Thursday, March 07, 2019

The Power of Virtual Community - Looking Back 14 Years

I launched this blog in April 2005, and below is the second article I wrote:

On Thursday I posted an email to a network of volunteers who have been working with the Tutor/Mentor Connection. This network has been growing for several years. I recognized that blogs could be a way to expand the community of people talking and sharing information about volunteer based tutoring/mentoring, as well as educating people to understand this as a form of workforce development. However, I did not have the time or tech knowledge to set up a blog.

Within 2 days one of my volunteers responded and set up this blog. You can see the message I sent, that generated this response, in this April 9th blog article, which was my first post in 2005.

This demonstrates the power of the Internet to create a virtual community of people dedicated to the same cause. As I learn more about how to add features to this page I'll add links to other blogs where people who also care about helping kids from poverty to careers are using their blog to generate ideas and actions that lead to the increase of volunteer based tutor/mentor programs where they are needed and the increase in the ability of these programs to connect kids with workplace volunteers, vocational education, jobs and careers.

I hope you'll visit the and web sites and learn more about our work, learn about the resources available to help you get involved with tutoring/mentoring, and ways you too can become a virtual volunteer.

Together, we can build a better operating system for helping kids move through school and into jobs and careers.

From #clmooc March reading
When I wrote this 2005 article, I already had a commitment to e-Learning goals, expressed in this page on my web site, and in this Tutor/Mentor Learning Network presentation.

So now it's 2019 and if you look back on the more than 1200 articles that I've written, you'll see a growing commitment to the idea expressed in the graphic at the left.

This graphic is from a book titled "Affinity Online: How Connections and Shared Interest Fuel Learning" which I'm reading along with a network of Connected Learning educators.  I'm reading it here.  Kevin Hodgson, a teacher from Massachusetts, outlined several other places you can read and talk about it, in this blog article

Reach all kids, in all areas
The yellow middle of this graphic (which I added as a form of annotation) represents a space of common interest, where people from many different places can connect and share ideas related to that interest.  My efforts since the 1970s have been reflected in the graphic at the right, and dozens more like it from past articles on this blog.  I'm trying to connect people from many places who will talk about ways to make high quality non-school learning programs available in all high poverty areas of Chicago and other cities, and keep them available and well-staffed, so each has a growing impact on helping kids from poverty, through school and into adult lives.

For that to happen more people need to join together in that yellow space, to share their own ideas for what works, what does not work, what challenges need to be overcome, and what ideas might work to overcome those challenges.

How do we do better every year?
I created this graphic to express that goal a different way, asking "How can we do this better?" and showing that people from many different sectors need to be in the conversation.

To me, the only place that's possible is on the Internet.

It's the only place where an unlimited number of people from within an area like the Chicago region, or a country as large and diverse as the USA, or a world with many problems in many places, can connect, share ideas, learn, and keep coming back, over, and over, for many years.

That does not mean that people don't still get together for one-on-one conversations, group meetings, conferences, and things like that. It just suggests that the real, on-going engagement, connecting enough people to make a difference solving some of the complex problems we face, has to involve internet connections and on-line affinity groups.

Learning requires personal effort.

What we're talking about is "learning".  Personal learning. That means you spend time, by yourself, reading some of the things people are pointing to when you're at a conference, or in an on-line group.

I write this article in 2012, talking about heroes and introverts. People get good at something because they spend thousands of hours practicing. It stands to reason that the solutions you bring to complex problems get better as your explore more ideas and learn from more people.  That's the habit I think we need to help kids develop from an early age, then sustain through a lifetime.

Connected Learning recap
I point to the Connected Learning network because it's a model of what's possible, having started in 2013 and still going strong in 2019.  I documented some of my past connections with the #clmooc group in this article, while also showing my goal of pulling people from that network and other networks into conversations that focus on issues I've been writing about since 2005.

Using the tags on the left side of this article, you can scroll through many similar articles that I've posted, about #clmooc, and about many other topics that are part of what we need to know in order to fill every high poverty area in any region with a full range of birth-to-work supports for kids and families.

I hope you'll take a look.

These on-line groups are free to join. So, what are you waiting for.  I'm on Twitter @tutormentorteam. Let's connect.

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