Tutor/Mentor Connection

Connect knowledge, volunteers, youth and make a difference.

Observations

Hello everybody, my name is Rack Hyu, the new intern from Korea. I will be writing my learnings, feelings, suggestions and a lot of other things through this blog from now on. Today, I would like to write some of my observations I have made surfing around T/MC related blogs and sites during the past couple of days.

Before actually working here, I didn’t really know what kind of work I would be doing here. I was just told that this place was a non-profit organization giving education to kids who are having a hard time affording it. Therefore, I thought I was going to do some tutoring work or work similar to that.

At the first day of the internship, I was told to surf around the blogs and sites related to Tutor Mentor Connection and learn what this is all about. What I found out is that, one of the main job T/MC does is that they provide information to people which part of Chicago (or other places) has a lot of poverty and need support by a map. They inform this to get volunteers and donors to support in those areas. The people who are willing to volunteer could also use the information to discover which places are needed for support.

While surfing through the T/MC sites, I made up some suggestions that I thought it would be better fixed. The suggestions are listed below.

1) There are a lot of contents built by volunteers and interns inside the T/MC site. Although some contents are easy to access, some contents are very hard to get and some useful contents have no link at all or hard to find the links. The map gallery for example (http://www.horizonmapping.net/projects/tmc/tmc_gallery/Tutor_Mentor...) has a lot of map information. There is also an interactive map built in, but at the first glance of the gallery, it is hard to know whether there is an interactive map or not. (You have to follow the path : map gallery -> Navigate to a specific map -> Interactive ; to reach the interactive map) The fact that there is an interactive map should be informed, (since I think is quite important) and the link should be easy to reach otherwise first time users won’t be able to use this content.

2) A lot of information are distributed, and are needed to be integrated. There are three official sites (that I think they are official), and need a lot of navigation to find information. Here are the three sites.
http://www.tutormentorexchange.net/
http://www.cabriniconnections.net/
http://www.tutormentorconnection.org/
The problem is, there are information that one site of the site has, and the other site doesn’t have. Therefore it takes more time to gather information then necessary, and this will be uncomfortable for users that won’t like spending a lot of time.

There are a few more suggestions to talk about but because of the time, I will continue writing tomorrow.

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Replies to This Discussion

Thanks for the observations.

We intentionally separate Cabrini Connections from Tutor/Mentor Connection because if we focused too much attention on our own program in the T/MC site, the other programs in the city might get the idea that the T/MC is really only intended to support the program we operate. That would cause people to be less interested in working with us.

Thus, in the T/MC we try to tell the story of tutoring/mentoring by showing how other people do it, with Cabrini Connections just one of many programs that need volunteers and donors on a consistent basis.

There is a lot of information, and it's constantly being upgraded. We've used concept maps to diagram the information and how it is linked, but this also is another level of complexity. While we work to make the sites easier to use, we're also working in a couple of other areas

a) the more motivated people are to find and use the information on the site, because of their personal involvement with kids, or self interest, the more they will be willing to browse the site and bookmark sections with information of interest

b) we share this information freely with goals that groups from colleges, businesses, faith groups, in any part of the world will volunteer time to help maintain the quality of the information on the site, and help people find and use what they are looking for, when they are looking for it. If we can build in this type of facilitation it will overcome a lot of the challenges of creating navigation paths.

In the end, the information is complex and it focuses on complex social problems. The first time someone comes to the site we want them to browse, just like they might a shopping mall, or a library. The more often they visit, the more they will learn how to navigate to the sections most important to them.

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