Wednesday, April 20, 2005

eLearning and Collaboration, day 3 in Tech Soup

For the past three days I've been co-hosting a discussion on elearning and collaboration in the portal. At the same time I've been networking via internet and face to face meetings with a variety of different people.

I told you about my Monday night dinner with affordable housing people. Last night I had the honor of meeting Dr. James Comer, of the Yale Child Study Center. Dr. Comer talked to me and about 100 other people about his vision of transforming the learning experience. He ended with a call to action. "We need a political movement" he said.

I attend these meetings to hear the speakers and for the networking. As I walked up to Dr. Comer at the start of the evening to buy his book, I recognized the lady sitting at the table with him. It turns out she has kids at the same elementary school in Park Ridge that my kids go to. I've seen her. We've never talked. Yet she's been involved with the Academic Development Institute for almost 20 years.

When I sat down for dinner and introduced myself, I found that I was sitting with half a table of leaders from the Center for Social and Emotional Learning at UIC. I get their newsletters and think they do great work. I've been trying to get them to share their knowledge via the T/MC conferences and to brainstorm ways people with their expertise could be part of every tutor/mentor program in the city. Up till now we'd made no headway. Maybe this networking will move us forward.

Last Saturday I attended the Kellogg Manager's Ball held at Navy Pier. Cabrini Connections was one of four charities to benefit from this year's Manager's Ball. More than 400 people attended and the silent auction goal was to raise more than $20,000.

In each of these networking events there were people with many talents who could be united as an army of compassion via the internet and elearning and collaboration. The organizers and speakers of these events could be using blogs, like this, to call on others to get involved. I suggested this to Dr. Comer and I also suggested this to Norman Rice, former Mayor of Seattle, on Monday .

If such leaders were posting their speeches on blogs or other web sites, we could link to them and they to us in ways that increase the number of people who are inspired by their words, and who use our maps and on-line learning to focus on neighborhoods where kids need more adult help to grow up and reach careers.

When I attend these networking events I see bright and powerful people who could be tutors, mentors, leaders, donors, advocates in an on-going campaign intended to change the support system for inner city kids. Such groups could hold business as accountable for their role in pulling kids to careers as business leaders want to hold teachers and parents accountable for their role of pushing kids to reach their potential.

However, I don't yet see a fundamental commitment to connect members of these events to each other and to other groups focused on the same cause, using elearning and e-collaboration technologies that are now affordable to most organizations.

When that happens we'll begin to see greater responsibility from more people and that will not only begin to solve some of our problems, but we'll reduce the need for big government to solve these problems for us.

What do you think? Post your comment or email me at

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