Building the Network. Who’s Here. Who’s Not Here?

Just read a post by Kevin Hodgson, a 6th grade teacher from Western Mass, who I have come to know over the past four years by my participation in the Connected Learning MOOC.

In his post Kevin included this Storify, showing a conversation from a Twitter Chat held in July 2016.

This type of conversation needs to be taking place in many sectors, including the youth development, tutoring, mentoring and non-school program sector. It needs to include volunteers, educators, youth (and alumni), parents, donors, evaluators, business partners and policy makers, not just program staff and leaders.

Where do you start?

In Kevin’s article, and in the Twitter chat, we talked about what the organizers could do to expand participation.  In Tutor/Mentor Conferences I  organized from 1994-2015 we talked about what  programs can do to actively recruit volunteers.

However, I am focusing on turning this around. I became part of the #CLMOOC in 2013 after participating earlier in an Education Technology and Media MOOC, and a Deeper Learning MOOC. I found announcements for these as I followed my Twitter and social media feeds, and was curious enough to visit the web site, see what they were doing, and click the “join” button.

From that point on, it was a matter of listening, commenting and building relationships.  Sheri Edwards, another educator, who I met in the #CLMOOC, posted this article, showing ways for people to get started in on-line learning networks.

She said “Everyone starts somewhere. Just start”.

Thus, the group grows as members reach out to friends, or through their social media networks, and invite others to join in.

I created this graphic in the 1990s to show how volunteers involved in tutor/mentor programs could be inviting people they know to visit our web sites and get information and ideas that they could discuss in small groups of friends, co-workers, faith group members, etc.

Now these discussions can also be held in organized MOOCs, using Twitter chats, Google and Skype hangouts, Facebook, Google+ and many other types of platforms.

As that happens, maps can capture participation information and support analysis and discussions of “Who’s here and Who’s Missing.”

As a result future maps will fill in with larger participation from more of the different groups who might contribute ideas, solutions, and even resources.