Friday, July 22, 2016

A Quick Look at Connected Learning

I started connecting and learning on-line in the late 1990s and took part in my first eConference in 2003 or 2004.  I posted this eLearning strategy on my web site about then, and it's still a strategy I firmly believe in.

I started taking part in MOOCs in 2010 and learned that there is a distinction between MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) and cMOOC that focuses on connecting many people and their ideas, with each other, through the structure of an open, on-line course. Click the links in this section of my library and build  your own understanding.

I joined the Connected Learning MOOC in 2013 and have participated each year since. If you browse their web site you'll see many forms of engagement. One is the weekly Twitter chat.  Below you can see a Storfy summation of last night's chat, created by Kevin Hogdson, a middle school teacher from Western Massachusetts.

If you look at my mission statement, and many of the articles and photos on my blog, you'll see my goal of helping strong, constantly improving, volunteer-based non-school tutoring, mentoring and learning programs grow in all high poverty neighborhoods of a city.

Wow. That's a long, wordy description.  Maybe a picture will help?

Here's one that I created in the 1990s to visualize what a "mentor rich" program might look like.  I describe this in more detail in this PDF presentation.

Notice the map in the lower left corner. You can find many stories using maps, on this blog, on the MappingforJustice blog, and on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site.  By creating a map with indicators, like high poverty, we focus attention on all of the neighborhoods where talent, dollars, ideas, etc. are needed, for many years. Without the map, funding and attention goes mostly to high profile organizations and/or neighborhoods.  If President Bush had used maps consistently with "No Child Left Behind" perhaps fewer kids would still be left behind in 2016.

So far I've not seen maps used for this purpose by any of the four contenders for the 2016 Presidential election. It's not too late.

Notice the arrows on the graphic, connecting the spokes with the hub of the wheel. This represents the "service learning" loop that takes place every time a volunteer connects with a youth in an on-going tutor/mentor program.  See more in this animation.

If a volunteer is well-supported as he approaches his weekly tutor/mentor service, he will be more effective, more satisfied, and more likely to stay involved longer.  If she is well supported as she returns to her work place, family, church, mosque etc, she will do more to educate others and encourage their own involvement.

This is a growth strategy for youth tutoring, mentoring and anti-poverty programs.

However, I don't see enough of this happening. I point to the #CLMOOC and other MOOCs regularly on this blog, and in my social media spaces, because they are a model for connecting people with each other, on an on-going basis, and in on-line space.

This does not replace face-to-face gatherings. It just recognizes the difficulty of keeping large numbers of concerned people together on an on-going basis. It also recognizes the difficulty of every member sharing his/her ideas when the group is larger than 4 or 5 people.

I feel that on-line communities, with designs similar to these cMOOCs should be embedded in each spoke of the wheel shown above, connecting volunteers, donors, leaders, from each sector of business and the "village" with each other and with ideas that show what works, what's not working, and what others are doing to make it work better.....which could be duplicated by other groups in the same city, or in different cities.

Such communities should include youth, parents, teachers, researchers, program leaders, board members, etc.  

This graphic was created by an intern from South Korea several years ago, while she was an intern with the Tutor/Mentor Connection in Chicago. It's one of many visualizations you can find here and here, created between 2006 and 2014.

I share what's happening in the #CLMOOC so others will take a look, get involved, learn from people I'm learning from, and then begin to duplicate this process in more sectors, with a focus on the issues I focus on, or with a focus on other issues, that are equally important.

If you're already hosting cMOOCs focused on poverty, youth development, tutoring/mentoring, philanthropy, etc, share your link below. Let's connect.  

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