Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Bringing Youth Tutor/Mentor Learning Ecosystem Together on the Internet

This screenshot is from a Tweet posted a few days ago, showing how more than 300 people from around the world have been connected to each other since February 10 via an on-line "Engagement in a time of Polarization" EdX course and via Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. The hashtag is #EngageMOOC

I've been participating in various cMOOCs since 2011 and wrote about them here, here and here.

I'm fascinated by their potential for bringing people together in ways that's not possible face-to-face. I've wanted to build this capacity into the Tutor/Mentor Connection for more than 15 years. 

I and six other volunteers created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 to "gather and organize all that is known about successful non-school tutoring/mentoring programs and apply that knowledge to expand the availability and enhance the effectiveness of these services to children throughout the Chicago region."

It's 2018. I'm still leading that effort, via the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC

1998 Crain's Chicago Business

I'd been leading a tutor/mentor program in Chicago since 1975 when we formed the T/MC. So I already had an extensive database of other programs in Chicago, as well as of foundations, businesses, volunteers and media. We did our research and planning, and developed a 4-part strategy in 1993. Then, we launched our first Chicago tutor/mentor program survey in January 1994 to systematically learn who else was offering non-school tutor and/or mentor services.

As we started reaching out to learn about programs we began sharing what we were learning with other programs, and with resource providers and other stakeholders, via printed newsletters. We began drawing stakeholders together to share and learn from each other via organized conferences in May 1994 and started organizing an annual Aug/Sept Chicagoland Tutor/Mentor Volunteer Recruitment Campaign in 1995.  You can view the goals of the conference here. See recruitment campaign history here.

We began sharing our list of Chicago tutor/mentor programs in a printed directory in 1994, but never circulated more than 500 copies a year. As we put our library on line in 1998, we also put our list of programs on line.

In 2004 we were able to launch an on-line portal where people could search for information about Chicago area tutor and mentor programs by zip code, type of program and age group served. In 2008 we launched a map based version of this.

With the maps we could show all the places where programs were needed, as well as what places already had service from existing programs.  Thus, our conversations were focused on a) helping existing programs get a more consistent flow of resources needed to constantly improve, while b) helping new program start where more are needed, borrowing ideas from existing programs, rather than starting from scratch.

The conferences and annual recruiting events we organized helped us generate a flow of print news stories, drawing attention to tutor/mentor programs throughout Chicago, not just to our own program. While we stopped our printed newsletter in 2002 we've been sending email newsletters every month since 2000. With our maps we crated map-stories following negative news, in an effort to draw more attention and resources to neighborhoods where help was needed.

While we hosted Tutor/Mentor conferences for 20 years, the goals never changed.

However, we were only reaching a small fraction of those in Chicago who needed to be involved in building and sustaining mentor-rich programs in all high poverty neighborhoods.  And even when we had 250 to 300 people at a 2-day conference, we and every other participant could only really talk and engage with a few other participants. Even in small groups of 10 to 20 people only a few people were able to share much from their own depth of experiences. It was almost impossible to get all of those who need to be involved into the same space, and keep them coming back, month after month and year after year.

In addition, we were not getting participation from business, foundations, media, political leaders and many others who need to be engaged in efforts to fill city neighborhoods with great programs helping kids move safely from birth to work.

Thus when the Internet became available as an on-line library and meeting place in the late 1990s, I fully embraced this potential.  We held our first on-line conference in 2004 with the aid of IUPUI in Indianapolis.  I've been sharing information on web sites since 1998 and on blogs since 2005. I've been on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn since the late 2000s.

I outlined our eLearning goals in 2004 and you can read them here.  I described them again in this blog article (and many others)

In 2011 I created a "Mentoring Kids to Careers" discussion outline on Debategraph's platform (see graphic at left).

As I participate in cMOOCs, I look at the structure and how they are organized. I created a sub section of the Tutor/Mentor library that others can  use to learn about cMOOCs and that I can refer back to when describing them to others. As I share ideas on Twitter, using the #engageMOOC or the #clmooc hashtag, I'm also using #tutor #mentor to connect organizations I network with to people throughout the world.

As I do this I'm also envisioning an #engageTutorMentorMOOC or a #Tutor/MentorCLMOOC or a Tutor/Mentor Google+ community (similar to this CLMOOC group)  where we're connecting all those who need to be involved in building and sustaining constantly improving tutor, mentor and learning programs in on-going on-line learning, conversation, brainstorming, training and resource development.

What does this mean?
Talent needed

I've used cMaps to visualize "all who need to be involved".  This map shows skills and talents. A similar map shows networks that need to be involved. A social network analysis map of participation could put names of people in each of these nodes and help us understand "who is participating, and who's missing".

Another cMap visualizes "who needs to be involved" under the "It takes a village" heading.

In another cMap I show how information we were collected was intended to support the learning of many different groups of stakeholders.

Knowledge Flow cMap

Ultimately my goal is that people from different sectors and different places are forming study and learning groups which draw from information libraries they find on line. While these groups engage in on-going face-to-face learning, they also engage in on-line conversations, with each other, and with people in other groups, expanding their  understanding of problems and solutions and building relationships with people who who might help...

....all with the goal of filling high poverty areas with needed programs and services that help kids move safely through school and into adult lives, jobs and careers  (see strategy map).

As I was writing this article my #engageMOOC feed included the response shown below response to one of my Tweets.

I was asking for examples of using network analysis tools to understand participation in conferences or organized Twitter events.  The links provided pointed to two fascinating articles on the #ScotPublicHealth blog.  Click the links. You can read the articles yourself.  I'm adding this link to the Tutor/Mentor web library so that I and others who want to build an on-line engagement connecting people and organizations in the youth development, tutor, mentor, education, etc. ecosystem, can learn from this model.

However, by putting the link in my library and posting it here and re-tweeting it, anyone else can find and use this information to do better work in their own problem solving efforts.

If you've read this far, thank you! I hope you'll visit some of the links and build your own understanding of the different cMOOCs  and Twitter chats I've pointed to.  I hope you understand how this supports my own on-going learning and efforts to do "better today than I was able to do yesterday". 

I don't yet see this type of on-line engagement connecting the ecosystem of youth tutor/mentor and learning programs and the businesses, foundations, policy makers and others who need to support the growth of such programs.

If you'd like to help make such a community a reality, let's connect.


Vanessa Vaile said...

Can you add engagemooc to your post tags/labels? I'm trying to save/sub by rss to tagged blog collections. Your blog is already in my reader, but with an engagemooc label I can subscribe just these to the course folder instead of tagging them manually.

Tutor Mentor Connections said...

Thanks for following. I've added EngageMOOC to my tags. Hope it helps you and others find and share what's on my blog.