Who Am I? #CLMOOC Introduction

This week the 2016 version of the Connected Learning MOOC is starting.  Participants are encouraged to create a visual introduction, and share it with others on various social media platforms.

I first connected with this group in 2013 and repeated in the past two years.  I am constantly amazed by the energy and creativity that many participants show through the many different graphics, blogs, videos and “makes” they create and share (see the “make bank” on the CLMOOC web site). Frankly, I’m in awe.

As I’ve participated in the #clmooc, I’ve begun to share interactions in articles on this blog. Click this link and scroll through the articles.

So how will I introduce myself.  How’s this?

This concept map shows many of the places on the Internet where I share ideas and learn from others. While I started using the Internet in 1998, my networking, learning and idea sharing extends back to 1973 when I first became a volunteer tutor, working with a 4th grade inner city boy, named Leo.

Not knowing much about Leo, or tutoring and mentoring, I began to search out ideas from others. When I was named the leader of the volunteer program in 1975, I expanded my search for ideas by reaching out to others in Chicago who did this work, and by beginning to collect publications and newspaper stories that showed why tutoring/mentoring was needed, where it was most needed, and what programs already were operating, in Chicago or in other places.  In forming the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993, I dramatically expanded this outreach. By going on the Internet in 1998, I expanded my search to peers and models throughout the world.

As a one-on-one mentor, my universe was narrow. It included the boy I met each week, and a few other volunteers and students who I was meeting through my involvement in the program.  However, as I became the leader of the program, my universe expanded to include 100 pairs of elementary school youth and volunteers (400 pairs by 1992), plus company officials and staff, local school and Chicago Housing Authority leaders, and others who were resources for keeping the program operating. Once we converted the original Montgomery Ward based program to a non-profit in 1990, the range of influence expanded to increase donors and business partners.

In the role of leader (beginning in 1975) I began to realize that I could not do all that needed to be done by myself, and that I needed to recruit others to help me.  I needed to create a continuous, year-round, communications program that “influenced” others to become more involved. I needed to learn to “recruit and delegate” and ask people to “do more” than what they might have expected when they first became part of the tutoring program..

I also began to think visually, mapping the different skills, and networks, that I needed to influence, in order to have all of the talents needed to operate an effective program.

In forming the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993, with a goal of helping mentor-rich non-school programs grow in all high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago,  the range of people who needed to be involved has expanded dramatically, expanding to political leaders, business CEOs, media, celebrities, etc..  Not having much money to advertise and draw people together has meant I’ve needed to innovate other ways to communicate regularly, connect with people and build the network.  

I first used the constellation graphic in this September 2011 article. What it’s saying is that “as we journey through life, we create a gravitational pull that draws others to our ideas and to follow our example, and our lead.

For some this happens naturally. For others, their influence on others may be limited to the small circle of family, friends and co-workers. For me, and, I’m sure for many others, it’s an intentional process. Each day is a new opportunity to connect with someone who will change the world for myself, and for those I seek to help.

I embedded the constellation graphic in this concept map, showing places I was connecting with others, learning and sharing ideas. In the lower right portion of the map I point to several cMOOCs that I’ve been part of in recent years, including the #CLMOOC.  

I emphasize these because I feel the cMOOC format can be duplicated in the social sector in on-going efforts to connect more people from the “village” of adults and organizations who need to be consistently, and strategically, involved in on-going efforts intended to reduce poverty, inequality, racism and many of the other complex problems that we face in the US and the world.

I also feel that the educators who are the primary participants in the cMOOCs I’ve been part of can be engaging their students, as early as middle school, in roles that follow my own example and enable them to have a greater influence on others as they journey through their own lives.

Finally, I feel that some of the people who are organizing the MOOCs I’ve been following might provide the talent and manpower, and organizing ability, needed to help me bring this learning and networking forming into the work I’m doing.

So that’s my introduction.  

I hope others in the #CLMOOC will hack this, and create their own interpretations, as they have done in past years.