Tutor/Mentor Connection

Connect knowledge, volunteers, youth and make a difference.

Our goal from this project will be to use SNA software provided by Valdis Krebs to map T/MC networks, showing the connections between us, and people we know, and mapping the connections they have, to people we need to know if we are to succeed in our mission.

While our database is huge, over 12000 entries, I think that the way to start on this project, and get familiar with the software, is to map small networks. For instance, I'm part of a list serve of mentoring researchers, started by David DuBois, who I met via Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and the T/MC conferences. We could map that network and its connections.

We could also map each conference, then connect all of the conferences. We've hosted 32 since 1994. We could map the programs in the database, and show which of them have come to the conferences.

This list will grow as we do work with the software and learn its capacities. Add your own ideas and suggestions. Point to web links that illustrate the result of these maps, if you can find samples.

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Replies to This Discussion

I've been thinking a lot about the social networking project. It is a really fascinating way to track the relationships that people and organizations have. This has a lot of potential on two very distinct levels. By tracking social networks of students, especially from the time they enter the tutoring/mentoring programs to the time they graduate, it will demonstrate the extreme need these students have for support, as well as the support that they can gain through these programs. I really like that this is a visual representation because it makes it so simple to understand. When talking to Dan last Wednesday, he showed me two simple networks, that of what one would presume to be a student growing up with a strong support network and a student growing up in a high-risk area. The difference is astounding, even for the students with extra support through mentoring programs.

On a second level, Dan was telling me about creating social networks for communities involved in mentoring and other support services. This sounds like a huge, but potentially really dynamic project. By creating obvious links between organizations, it will help to streamline services and help organizations to work together, rather than to compete. I truly believe that for this to be very effective, it needs to be backed by a database that can provide more detailed information, including contact info, about the organizations to make it simple for people trying to use this to connect with others in real life.
Hi Katie,

I'm excited about this potential too. Jonathan (from Loyola) contacted me last week and we're going to meet Tuesday morning. He's an Intern from Loyola University who will be working hands on with the SNA software and the database. Any help that you can add to this project, either directly by how you help with the technology or database, or in-directly by how you help frame the type of projects we do with SNA, or how you help us find other volunteers as we learn what we don't know, or what resources we don't have, will be greatly appreciated.
Dan,

I would really like to get to get involved hands-on in this project. I'm sorry it took several days to get back to you. I really enjoyed tutoring last week, but I think that I'd also really like to contribute to this directly with the technology/database. I think that will really help in understanding the types of projects that we can do with it, and what type of further resources could be useful. I'm also trying to figure out a good way to 'market' Tutor/Mentor Connections to Dominican students, I think there are some people there that might be very interested in some of the projects you have going on.
Katie, Thank you for expressing this potential and the excitement I have in using Social Network Analysis.

Have you introduced yourself to Jonathan, the Intern from Loyola who is beginning to work with the software donated by Valdis Krebs. Valdis is available to come to Chicago on Friday, Feb. 26 for a training. Can you participate? Jonathan, can you fit that in your schedule? Are there other interns from Loyola, or Dominican, who might want to learn to use this software and work as a team to tease out these visions we have for how it is used?
Dan, I should be able to go Friday morning for training, but will have to be at work at noon. This also depends on a schedule I have yet to receive from a second job I have, but the morning should be open.
Dan,

Unfortunately, I cannot make the training. I am trying to reach out to Dominican's community to find other people that are interested. The email includes your contact information, so hopefully you will hear from someone. Let me know if there are any other ways I can contribute, or maybe I could learn the program at some other date.
Hi Katie,

I understand from El that you've been coming to weekly tutoring. That's good. It will give us time to keep talking while you are building stronger understanding and ties to the kids and the program. Each week you're here, you have a new story to share with people you know. If you use the blog on this Ning as a journal, and link it to your Facebook and Twitter, many other people will begin to understand us through what you write.

At the same time, as you recognize people who might be interested, such as at Dominican, sending them email, or making direct contact, will ultimately lead one or more to get involved.

Finally, I want to keep meeting with you, and talking with you here, so you can add your ideas to what we're doing with the network analysis, and add your time, and talent, where ever it fits. I think that as we learn inFlow software, we're going to need people who pull data from different places, such as our OHATS system, into Excel spread sheets. Then it will need to be coded or cleaned up before it can be fed into the SNA software.

That will only be the beginning. We will need to tease out visual maps of our network, and then try to make sense of what the maps are showing, via essays and articles we write on blogs and other forums.

I think there will be many ways, and growing ways, where you'll be able to help us do this.
This is one example of work we might do using SNA tools. When a student joins a tutor/mentor program, we could create a map of his/her network. Every couple of years we might update that. It should show that he/she is connected to a broader range of people because of the tutor/mentor program. If we're also teaching him how to access this network, understand it, and use it to find information, or help with work or jobs, then this demonstrates a value of tutor/mentor programs that might result in more consistent donor investment.

This shows another potential use of SNA tools. We can map the different groups on the ning site, and the members in each group. Maybe we can show who recruited some of these people, thus how their network connections led to those people joining this site.

Dan,

I think it would be really interesting to also see how people are recruited. It (potentially) could help to form strategies for recruiting based on patterns that seem to be occurring.

I'm really glad to hear that people from Dominican have gotten in touch with you! I hope that we/they can contribute to the project. In regards to myself, I can't make it to tutoring tonight, but I can next week and wouldn't mind coming about a half hour early to talk to you some more. Let me know if that will work.

Katie
If you can come this week at 5:30pm that would be good.
Dan, I will definitely be there then. See you Wed.!

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