Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Making Sense of Info. Using it to solve problems.

One of the first things most people say after talking to me, or visiting my web sites is "there's a lot of information!" Some are really saying "too much" information. That's not the way I see it.

Instead I see a constantly expanding wealth of information that young people and adults can learn from over a lifetime in efforts to reduce poverty in the US and the world. The map below shows the different sections of my library. The actual link is here. So how do I see this?
My library points to people from around the world who are brighter than me, better writers, and better able to visualize ideas. By hosting links to these ideas in the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC library, I make these ideas available to anyone who visits my site and browses the links.

I created this explanation of the four-part Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC strategy yesterday in preparation for an on-line discussion scheduled for April 15.

The first part focuses on aggregating information. The second part focuses on advertising and network building, intending to increase the number who view this information. The third part focuses on facilitating and helping people understand and use this information.

A few months ago I pointed to some blog articles written by Vance Stevens, where he introduced the idea of MOOCs (Massive Online Organized Curriculum). Today I read an article by Steven Downes, which shows the potential and challenges of MOOCs.

I'm trying to take this a step, maybe many steps, further.

First, by aggregating information about non-school tutor/mentor programs in Chicago I'm inviting others to help make sense of this information. By using maps to show all poverty areas in the region, and concept maps to visualize ideas and strategies, I'm trying to focus people on strategies that build the entire system of supports, not just a few good programs in a few places. How many programs are there? What is the availability of programs in different poverty neighborhoods, based on type of program, age group served, size, etc? How do programs differ from each other? What do they have in common? What are their challenges?

How can a collective effort including business, faith groups, political leaders, etc. help overcome the challenges and make more and better programs available in more places?

Second, I'm trying to find people who will help bring people in Chicago and the world together in a MOOC focused on building a shared understanding of the information represented by the 2000+ links in my library. Instead of focusing on reading, writing, math that we want kids to learn I'm focusing on problem solving skills and knowledge that young people and adults can use throughout their lives to close the gaps between rich and poor in Chicago and other cities.

Finally, I'm trying to find people who are already doing this who want to add me to their team, and people with the talent needed to do this 'sense-making' and organize a MOOC along with other forms of mentoring and learning. In the book titled The StarFish and the Spider, decentralized organizations were described, along with platforms that enabled millions of people to connect with each other.

Many people need to be owners and contributors to this process, not just me. Many places can be hosting these ideas, not just my web site. As long as we are connected in one, or many, systems of navigation, learners can find their way through the library and find places to support their own learning and problem solving.

As a result of better understanding of poverty and how other people are working in different parts of the world to close the gaps, along with a better understanding of the revenue systems that need to support on-going efforts in many places, more people will begin to use the maps and information library available through platforms like the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator, to search out places where they can offer time, talent, dollars, and their own growing knowledge. That's the fourth step in the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC strategy.

Over the past 20 years I've done much work to build the platform, aggregate information, and build a network of people and ideas. Over the next 10 years I hope to find investors, benefactors, partners who will turn this into a MOOC and a constantly expanding network of people and organizations working in many ways to help share these ideas.

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