online classrooms to organizing local and national political movements. There are even YouTube channels devoted to showing you how to fix your kitchen sink! Here we will outline some important possibilities for using Freecasting – or combining Google Hangout on Air videos with your Personal or Business YouTube account.
Imagine you are a 7th grade math teacher at a high poverty school where half of the kids do not have bus money to even get to school. Or perhaps you are in a high income school district where half of the kids are absent due to an illness outbreak. Or perhaps, one or more of your kids is out on a family vacation. Or in a hospital bed recovering from a car accident. The problem with math is that it involved building blocks. Students need to know the previous skills in order to solve more complex problems later in the course. Google Hangouts allows you to record your entire course or important sections of your course and then post them to your YouTube channel for your students to watch regardless of where they are located.
Computer Access and High Speed Internet Access for All
A common concern is that some low income students may not have a modern computer at home and/or Thankfully, Google has solved this problem by creating the Chromebook series of laptops. These laptops use the free Linux operating system and Linux programs rather than the extremely expensive Windows operating system and related programs. You school district can purchase excellent Google Chromebook laptops, like the ACER C720, with a 12 inch screen for as little as $100 each. In 2014, Google Chromebooks are currently selling at a rate of more than 4 million per year just to public school districts in the US. Switching from Microsoft PCs to Google Chromebooks is currently saving US school districts hundreds of millions of dollars every year and allowing many school districts to buy modern laptops for every student in the school district. If more school districts made the switch to Chromebooks, the savings could rise to billions of dollars every year. Another benefit of all teachers and all students and all school districts moving to Chromebooks is that it would reduce the money Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation have to spend on bribing politicians to destroy our public schools.
Teachers and School districts also have access to a free program called Google Apps for Education. This allows them to raise the limit for a Hangouts Video Conference and Hangouts on Air Recording to 15 students participating (and an unlimited number observing). It also allows access to many other free tools. For example, Google Apps for Education allows the school district to create email addresses for every teacher and student in the school and associate all of these with the school district website hosted for free by Google. Google Drive also allows the transfer of all data off of slow and unreliable school district servers to high speed Google servers with secure encrypted access through Google Drive.
One drawback of Google Chromebooks is that they are limited to processing Google docs in the cloud on Google Drive. However, in just a few minutes, you can add the free Linux Mint operating system to these computers and have access to the free LibreOffice document management system (capable of managing nearly all documents including Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents). Because Google Chromebooks come with a solid state drive, they are much more reliable and quieter that older computers with a spinning drive. The battery life is also a lot longer meaning students can use them in the classroom without the need to plug them in.
Another concern is that low income students may lack access to high speed internet. While school districts generally have high speed internet, what students really need is high speed internet at home to help them watch classroom videos and get their homework done even if they missed school. In Europe, public high speed internet is everywhere. Sadly, in the US, it is less common. However, some cities such as Seattle Washington have arranged for high speed internet to be available everywhere in the city. Talk with your school district and local elected officials about getting free public high speed internet available everywhere in your city so that all students will have access to learning on the internet.
Once all of your students have access to a reasonable computer and high speed internet, all kinds of options become possible. You can video conference one on one with a struggling student and help them and their parents better understand an assignment. If there is a snowstorm, the whole class can be sent a link to a presentation you have posted on YouTube. Those who do not understand the assignment can schedule an appointment for a private Video Conference. Or students can video conference with and learn from each other. Assignments can be posted on Google Drive and students can be divided into teams to create joint projects online. You can record a conference with a leading expert and post it online so that future classes can watch it. Students can even turn in their homework online. No more worrying about the “dog ate my homework.”
There is also a rapidly expanding network of free online courses available to both students and teachers on all kinds of subjects. There is also a free program called Moodle that can be used to structure your online educational programs. Moodle can be integrated with the database of a Joomla website making for a completely integrated educational program. Every teacher, every student, every parent and every school district should look into the option of using Joomla, Moodle, Linux, LibreOffice, Google and YouTube to create free educational networks. Helping everyone learn how to set up these educational networks was one reason we started College in the Clouds. The other reason was to help leaders and members of social and political movements learn how to use these free tools to organize and expand their social and political groups. We will briefly discuss this topic next.
Example #2: UseFreeCasting to Build aGrassroots National Movement
One obstacle facing any low budget social or political organization was how to grow their movement without any money. Here we will explain how free Google Video Conferencing combined with a free YouTube channel can help you grow your movement from a few people with a common cause to a national organization with millions of people. WE will use the example of a group of teachers and parents who want to form a national group to protect our public schools from being destroyed and replaced with billionaire driven private schools.
The following structure is based on the organizational structure and practices of other large national political organizations such as the Democratic Party and the Parent Teachers Organization with three important differences. First, this new organization would be non-partisan and include members of any existing party and endorse candidates of any political party willing to truly support and protect our public schools. Second, the members of this new political movement would be trained and be able to use free web based organizational tools such as Google Hangouts to conduct National, Regional, State, County and Local meetings and exchange information without the need to travel to a physical location. Third, candidates endorsed by this political movement would be offered access to and training in the use of free customized websites, sample fliers and other materials to promote their political campaigns.
Eventual Size of an Effective National Political Movement
While the actual size of a national movement may begin with as few as six members, the eventual goal of a successful national political movement should be one million or more members paying dues of $20 per year which would be split between county, State, regional and national divisions of the organization to pay for a small staff to maintain the database and other structures of the organization (see table below). Just as with the Democratic Party or PTA, the vast majority of the work would be handled by local volunteers with the support and training of a small paid staff. Below is a table of what such an organization might eventually look like.
||Number of Organization
||Division of $20 Membership Dues
||$2 million for Paid National Director/Treasurer and Training Staff
|100,000 to 200,000
||$200,000 each region for
Paid Regional Coordinator/Treasurer and Training Staff
||51 State Organizations
||10,000 to 40,000
||$50,000 each state for Paid State Coordinator/Treasurer
||20 or more per state... Over 1,000
|1,000 to 4,000
||$10,000 each county
Partially Paid County Coordinator/Treasurer
|10 to 400
||Volunteer School District Coordinator and eventually volunteer coordinators at every public school.
Local Websites and National Database Organization
Just as with the PTA and/or Democratic Party, each school district group, county group, State group, Regional Group as well as the national group should have their own websites with all websites linked together through a national database and all website managers and group coordinators trained on how to build and use their own websites. Ideally, all websites should use the same web building tools and database management tools to facilitate transfer of data from local and state groups to the national group and from the national and state groups to the local groups.
Evolution and Organic Growth of a National Political Movement
Research on group dynamics has repeatedly concluded that the most effective group size is 6 to 12 people. Less than 6 people leaves too few people to get the work of the group done and more than 20 people makes it difficult to impossible to conduct an efficient meeting and/or make decisions based on group consensus. It becomes difficult to allow all members to participate and all voices to be heard. Therefore, the goal of an effective video conference should be to have no more than 10 to 15 people be speakers on the video conference panel and no more than 100 people to be able to call in with questions for the panel speakers. The remaining members of the group can watch the conference via live streaming from the group websites. Google Hangouts is ideal for this purpose. Teachers have also found that Google Hangouts is very useful for working online with groups of students and networking with other teachers. Parents have found that Google Hangouts is ideal for visiting with friends and relatives who live in other communities. So it is worth the time for parents and teachers to learn this skill.
As a video conference group reaches a size of 15 speakers, the group should split into two groups of 8 and then continue to meet and grow from there. If there are 20 national leaders, they should split into an Eastern and Western Division. If there are 40 national leaders, they should split and divide into four Regional Divisions. Once there are 60 national leaders, they should divide into six Regional Divisions as described next.
Proposed Regions of a National Political Movement
The purpose of dividing the national organization into about six regions is to provide a smooth transition between the 50 State groups and the national group. There may not be an even number of states in each region as some parts of the country are more populous than others.
Below is a map of how this division might look based on the following division of States.
9 Northeast States: CT, DE, ME MA NH, NY, NJ, RI VT
8 SE States: DC FL GA MD, NC, SC, WV, VA
7 Midwestern IN, IL, KY MI, OH PA WI
8 South Central AR, AL LS NM MS, OK, TN TX
10 North Central CO, IA KS MT, MN MO ND, NB SD WY
9 Western AK AZ CA ID HI NV OR UT WA
Below is the graph of the States. Dividing the nation into smaller regions can act as a bridge between State groups and the national group.
As there may be more active participation in states in some regions, the actual division of the nation may look different than this.
How does the interaction of Google Hangouts with Joomla websites fit into the movement building process?
It is common to think that if you have one hundred people in your group, you need to set up a video conference call to invite all one hundred people to the meeting. Folks therefore dismiss Google Hangouts as an option because Google limits the number of participants to ten people (a limit that can be raised to 15 by clicking on a few buttons to get a free Google Apps EDU account). But the reality is that it is difficult to conduct or even watch an efficient meeting where more than ten people are presenting. A far better process is to have ten experts, guests or team leaders participate on a video conference “panel” with the person who arranged the video call acting as the host, moderator or facilitator of the video conference call. The rest of the group can watch on YouTube or on your website if you have one. Viewers can also email in questions for the panel and/or post questions and comments on a social media page or website forum page. The best option here is a website forum page where the questions and comments can automatically be organized by topic for later viewing by those who were not able to listen to the conference live. The video(s) can even be posted or embedded on several websites – each belonging to a different division of the bigger group and each ran by local leaders. This way a million people can be involved and relationships can be build within local communities even when discussing a nation event. After the main video conference, each of the ten team leaders or guests can turn into hosts and set up their own video conferences with up to ten more guests – either taped and posted to YouTube with Hangouts on Air – or through a simple Google Hangouts video conference which is not taped and therefore may allow more open discussion of ideas and/or problems. Then each of these guests can host their own video conferences with their local community.
All of these groups can then exchange information through the use of a coordinated series of Google Hangout recorded and non recorded video conferences. For example, one might have a national leader start a hangout video conference with a panel of three national leaders and six regional leaders as guest speakers – inviting everyone in the nation to watch the event. At the end of the national presentation, each of the six Regional Leaders can have Google Hangout hangout Regional video conferences with 8 to 9 State leaders recruited from those in various State who watched the national event. Parents and teachers in each region can be directed to a link to watch their own regional video conference.
The 8 to 9 State leaders can then hold their own State video conferences with a panel of county leaders who can then be trained to offer their own county video conferences who can then be trained to offer their own school district video conferences – with the goal that each State organization can help elect better leaders to the State legislature and each county and school district organization can help elect better leaders to each local school board. This is bottom up democracy in action and it is a tool that is now available to those willing to learn how to use it. I believe that parents and teachers concerned about the attack on their kids and their local tools will be willing to take the time to learn how to use this new, free and extremely powerful tool – as long as there is a clear and concise training manual that they can follow.
How Joomla can help structure a national movement
This will eventually require maintaining a lot of interlocking websites all coordinated by the national organization website database. This is where a well organized website management system and forum system like Joomla excel. The Joomla log in, menu structure and articles category structure can allow each state to have its own set of web pages and articles all organized under the national website with a single national registration and login process for all users and administrators. Each State and local organization could generate their own email lists and newsletters. The only limitation is that the organizational structure of the website categories and database divisions would need to be set up from the beginning.
Put another way, each State, County and local school district organization could have its own website, forum, email and newsletter service provided free of charge by the national organization as long as the foundation of the national website was structured to provide it.
What is next?
Hopefully, this article has convinced you to take the time to learn more about FreeCasting. You can either start at the beginning by going to College in the Clouds.org. Or if you want to get started in video conferencing and building your own YouTube channel, then check out our articles at createyourownvideochannel.org by clicking on the menu items at the top of this page.
Welcome to the future!