Thursday, September 11, 2008

Technology and eLearning - SVHATS 2.0

We started the new school year at Cabrini Connections this week, with orientations sessions for students and volunteers.

One of our goals is to teach students, volunteers, staff and leaders to use advancing networking, learning and collaboration tools in their daily interactions. The result of this is that students and volunteers will build learning habits that help them succeed in school, and compete more effectively for 21st century jobs.

One of our strategies is to use an on-line documentation system, (Student-Volunteer History and Tracking System) to document actions and encourage communications between students, volunteers and staff. While we created this system in 2003 and have been encouraging use since then, some of the communications features have never been working as well as we'd like because we have not had the manpower to upgrade the system.

This fall our eLearning and Technology Coordinator, Vjeko Hlede, has rebuilt SVHATS2.0 on a Moodle Platform. While this is for the Cabrini Connections community, I encourage other leaders of tutoring/mentoring programs in Chicago and beyond to review the system introduction.

SVHATS is just one way we support our students and volunteers and learn from their actions. Blogs written by staff and volunteers is another. These focus on different parts of what we do, and offer different perspectives than if there were just one instructor giving information to everyone.

Furthermore, Cabrini Connections is just one of hundreds of volunteer based tutoring and/or mentoring programs we support through our Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy. We maintain a database of hundreds of programs and an email list of more than 4,000 people. Each month we send information to everyone on the list that points to research on tutoring/mentoring, ideas being generated by different programs, and blogs and forums where people can connect and share ideas. Our aim is that other people help spread this information via their own technology. Here's an example.

Part of this points to the Student and Volunteer pages on the Cabrini Connections web site, and our Weekly News. We use this information to support our own students and volunteers. However, we believe that anyone in the world could operate their own program, and coach their own students and volunteers, using the information we provide each week to our own group. If you visit the Tutor/Mentor Institute, you'll find pdf essays that share our vision of a comprehensive, volunteer-based tutor/mentor program where the long term goal is that kids who start with us in elementary school our middle school, are still connected to the program, some of the volunteers, and each other, as they are looking for job interviews as a young adult.

Research shows that the community where you grow up has the greatest influence of your economic success in life. A tutor/mentor program like Cabrini Connections in a high poverty neighborhood changes the mix of adults and experiences that influence and support a youth's aspirations, and opportunities. Thus, if organizations in different parts of Chicago, or in different cities, want to create programs like Cabrini Connections, they can borrow liberally from the material on our web sites to design such programs, and to support their weekly efforts.

As you take that role, link to our sites and you'll provide a wider range of knowledge to your students, volunteers, staff and supporters. Participate in the conferences and forums we host, and we can share ideas and learn from you on a more consistent basis.

This is what Enterprise 2.0 and Web 2.0 are all about and if we can teach our teens to use these concepts, we can give them tools they can use throughout their lives.

1 comment:

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