Friday, February 27, 2009

Creating Public Interest in Race, Poverty, Education issues

I attended a forum this morning hosted by Voices for Illinois Children in which the 2009 Illinois Kids Count Report was distributed. The focus of this year's report was the growing gaps between rich and poor and good schools and poorly performing schools in Illinois. The statistics can be seen in the report. They are appalling. I've seen them before.

The focus of today's symposium, and this year's Kids Count is to go beyond traditional thinking to innovate new ways to help kids get through school and into adult lives. A variety of panel members spoke. Judy Erwin, of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, was part of the morning panel, and she said "we need to look at a continuum of learning; we need to get out of our silos".

I agree. The graphic on this page represents some of the different silos that need to be connected in a learning process that focuses adults on the type of reports that are produced by Illinois Kids Count, and which you can read in the T/MC links library. We need an adult learning process, that builds public and private sector investment in solutions to this complex problem.

I created the graphic above using a concept map tool and I've had it on my site for a while. It means something to me, but maybe not to most people. Thus, I was pleased this week to have two graduate students from the University of Michigan School of Information spend their spring break with my organization in Chicago. They decided to animate this village map, in order to help people better understand the idea behind it. You can view their project here. You can meet Malhar Gupta and Garima Garg and read more about their work on this project in the T/MC Ning page.

I could not have created this animation on my own. But I've been reaching out to graduate schools to help me convert my ideas into animation, and this year was the second year we've had students from the University of Michigan work with us.

We actually had a third student this week, and I'll write about his project next week. You can meet our technology interns on line and if you like what you see and want to get your university involved, just introduce yourself on the site.

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