Tuesday, November 25, 2008

TMC Conference - potential for eLearning

The Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference (November 21st, at the Field Museum) assembled over 100 tutor/mentor experts and enthusiasts. It was a day full of intensive, interesting discussions, workshops and lessons about mentoring, managing nonprofit mentoring organizations and utilizing technologies :).

You know those timeless questions: Quality control, marketing, networking, designing students’ activities, digital natives (net generation) vs. digital immigrants, and of course, budget... we can not forget the budget. All of that was discussed throughout the Conference. Some workshops have become real brainstorming sessions. Unfortunately I was not able to participate in all of them, so I will describe just the most interesting ones that I participated in.

Panel discussion How to incorporate arts, writing and technology into a volunteer based mentoring program was almost ‘how to do it’ tutorial. Panelist Robbie Telfer (Young Chicago Authors, www.youngchicagoauthors.org), Mindy Feber (Open Youth Networks, www.openyouthnetworks.org) and Patrick Shaffner (826 CHI, www.826chi.org) presented very interesting and dynamic activities they are providing for their students.

For example Young Chicago Authors use ‘real world simulations’. One of them is: students are collaboratively writing a story for a journal. However, there is an ‘invisible evil editor’ who is constantly sending their story back for improvements. At the end, when they are almost certain that the story is good enough, the invisible editor sends a message that they need actually 30 stories, and the deadline is in 35 minutes. Panic… you can fill the tension in the air… How? We do not have time! Should we quit… Is there a solution?
Well, let’s make 30 different endings. Each student should make his own ending of the story. At the end of this dynamic game, they had 30 different stories, each student had experienced collaborative writing, individual writing, they felt a few real world challenges (team work, roles, boos, deadlines, quality control) and they had great fun. Those are great results for one evening. Right?

Idea. In their situation ‘the evil editor’ is a person who is behind a black curtains and they can see only her/his hand when s/he is receiving the article. In our situation (Cabrini Connections), the editor can be in his office (in NY or in the same room – who knows) and communicating with writers through the internet.

Workshop Nuts and Bolts of the Juvenile Justice System. Mrs. Elizabeth Clarke (Juvenile Justice Initiative, www.jjustice.org) presented the challenges that are confronting the Illinois Juvenile Justice System. You can find out more at www.jjustice.org. I will just mention a few interesting facts I heard during the workshops. Illinois is one of 12 states where minors (kids under 18 years old) can be tried as adults . And the USA is the only country in the world where kids can be tried as adults… The majority of minors that end under adult court jurisdiction are there because of nonviolent crimes.

Kids do stupid thing sometimes, and although those ‘stupid things’ are not something we should always tolerate, we should know that if we incarcerate a 17 years old kid – there is almost a 50% chance that s/he will become a professional criminal. Scary, right? That explain why states (and countries) that do not have juvenile prisons and do not send minors to adult courts have much lower juvenile crime rate than those who do. Find more at www.jjustice.org.

Workshop Social networking: who do you know and how can they help you? Marian Casey (www.answersforspecialkids.org) and Allison Youngblood (www.jlchicago.org) lead an interesting and very interactive workshop. How to network? Ways to network? Should we use technology or is face to face communication OK? Which technologies?… Those were just a few of the issues we discussed. This video summarizes the most important topics of this Workshop. So, please, turn on your speakers and enjoy the following 2 minute video presentation.

How do you build your network?

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