If you browse articles on the Tutor/Mentor blog, you’ll see that I focus on helping fill big city neighborhoods with non-school tutoring, mentoring and learning programs. I show a four-step strategy that starts with collecting information about the program, then focuses on attracting more people to look at the information, add their own ideas, and take part in finding solutions.

Let’s see how that process applies to other problems. Below is a Tweet with four maps showing how drug use has become a crisis across the USA in the past 25 years. I included this in an article on the Mappingforjustice blog

While the Wall Street Journal article provides a load of information, where can we find more information to help us understand the problem, its root cause (why do people turn to drugs, etc.?) and potential solutions?  In the Wall Street Journal article, police departments are shown to be overwhelmed by this problem, with too few resources, and too few solutions.

If you look at this map, and this map, which show two parts of the Tutor/Mentor web library, and click on the links, you’ll see that I’ve aggregated hundreds of links to web sites that provide a deeper understanding of why tutor/mentor programs are needed and where in big cities they are needed most, and I’ve provide links pointing to resources program leaders could use to build and sustain high quality tutor/mentor programs in more places.

Below is another concept map, that serves as a blueprint leaders in big cities might use to build a birth-to-work pipeline support system. For each age level the spokes show different resources and supports that need to be available in the life of a child in order for him/her to move more successfully, and safely, to the next level, and on to high school graduation, post high school education, and a job/career.

mentoring-to-career2015Thus, I’m suggesting that people who focus on the drug crisis should not only have GIS maps showing where it is most severe, but should also have concept maps and graphics showing the types of organizations and services that need to be involved in providing solutions..in every community where the problem is severe.

Getting people together to talk about this involves an on-going process of invitation and facilitation. It also involves doing some research to figure out who needs to be involved. This talent map and this network map could be used as a worksheet to help organizers think about who needs to be involved in this solution-building process.

The map below illustrates how maps might be used to show who’s coming together in meetings, conferences, and on-line events that focus on this problem. Note the use of different icons to illustrate different categories. You can easily see that there are too few from philanthropy, business, and many other sectors. See this and similar maps, here.


So groups who are gathering people together to focus on the drug crisis could be using maps to help them understand who is participating, and who still needs to be involved.

Let’s shift gears and apply this to public education and online learning.

I’ve been part of a Connected Learning MOOC (#clmooc) each year since 2013, which has educators from throughout the US and the world connecting in a G+ community, and other social media spaces, to share ideas about learning and teaching. Below is the map from the 2016 CLMOOC


Below is the map from an Innovators Mindset MOOC, also attracting educators from around the world.


In both maps I showed a world view, in which you can see a lot of icons representing people from different parts of the United States.  I also show enlargements of the Midwest, featuring Chicago, where I live, but also showing St. Louis, Detroit, Milwaukee and Indianapolis.

What the map shows is that too few people from big cities with high poverty, high violence, and high rates of drug use, are participating in these on-line learning opportunities.

This is not just a challenge for event organizers. It’s a challenge for education and political leaders in these cities.

Now, it’s certainly possible that there are other online learning events where education leaders and non-school program leaders are gathering, which may have a map that shows participation. If that’s happening, I invite someone to share a link to the map and I’ll put the JPG into a revised version of this article.

It’s also possible that there are on-line communities where people who are dealing with the drug crisis, in rural, small town, small city and big city America, are gathering.  If they have a participation map, let’s see it.

The participation map is just one tool for evaluating and building participation. I encourage you to visit the links to the #clmooc and #IMMOOC above and take a deep look at how they are organized, how people participate and what type of relationships are being built.

It’s the process I am encouraging people to adopt, not just the maps.

I’ve been part of other MOOCs where participation maps are being used. Here’s a link to a section of my web library where you can find some.  If you’d like to recommend additional links, just post them in the comment section below.

I’ve applied these ideas in Chicago since 1994, with far too little support, to try to support the growth of a wide range of youth programs that connect people from many different sectors in a collective effort intended to help more kids move through school and into lives out of poverty. While I write these articles seeking new support in Chicago, this strategy can be duplicated in any city with the same problems, or in other sectors, such as combating drug use in America.

As that happens, cMOOCs can be a format for sharing what works across many cities, states and countries, so we all get better every year.

The graphic at the top of this article illustrates one way to try to connect people who I am networking with to each other. This is another part of the strategy.