I’ve been participating in the Collaborative Curiosity: Designing Community Engaged Research (CEnR) MOOC hosted by VCU for the past few weeks. One of the many features I like is the Bloggregate, where participants are encouraged to share their ideas via blogs.
Everyone is encouraged to read each-other’s articles and post comments, which I’ve been doing. As I do this, I’m pointing to the web library that I’ve been creating since even before I started putting information on the Internet in 1998.
The web library is only one step, in a 4-part ongoing strategy, which I describe with this graphic .
Step 1, focuses on collecting, organizing and sharing information. It’s information that I can use, or that others can use, to solve a common problem. The first step in any problem solving process is, “What do I already know, and What more do I need to know questions.”
Knowing where to go to find more information is an essential skill to be learned. Finding people who have been aggregating information for 20-30 years can be a short cut to your own search for ideas.
When I launched the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 the mission was “to gather and organize all that is known about successful non-school tutoring/mentoring programs and apply that knowledge to expand the availability and enhance the effectiveness of these services to children throughout the Chicago region.”
I’ve often used the concept of the hospital operating room to illustrate the information gathering/sharing process. When the process starts there are one or two people on the operating floor, with a patient. As they begin the surgery, they draw on their own knowledge. If they run into a problem, they invite someone who’s in the gallery to join them, adding their own knowledge.
At some point they run into a problem that no one in the room has an answer for, and someone says “I know who has that. I’ll go get them.” Or someone says “That question has never come up. I will do research and find the answer, then I’ll bring it to this group.” Read more about this concept here.
It’s an on-going process.
While many sections of my web library provide resources that I think members of the CEnR group, and many others, would value, I’d like to focus attention on two.
1) A section with links to MOOCs and blogs on learning. I joined a Connected Learning MOOC in 2013 and have been building relationships with a few participants ever since. Here’s an article posted today by Terry Elliott, from Western Kentucky University. This MOOC repeats again, starting in July 2016.
2) A section with links to sites that focus on collaboration, visualization, knowledge management, innovation, etc. Last night I listened in on a Google Hangout organized by a group of educators whom I met from another past MOOC, and learned about a youth-led organization called IntegrateNYC4Me. The link I point to is just one of eight visualizations on the page that illustrate education disparities in New York City. I shared the link on Twitter with a group in Chicago that’s focusing on improving high schools. I think many could build similar visualizations, if they had the talent and resources to help them.
I added the IntegrateNYC4Me to my web library today so it’s now available to anyone who visits the site and looks in that section. Thus, it’s not only available to me today, it’s available to the world for as long as I can keep the web library on-line. That’s one reason I keep looking for a benefactor, or university partner, who would take ownership of my archives.
Several of the research projects described in the CEnR Bloggregate focus on complex problems that will require many people, many resources, and many years of consistent involvement and innovation to solve in one or more places. This concept map offers links to many data and visualization platforms that can serve as resources. This is part of my web library.
In the Google Hangout last night, youth from three different projects were on-line. At about the half-way point the conversation stalled. Then, the facilitator said “What do you all want to do?” Over the next 30 minutes you can see how the students began to talk about organizing, staying connected, sharing ideas and working together. Hopefully someone leads them to web libraries like mine.
Youth research projects are embedded in thousands of high schools and colleges around the world. Finding a web library that serves as an intersection where people from different projects can learn about each other would be a step toward innovating other ways each group could keep its students connected to the project they did research on, for a lifetime, not just a class time.
That intersection could be organized like one of the MOOCs I point to in my library.
Using visualizations to help people navigate these ideas and understand them easier is one strategy that I hope many will apply.