Friday, December 28, 2018

A Journey into the Past; A Hope for the Future

I hope you've all enjoyed your holidays so far and that the New Year will be full of  good health, hope, happiness and peace on Earth for all.

In this article I'm going to share a journey I've taken with the Connected Learning Community (#clmooc) over the past two weeks, and the past five  years.

I hope you'll follow along and dig into the links.

The image above is the first page of a slide show I created this week. The image below is page two. It shows my goal of connecting leaders, staff, volunteers, donors, alumni, researchers, media and others in an on-line community similar in practice to the #clmooc community.
Just before Christmas I saw a post on Twitter from Terry Elliott, who I've followed for the past five years.  As I do often, I clicked on the link and went to Terry's blog to see what he was writing about.
The slide below shows one section from Terry's blog, and illustrates a common feature of the #clmooc community. Terry has embedded a Tweet posted by Kevin Hodgson, another member, who is a 6th grade teacher from Western Massachusetts. Kevin frequently embeds videos, music and cartoon graphics into his articles and his Tweets. 

Moving further down on Terry's blog you'll find the section I'm showing below.  One reason I visit Terry's blogs is that he's constantly showing ways to use different digital tools. Here he's created a video to show the Internet Archive, then he's sharing the annotated version that he posted on Vialogues.  I circled my comment, where I said "Your post on Twitter got my attention and led me to your blog, then to the video."  It's also part of what prompted me to create this blog article!
After reading through Terry's blog I went back and opened the link to Kevin's blog. The slide below shows the top part of the article. Along the right side you can see topics of articles Kevin has posted recently. This is a feature of most blogs, which makes each of them an archive for learners. 

The slide below shows the first part of what I found as I started reading Kevin's blog article. He starts out, writing "About six years ago, in 2012, my friend, Anna Smith, and I had a conversation. A chat about Digital Writing. Through digital writing. With meta-explanations of how we write digitally, pulling back the veils on our process notes. Others, like Terry, joined in. We wove this all together, somewhat through our blogs and through the National Writing Project’s Digital Is site, and curated the conversation through a site called Jog the Web."

He followed with a paragraph, pointing to a blog by Anna Smith (#1), which I opened and read. In the comments section Anna responded and suggested creating a collaborative blog article with Kevin.  Then (#2) he responded in  his own blog showing how Anna and Terry's articles had motivated him to start digging through the web archives of a writing activity he'd done with Anna.

Below is a slide showing just part of what Kevin included on the rest of this article.  He used a combination of videos and cartoons to not only show what he was finding, but to walk through the process of building the archive.  He also issued an invitation for others to join in, which is a common feature of the #clmooc group that I really welcome.

So, I did. I spent a few days trying to think of how I'd point to archives of my interactions with #clmooc, and how I'd relate this to my goals of having other people look at my web sites and strategy presentations, the way interns had been doing, which would lead to new (and better) versions reaching more people in more places.

This is what I created. Open this link and then follow from left to right. In each node there is a small box at the bottom, which includes web links to all of the articles I've mentioned so far in this article.
I intended to create a video to walk people through this journey, and created these slides as visual aids. Unfortunately the screen recorder I'm using (or my mic) is not working properly and the audio is really bad. Thus, I've created this blog article.

This is the upper left section of the map, containing links to information I wrote about above.

In this section of the cMap I show how I've archived my 40 year involvement with youth tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and the formation of the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993. I also show my digital learning life, and point to some email and blog articles from the late 1990s and mid 2000s that illustrate my involvement.

Then, I used this section to point to some of the #clmooc articles I've posted on this blog since 2013.  While many of these point to interactions I've had with Kevin and Terry, there are many other educators in this community whom I've enjoyed connecting with and learning from.  The blogs I point to on this cMap are just a few of more than 100 articles I've written that point to #clmooc, MOOCs or similar on-line learning communities.  You can find these if you scroll through the tags on the left side of this blog.

The next part of the map points to some of the work done by interns who worked with me from 2006 to 2015.  Their work is a model of what I hope educators from #clmooc and other communities will do. 

One thing you'll see very quickly if you start reading blogs by #clmooc members is that they all are better writers than I am, and far more knowledgeable and creative in using video, music, animation and other digital tools. 

That's what inspires me. What if people with far more talent than I have are creating articles with the same ideas and messages that I've been trying to communicate for the past 25 years? Could we have greater impact if this were the work of hundreds, or thousands of people?  Yes. I believe so.

The final part of the map, in the lower left, points to some things people might investigate, such as the "Our Kids" book by Robert Putnam, or the "Uncharitable" book by Dan Pallotta. 

I hope you've taken time to read this. It's a form of engagement and learning that anyone can be part of. It just requires a personal commitment to spend time reading, watching and engaging.  It's a dynamic process, in that everyone is adding new content every day. You can join at any time. Do as much, or as little, as you want, or have time for.

I normally put hyperlinks in my blog articles pointing to the web sites and blogs I'm talking about. I did not do that here. Instead, I hope you'll open the concept map, then open the links under each node, which are the sites I've referred to.

If someone wants to create a video narration of this, please do.  If you can suggest other easy-to-use, high quality, FREE, screen capture sites, that would help, too.

Thank you to those who have already send contributions to my BirthdayFundMe campaign or my EndofYearFundMe campaign. This blog is part of what you're helping keep alive with your contributions.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Your Help Needed

I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) in 1993 to help volunteer-based tutor and/or mentor programs grow in all high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago. While I led this under a non-profit structure until 2011, I've led it through the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC since then.

I've never had consistent funding to do all I was trying to do, and resources have been more difficult to find in recent years, yet, if you read articles on this blog, you'll see what I'm doing.

Below is a concept map showing milestones over the past 25 years. I keep drawing from this experience to try to help versions of the Tutor/Mentor Connection grow in other cities, helping build systems of support for economically disadvantaged youth in more places.

1992 to present milestones of T/MC

Here'as a link to my holiday appeal letter, and here's a direct link to my FUND ME page. Your help keeps my voice and ideas available in 2019 and beyond.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Happy Holidays to All

I'm being a bit creative today. Below is a holiday greetings made from a montage of cards my parents received between 1950 and 1992. Instead of one card, I bring you holiday greetings from many cards.

Below that is a GIF I made to draw attention to a learning activity going on now, involving #clmooc educators from around the world, who are looking backward at work done in past years, while looking forward to ways they can use digital writing to communicate ideas. The hashtag is #MoDigiWri.

I created the GIF below as part of a project I'm doing that points to my past connections with #clmooc, and their work, and ways what they do could be duplicated by others.


I'll have my project on line in about a week, but you can dig into the links above and join this activity.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Thanks for Birthday Greetings - Help Build the Network

Yesterday more than 90 people posted "Happy Birthday" greetings to me on Facebook and other social media.  I responded to many with thanks and a few other comments, but also began to build a list with the goal of creating a group message, which I posted today. See it here.

I included the image below:

Dan Bassill Facebook Connections - 2012 see pdf

This is one page from a 2012 presentation (click here) that shows different groups of people whom I am connected to on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter.  The major clusters are my extended family, with members spread on East and West Coasts, as well as Chicago area.  Also my Illinois Wesleyan University Acacia Fraternity network, which also has members spread around the country.  It includes connections to former students and volunteers from the Tutor/Mentor programs I led between 1975 and 1993 (which I joined as a volunteer in 1973).  It also includes people I've met as a result of the work the Tutor/Mentor Connection has done since 1993 and the conferences I hosted from 1994-2015.  Finally it includes a growing network of people who I've met on line in idea sharing communities.  Since this is from 2012 the composition of the network would be much larger today, 2018.

Most of the people in different parts of my network don't interact with people in other parts of the network. Heck, some from within clusters, like my extended family, don't know people from other parts of the family tree.

Yet, we all are living in a world with many problems that we can't solve working alone or in small groups.

I could have chosen a number of different graphics to communicate the idea I'm trying to share.  Do a Google search for "tutor mentor network building" then look at the images. You'll see many with this same idea.

Each of the people who sent me birthday wishes could be reading my blog articles and simply sharing them with their own networks, using social media.  That's what Tramaine Ford, a former Cabrini Connections student, did with this FB post.

Or, they could look deeper, then create new versions of the articles, and new ways to share the ideas, using video, animation, long or short form writing, etc.

We all are part of many networks. The problems we face in the world cannot be solved by one person, or small groups, working alone. Finding ways to connect people in your network with information and ideas, and with each other, is one solution.

This ENOUGH graphic is an example. I started this in 2007 and an intern from South Korea created this graphic and an animated version a few years later. I put it on video last year.  Click this link and see several articles where I've used this.

Apply these ideas in 2019 and when it's time for my birthday again in December 2019, bring your network and tell me how you've used these ideas.

Thanks to those who have given birthday gifts. I'm still seeking help. Please read my appeal letter and add your support. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Help Me Celebrate 72nd Birthday

It's my 72nd birthday on December 19. I'm also celebrating the 25th anniversary of creating the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) in 1993.

I invite readers to help me celebrate, and keep the T/MC vision alive with a gift to my Birthday Fund

Thank you for your help.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Can you Help Me Help Youth In Chicago and Other Cities?

Below is text and images from a letter I've just mailed to people who  have made financial contributions to support this blog and the work I have been doing for the past 25 years. I hope you'll read and respond.

Happy Holidays, from Dan Bassill and Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC .. Dec. 2018

Dear Friend of Youth,

It's the Holiday Season and I hope you and your family will enjoy all of the blessings that this season brings to many, but not all people in America.

This is the 25th Year Anniversary of forming the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993. In 2011 I created the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC to keep this available in Chicago and to try to help similar models grow in other cities. I've been sending you updates, asking for your support, in the seven years since then.

Once again I am reaching out to people who have supported my efforts to help K-12 youth in high poverty areas of Chicago and every other city in the country have access to well organized, mentor-rich programs. In the photos above, I keep saying “Read my Blog”. The address is

My aim is to provide ideas that others use to build systems of support for kids in poverty, and to serve as a model that you and others duplicate, telling the same stories, to people in your own network, expanding the number of people looking at these ideas and using them to build strategic support for k-12 youth.

For 35 years I led a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program, so developed a deep commitment to the potential of well-organized, mentor-rich programs. When we created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 the goal was to build a database of existing Chicago programs and a library of information and ideas, then find innovative ways to draw more frequent attention to tutor/mentor programs as a way to help kids and a way to get more people involved. Borrowing from my work in advertising with Montgomery Ward, the goal was to draw more customers (volunteers, donors, media, etc.) directly to each program in the Chicago region.

I had no idea of how difficult this would be, yet I persist with the commitment of “If it is to be, it is up to me..and YOU!

The graphic at the right is similar to many that you'll find in my blog. It shows my role as an intermediary connecting people who can help to an information base, including a list of Chicago youth programs in places where help is needed. This is part of a four-part strategy that I launched in 1993 and still follow today.

Ever since starting the T/MC in 1993 it's been difficult helping others understand what it has been trying to do. Part of the challenge is that philanthropy encourages competition among non-profits. Few work together to generate the resources that would help great programs grow in more places. In addition, few in leadership roles have ever taken the time to build a database of programs and then use it in on-going efforts intended to help every program get the resources each needs to be successful...the way that corporations support multiple stores reaching customers in many locations.

That's why I keep repeating "Read my Blogs!" If you read the articles consistently, you'll understand what I'm trying to do, and you might help find others who want to bring these strategies into their own leadership efforts.

I'm celebrating a 25th Anniversary this year. With your help in the next few weeks, I'll still be doing this in 2019

We all want a world where all kids grow up safely and reach their full potential. In a huge city like Chicago that means people with different skills and resources need to be working together at three levels:

1. at the organization level, supporting different youth serving organizations;
2. neighborhood level, making sure programs are reaching all the kids who need help; and
3. at the city/regional level, making sure ALL high poverty neighborhoods have great programs.

Getting people involved in shaping and sharing this message is just one of many challenges. The concept map at the left is part of a library of visualizations that I've created since 2005. You can view it at

This map shows that poverty has many entry points, many challenges. That means that people who are donating time, talent or dollars are working in many different, but often disconnected, efforts. The competition for resources at every level is fierce, meaning consistent long-term solutions are difficult to find in many places.

During the past year I've continued to add new links to the web library at and continue to maintain a list of Chicago area non-school tutor/mentor programs at I've also continued posting strategy ideas on and, which I then point to in my blog articles.

I spend time each day sharing these ideas in social media channels and trying to connect with people from Chicago and around the world who might use these ideas to help needed programs and services grow in all places where kids need help moving through school and into adult lives.

I continue to offer free advice to any who request it, while also looking for ways to earn income from sharing what I know. I still have not figured how to make that work. Nor have I found 3 or 4 people who would share the vision, and responsibility, and form a new non-profit Tutor/Mentor Connection. Thus, I continue to look for contributors who will help fund my efforts. I'm still not able to offer you a tax deduction, since I don't have a non-profit status.

There are two ways for you to offer financial support.

1) Make a birthday gift. I'll be 72 on December 19th and invite you to make a “Birthday Gift” contribution using the PayPal button at

2) Make a 25th Year Anniversary Contribution to my FUND-ME campaign. click here

If you cannot make a contribution, please read my blog articles and share them with others.

If you use Twitter, Facebook or Linked in, please connect with me, which helps people in your network find the information I'm sharing.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to support this work in the past.

If you'd like to talk to me, email me at tutormentor2 at earthlink dot net to arrange a time to talk by phone, ZOOM or in person.

Happy Holidays to you and your family,

Daniel F. Bassill, D.H.L.
Tutor/Mentor Connection, 1993-present
Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, 2011-present

Mail contributions to Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, c/o Dan Bassill, 932 N. Salem Ave, Arlington Heights, IL 60004

Find me at:

Connect with me on Twitter @tutormentorteam and on Facebook  (click this link to see nice video of my past year, created by FB)

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Can we imagine a future without traditional schools?

Last week I stumbled upon a Twitter chat which includes school superintendents from the Chicago area. I added the hashtags #suptchat and #k12prchat to my hashtag map, with the goal of going back this weekend to review all of the posts.

I'm glad I did. I'm not through my review but found this post:

I followed the link  and read this article, titled "School’s Out: Who Takes Responsibility for the Education of Young People?"

The article uses words to visualize an idea that I've used graphics to communicate. What I was seeing in my mind was the graphic at the top of the visualization shown below.  It shows the community of people surrounding kids as the grow up and lead their adult lives.  The spokes lead to different work/life experiences which offer different forms of learning and career opportunities.

In the lower part of this graphic I show a map of Chicago, with poverty areas highlighted. To the left of this is a circle, representing "all the knowledge in the world" that is available to young people and adults.  To the left of that circle and in the smaller circles below, I visualize the idea of gathering people together to discuss this information, and to learn how such learning is less available to kids in high poverty areas due to the lower diversity of people with different types of jobs, careers and incomes.

Thus, the goal of the discussion is to find ways to make this type of a learning environment more available throughout Chicagoland, Illinois, the USA and the world, so that at some point you could look at maps and see a distribution of mentor-rich learning opportunities distributed like Christmas lights on a tree. Hopefully, no spaces are left uncovered.

This is one of many articles where I show uses of maps.

Total Quality Mentoring (TQM) 
I first created this graphic in the 1990s to visualize the type of non-school tutor/mentor program I had led in Chicago since 1975 and to show a program design that others might duplicate.

At this link you can see this idea in more detail.

Below is another Tweet from the #suptchat thread.  Twitter chats enable people from schools, non-school organizations and all sectors to engage in conversations that focus on the well-being of youth, families, our communities and the world.

We just need to find ways to draw more people, from more places into these conversations.  That's why I've encouraged people hosting events and chats to create participation maps, like the one shown below, which is for the 2017 #clmooc, connected learning group.

With participation maps we help people connect with each other. We also enable a conversation of "who's here, and who's missing".  For instance, if you zoom into this map, you'll find few people from the Chicago region and other metros, which serve large numbers of low-income kids.  The data can encourage discussions of why, and what can we do about it.

The #CLMOOC group has been going since 2013 and their web site is a rich archive of ideas for helping people connect and learn from each other. Here's an activity from 2016 under the heading of "What if we Cultivate Connections and Strengthen our Networks",

To me, this is part of the learning that is available to those who spend time connecting and looking for ideas.

That's what I have been doing since I started leading a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in Chicago in 1975.  Initially, I built a library of books and tutoring ideas and encouraged volunteers to use this to support their own work with kids.

In 1993 when I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection, I began expanding this library, while also building a list of Chicago non-school tutor and/or mentor programs. Then I shared this with others, via a quarterly print newsletter, and bi-annual conferences.

In 1998 I launched the Tutor/Mentor Connection web site, and in 1999 the Tutor/Mentor Institute web site. Both enabled visitors to connect with a wide range of information, ideas, program models, philanthropy resources, and more.

I'm still doing this, but without a non-profit organizational structure or reliable revenue stream. Thus, I share this FUND ME campaign page, inviting any who have read this far to make a contribution to support this work.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Exceeded Word Limit on LinkedIn - Here's my question

I posted this map, and started writing a message in the Non-Profit Network Group on LinkedIn, and when I was ready to hit "send" found that I had vastly exceeded the word limit.  So, I'm posting the question here.

I've been piloting uses of maps to support the growth of volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in high poverty areas of Chicago for the past 20 years. Here's a recent blog article where you can learn more about this.

A map can show demographic information, or indicators, visualizing where a service is needed. Overlays can show existing service providers within the map area. If someone is collecting the data, this can be shown in layers, such as age group served, type of program, etc. I've been trying to do this since 1993. See the search page we built in 2004.

Using this, leaders in the map area could be building an understanding of the level of service available from this type of program. For instance, in the map I've attached one Chicago community area has 7127 kids, age 6-17, below the poverty level. If an afterschool tutor/mentor program served 100 kids, that neighborhood would still need about 35 of these programs, just to reach 50% of the kids in that area. (Most tutor/mentor programs do not serve that many kids.)

Just building a flow of resources, talent and ideas to help existing programs grow is a challenge, so helping additional programs grow represents an even larger challenge. This is especially true since most of the existing programs are competing with each other for scarce resources.

That's an introduction. 

Are any of you involved in this type of planning and program development process in your communities? If yes, can you point to blogs like mine where the process is being described and supported? It's never been supported in Chicago, and I've found few examples of maps being used as part of an effort to reach more kids with needed services, in any city. I look forward to hearing from any who might be doing this.