I attended a Research Symposium yesterday in the Chicago area, hosted by the Illinois Mentoring Partnership. While it was an opportunity to gather some ideas on research taking place in the mentoring field, it was also a chance to re-connect with people who I’ve met in the past, who work at universities that I’ve reached out to for over 20 years, in an effort to mobilize talent to support the growth of volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and other cities.

In the  past I’ve often created concept maps, similar to the one below, showing people I’ve met at conferences, with a goal of helping them connect with each other.  See this link to view several of these maps.


I hosted Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conferences in Chicago every six months from May 1994 to May 2015, with the goal of bring people from the sector together to learn from each other and build relationships and collaborations that might overcome challenges we all face. At the same time these events were intended to develop news stories that  built greater public attention and support for programs located in different parts of Chicago.

I hosted these at various universities, Museums, and other anchor institutions, partly with the goal of recruiting leaders from these institutions to support the four-part Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy that I launched in 1993. Last year a volunteer from IUPUI in Indianapolis, who I first stated connecting with in 2000, created this map  showing participant organizations from each of the conferences I  hosted since 1994.


If you scroll through the list of conferences, you can see what universities were represented. You can see other maps showing participation, at this link.

This is one way to look at event participation and try to connect members to each other. In 2010 interns and volunteers from Chicago universities looked at data from 2008 and 2009 conferences and created a series of blog articles showing participation, using a social network analysis software.


You can see the articles here.

As I attended the summit yesterday I shared some reflections using the hashtag #ilmentoring. I was disappointed that I seemed to be the only participant doing that.

I also tried to stay connected to participants in the on-line cMOOC titled Collaborative Curiosity: Designing Community-Engaged Research, which I joined on Monday, using the hashtag #CurousCoLab  If you search either of these hashtags on Twitter you can find a thread of comments.

If you visit this blog article, you can see where I’m sharing some ideas for mapping participation in Twitter and facebook chats, using a free NodeXL software.

I’ve been attempting to use many forms of visualization since 1994, but have been limited because of my own lack of tech skills, and by my inability to find funding and/or talent to do this work consistently, and as well as it needs to be done.

UniversityTMCIn the Tutor/Mentor Blog I’ve written many articles encouraging universities to adopt the Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy, such as this one, as research/action projects, or as part of their own strategic commitment to diversity, or to improving community wealth and well-being in neighborhoods and cities where they operate.

Thus, any of the researchers I met yesterday, or who I meet on line, could be using some of the same tools I’m showing here to connect more people with their research and each other. They could be writing blog articles like this. They could be connecting on MOOCs.

Instead of me doing this mapping and data analysis, teams from different universities in Chicago and other cities could be doing the work, as part of their own learning and commitment to community. And they could be connecting and sharing what they are doing, why and how, with others using cMOOC formats such as the ones I’ve been following for the past few years, which I point to in this section of my web library.

While I’ll spend the next few days sending follow up email to the people I met this week, my hope is that they, along with others I’m connecting with on-line, will take some time to read this and investigate what I’m doing and how they might become involved.

step2-mina One strategy to do that is to recruit one or two students to do the investigation, then create a presentation that shows what they are learning, just as interns have been doing with me since 2006.  This graphic is one of many that can be seen on this page.

I coach that process on this Ning page.

As one person I spoke with yesterday said, “I see teaching, learning, research and public awareness opportunities.”  

I hope others, in Chicago, or in other cities, see the same opportunities, but since I’ve been delivering this invitation for 20 years, I’m keeping my fingers crossed.