Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Connected Learning. Collective Action.

How do we turn a participation map into a “collective impact” map?

I’m one more than 1600 people who have joined the Education Technology Mooc (#ETMOOC) since last Monday. I’ll be participating in the National Mentoring Summit in Washington, DC this Thursday and Friday where more than 500 people will be connected in the same building and for the same purpose.

This article aims to tie the two events together.

I have participated in several ETMOOC events since last Monday, including a session Sunday morning hosted by Dave Cormier, one of the first people to use the term MOOC. Visit this page to find the recording of Dave’s session, along with additional links to his ideas.

As part of the #ETMOOC, participants have written more than 850 blog articles and posted over 1000 Tweets. Most of these have focused on how MOOCs enable personal learning and introduce members and their ideas to each other. You can follow what you want. You can spend as much time reading blogs and taking part in live sessions as you want. You can share your own ideas and you can interact with others. Each participant controls their own learning experience. You can follow some of the blogs at this link.

I’m interested in going beyond personal learning. My goal is to help build and sustain networks that use their learning, and the network, to innovate new ways to solve complex problems.

The ETMOOC network analysis map shows “who’s involved” based on history of participation. If you’ve followed previous articles on this blog you can see how I’ve been trying to map participation in Tutor/Mentor Conferences, the Ning group, and my Facebook and Linked in groups.

You’ll see how I focus on actions that grow the network, while growing the composition of the network at the same time. If we agree that It Takes a Village to Raise a Child, we need to get the business community strategically involved.

With this post I hope stimulates a couple of different streams of thought.

1) How do we connect people participating in MOOCs with places where they become volunteers, donors, leaders who work together to solve complex social problems?

2) How do we know if people from all sectors – e.g. business, philanthropy, government, community, religion, youth, etc. – are participating in our MOOCs or community of practice?

When I started the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 I could have just focused on sharing ideas I had developed since 1975 when I first started leading a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in Chicago. However, I did something different. I made a commitment to try to collect, organize and share experiences of others involved in this work. My goal was to collect “all that was known” about volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring, where such programs are needed, why they are needed, what it takes for them to have long term impact, how to support them, how to connect business and philanthropy to them, etc. This represents a vast library of knowledge and literally millions of people.

I’ve used Concept Maps to diagram my strategies, and the sections of my library. The diagram below shows the research section of the Tutor/Mentor Connection links library.

If you click on any of the nodes you’ll go to a specific section of the web library which points to a variety of web sites with information related to that topic. Many of the web sites I point to have similar lists of web sites they point to. The collective knowledge that this represents is constantly expanding.

Every time I’m in a conversation, conference, or MOOC, I add sites I’m interested in to the library, which makes them immediately available to anyone else who visits the site. There’s an entire section of links in the Library to Knowledge Management articles, which is what I’m doing.

I realize I’ll never have “all that is known” but with 2000+ links, the library offers a massive pool of content for that could support a variety of MOOCs

By participating in ETMOOC and events like the Mentor Summit I hope to connect with others who will help with this process. I hope to find partners who will help organize future “tutor/mentor” MOOCs that draw people from the many different sites in my library into an on-line community that offers all of the personal learning and relationship building values that Dave Comier is describing in his presentation.

I hope to focus on strategies and actions that make mentor-rich programs available in more of the neighborhoods where they are most needed.

As that is happening, network analysis can show who’s participating and geographic maps can show what parts of the geography are represented. Such maps could demonstrate the growth of the network over a period of years, while enabling people from different sections of the library and/or different parts of the country or a big city like Chicago, to connect more easily with each other.

In one of the ETMOOC blogs I read last week the author told of how he feels others do a much better job of communicating ideas than he does. Then one day someone said “gee that’s really unique”.

I think others can communicate what I’m describing far better than I can. That’s one role interns have been taking. You can see some of their work here.

I hope that through the MOOCs and conferences I attend I’ll not only find people who share the same vision and strategy, but who will use their talent to help communicate these ideas in more creative, thoughtful and meaningful ways.

I’ll write more about this tomorrow before I head to the airport. I think this post is long enough already.

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