Mapping the post-2015 development debate – join in!

A guest post from the ever inspiring Joe Mitchell – cross-posted from Joe’s blog

“The post-2015 development agenda debate is generating a lot of words on what should follow the popular Millennium Development Goals (or MDGs) come 2015, which is the point at which they were supposed to have been met. There are hundreds of international meetings going on, as well as global and national consultations, plenty of think-tank reports, op-eds and news coverage.

But for someone who’s interested in the discussion – and how decisions are being taken – it’s hard to keep up with what’s going on. So, inspired by an earlier effort by Jan Goossenaerts, I’ve started a new graph of the debate. It tries to bring disparate strands of the debate together in one place.

This is just a start. There is a vast amount of information missing. I’ve mainly based it so far on stories from my twitter timeline – there are many more voices out there, particularly in developing countries.

I have so far only mentioned a few specific goal suggestions – those made in Save the Children’s recent report. There must be more to add. And although it does seem like there will be a new set of goals (perhaps up to 2030), there is still room for a debate as to whether goals are the right tactic for improving global outcomes, or whether there are other ways of approaching the agenda.

There is also much to be discussed in terms of delivery and accountability. If the world isn’t going to meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, what’s to say any new goals will be met?

So join in. Anyone can edit the graph above. DebateGraph is a fantastic tool, which allows many layers of debate, critique and argumentation. Give it a go: sign up, navigate back to the post2015 map and start adding material, links, or refining what’s already there.”

Helping Kids in Poverty Find Work

Debategraph connected recently with Dan Bassill, founder and president of the Tutor/Mentor Institute LLC and the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

Dan has been working with inner-city youth in Chicago for more than 36 years and also had a 17 year career in corporate advertising with the historic Montgomery Ward Corporation.

Drawing on his advertising experience, Dan began to address the challenge of helping kids in poverty from a business innovation and marketing perspective, rather than social work or youth education perspective.

In the guest blog below, Dan reflects on some of the lessons learned and challenges ahead, and invites you add your voice to the conversation on the Helping kids born in poverty start jobs and careers Debategraph:

I believe that there are four concurrent strategies that could be applied in every major city in the world as part of a set of collective on-going actions to help reduce the costs of poverty in each city.

(1) Knowledge aggregation and visualization: The Tutor/Mentor Institute has been collecting information since 1993, showing where volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs are needed, why they are needed, what different programs do, and why business, philanthropy and others should support the growth of such programs as a strategy for expanding social capital surrounding youth in high poverty neighborhoods of large cities like Chicago, New York, and London. Aggregating and sharing the accumulated knowledge and insights can help the whole community to make faster and more effective progress – and save people from having to “reinvent the wheel” each time a new initiative starts. Using interactive sites like Debategraph, new ideas can be added to the library on an on-going basis, and embedded on the websites of any stakeholder organization around the world – allowing others to discover and build on innovative local solutions to poverty, poorly performing schools, drop out programs and workforce development that have already been implemented elsewhere.

The Tutor/Mentor Institute has also been experimenting with interactive geographical maps that can be used to locate tutor/mentor programs in specific parts of Chicago, and to determine the level of program availability in all parts of the city; making it easy for parents, volunteers and donors, as well as corporate leaders, city planners, marketers and policy makers to connect with the programs.

(2) Increasing public awareness: getting information is just the first challenge, getting millions of people to look at this information and use it in their own actions, is a bigger challenge. While I was working at Montgomery Ward our weekly ads drew shoppers to more than 400 stores, across 40 US states. Since no non-profit has the type of advertising budgets that large corporations have, we have to find creative and engaging ways to draw attention to tutoring/mentoring and the information hosted by the Tutor/Mentor Institute and others. One strategy for creating public awareness has been to organize events such as Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conferences, held every May and November since 1994. Such events draw 100-150 leaders and stakeholders together in Chicago but create much larger visibility during the months building up to the event. Forums like Debategraph enable the Tutor/Mentor Connection to connect its ideas to people in cities all over the world and to build on the contacts and dialogue between the conferences.

(3) Creating learning circles. Facilitating understanding: The amount of information is overwhelming. That’s an obstacle that can be overcome if volunteers are recruited to help others navigate and learn to use the resources of the library. The Tutor/Mentor Institute focuses on structured, volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs as a core part of its strategy because of the way such programs connect volunteers from the business community and who live beyond poverty with youth who do live in poverty. An organized tutor/mentor program can be a collective effort of many extra people working to help kids grow up. As volunteers stay with youth for one or more years many begin to bond and take on roles similar to “surrogate parents”. Such people become advocates and do much more to help the kids, and the tutor/mentor programs they are part of. Over time such people can become full-time advocates for expanded strategies to help poor kids to careers.

As we aggregate more and more information and increase the number of people who engage with the Tutor/Mentor Institute web sites, there also needs to be a process of facilitation, where people who know more about the information available in the knowledge base help others find and understand the information. In Chicago Interns have been writing blog articles and creating visualizations to help build understanding of this information. If you would be interested in volunteering as intern or discussion leader online, please let me know.

(4) Accelerating the flow of resources: The first three steps create a positive feedback loop as more people begin to use their time, talent and resources to support one or more tutor/mentor programs and, in turn, draw more people and resources into the movement in cities around the world. The information we share can be used by anyone, and the way we innovate public awareness strategies to motivate people to look at this information regularly, and to motivate people to act as volunteers and donors, can sustain this effort for many years into the future.

This not something that was created by the Mayor, the President or funded by a massive government or private foundation grant. The ideas in the Tutor/Mentor Institute were developed over a period of 35 years in response to what we learned as we struggled each year to find resources to operate one single small tutor/mentor program in Chicago. We have demonstrated the potential of the Internet, where people who “don’t have power, don’t have celebrity standing, and are not the elected leaders of a region can put their own ideas for building a better world on the Internet and invite others to join with them in making those ideas a reality.

It’s an idea in tune with our times: and if the idea of helping kids in poverty find work appeals to you, you are welcome to join us.

Controlling Persistent Infectious Diseases

The first in a quick series of posts to catch-up on some of our projects in 2011 so far.

At the start of March 2011 I was privileged to map a 5-Day workshop on “Modelling and analysis of options for controlling persistent infectious diseases” at the Banff International Research Station for Mathematical Discovery and Innovation; part of the breathtakingly beautiful Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada.


The workshop gathered 40 leading mathematical modellers, infectious disease researchers, clinicians and public health officials from around the world to explore the past and future contribution of the mathematical modelling to public health policy, the priorities for future research, and potential ways to enhance the relationship between the research community and public health officials.

Debategraph was used throughout the five-day workshop to the map the live discussions and to facilitate the group dialogue around the key points arising – with group members contributing directly to the map as the workshop proceeded.

The map resulting from the discussions – which the group is continuing to develop beyond the workshop – is embedded below:

Debategraph honored as one of the AASL’s Best Websites for Teaching and Learning

Peter and I were delighted to discover last week that Debategraph has been named as one of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) Best Websites for Teaching and Learning 2010.

AASL Best Websites for Teaching & Learning

The award honors the top twenty-five Internet sites for enhancing learning and curriculum development and for fostering the qualities of innovation, creativity, active participation and collaboration, with the chosen sites identified as the “best of the best” by the AASL.

It’s a particular joy for us to see Debategraph recognized in the company of sites that we love using ourselves, such as TED, Creative Commons, Prezi and Evernote, and to discover marvellous new sites among the awardees that are fast becoming favorites too.

The full list of awardees is available here, along with the individual citations accompanying the award for each site.

…and, finally, a big thank you to the AASL’s Best List task force, to everyone who nominated us and, most importantly, to the Debategraph community for all your support and inspiration.

Cross-posted at: Open to Persuasion

CNN, Amanpour and Debategraph

As you may have spotted already, the collaboration between Amanpour and Debategraph launched on CNN last night, with Christiane’s new live global program featuring interviews with the Secretary General of Nato and the Prime Minister of Spain.

If you missed lat night’s episode, it’s available via Podcast here.

Debategraph’s working with Amanpour’s production team and viewers to create debate maps around the interviews and global issues addressed in the programs – and to provide a forum for non-linear, interactive and cumulative debate to complement the program’s thought-provoking analysis and interviews with the global leaders confronting those issues.

Christiane’s aims for the program “to offer multiple perspectives… and serve as the hub for a global community of inquiring minds, hungry for a more daring perspective and a strong, clear, thoughtful take on international stories” emphasize the resonance between our mutual approaches and the reason why Peter and I are delighted to be collaborating with Amanpour’s New York based production team.

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“I want this show to stir the global conscience. I have witnessed so much that it’s time to start making real sense of it all”


 
The program airs on Monday to Thursday at 2100 CET, with a round-up of the best of the week on Fridays on CNN International and Sundays on CNN in the United States – and tonight’s show features interviews with Tony Blair, Terje Roed-Larsen (UN Middle East Envoy), Dan Meridor (Israeli Intelligence Minister), and Saeb Erakat (Chief Palestinian Negotiator).

In conjunction with the launch of program, Peter and I have released a new interface for Debategraph (which will also feature  in the forthcoming WAVE climate change project for the European Commission). More on both later — but for now here’s a quick video introduction to the new Debategraph Stream interface:

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Debategraph in the Classroom

When Peter and I first set out to create Debategraph, one of our fondest hopes was that the tool might help to enrich the collaborative and visual learning experience for students in schools and universities.

So it has been a joy for us this semester to be experimenting with Debategraph in classroom with Dr Sharon Chanley and her politics students at Western Illinois University—and we are tremendously grateful to Sharon and the students for having the curiosity and courage to innovate in this way.

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 Dr Sharon Chanley and the students of POLS 275

Sharon’s class is exploring issues of poverty and wealth inequality in the U.S. and the historical and existing public policy responses to these, and Sharon explained to us what initially captured her imagination about Debategraph:

When I first came upon the DebateGraph in my search for policy-mapping examples, I felt as if someone had designed it specifically for my approach to teaching — almost as if they had observed my discussion-based classes and then depicted them graphically. In teaching policy issues and the political processes involved, I want students to understand their complexity and the interrelatedness of the issues. DebateGraph allows me to do that in a way that two-dimensional images and discussion alone can’t. Students develop their ability to research their positions, find answers to the compelling questions, and enhance their critical thinking skills while providing me a way to comment on and complete individual assessment of their work — all important to their learning in and beyond the classroom. And, they can do it in a format that fits into their familiarity with the computer, the Internet, and their preference for the visual and importantly in a way that connects them with the rest of the world.”

During the first phase of the course Sharon and the WIU students—Brandon, Colisha, Derek, James, Jan, Jared, John, Julio, Kimberly, Patrick, Robert, and Ruth—are using Debategraph to build an informal collaborative overview of the policy domain. You can see their work in progress below—and in the next phase of the course the emphasis will shift more to deepening the map and developing a more formal structure for the material.

We have been delighted with the enthusiastic feedback from the students so far, who have taken to this new approach to learning in fine style:

I like the DebateGraph as a learning tool because it teaches us how to do in-depth research. It also allows us to open up class discussions, which allows us to hear other people’s points of view.

The DebateGraph is an excellent learning tool which helps students learn through critical thinking. I really enjoy the exercise.

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I think the DebateGraph is an outstanding learning tool. It forces the student to look in-depth at a particular subject. It makes people come up with questions to see if the particular problem can be resolved.

In general, I like the graphics display as a study tool. The generation tends to like information that is bite-sized, easily accessible, and fast paced, so the point and click nature makes it very easy to find information and explore related topics which may have been otherwise overlooked.

DebateGraph is not only a great tool, but it has allowed me to gain new knowledge. It is also a great tool for students to learn about policy issues, and it is also a great tool to use.

The DebateGraph is a really cool way to debate topics so that there is a structure and much more information can be transferred.

The students’ feedback is all more gratifying given that 40% of their overall course grade is being assessed on their individual and collaborative contributions to the map. And Sharon has been employing the RSS feed, email alerts, and edit history to support her grading process—and the map Message Board to ask, and answer, student questions outside class hours.

From our perspective it has been a wonderful start, and an experience from which Peter and I are learning much too about the ways in which Debategraph can be used in the classroom; a learning experience for which we would like to give Sharon and her pioneering students a wholehearted Anglo-Australian vote of thanks.

Mapping the Crisis in Gaza

As the What Should Obama Do Next? map began to address the unfolding events in Gaza last week, it was soon apparent that the immediate crisis and the wider Arab-Israeli conflict merited detailed consideration on a new map.

To this end, Independent readers and the Debategraph community have begun to seed a map on the crisis; including arguments raised by Robert Fisk and Johann Hari, and some of the questions and answers from the Twitter press conference organised last week by the Consulate General of Israel in New York.

The Gaza map (above)—which will require significant iteration and community input from a wide range of voices to reach maturity—is motivated by two medium-term objectives:

(1) to present the different worldviews that underpin the conflict fairly and succinctly on a common map.

(2) to map creatively and constructively the options open to the participants in the conflict and the international community, and the arguments for and against the different options.

This is an emotive subject, and the map is at an early stage of development; so if you see statements with which you disagree strongly or spot gaps in the arguments, please help us to address these on the map.

After logging-in, anyone can add new issues, positions and arguments, edit and restructure the map, and evaluate the different arguments; so the whole structure evolves as new perspectives are added to the map.

Hence, every aspect of the map at this stage should be regarded as mutable and provisional—with the aim being to enrich the structure iteratively and collaboratively until the map reflects a maximum of community intelligence.

As with the Obama map, you can also keep up to date with developments on the Gaza map via @TheIndyDebate on Twitter.

Cross posted at: Independent Minds

Introducing ESSENCE 2009…

ESSENCE is the world’s first global climate collective intelligence event—designed to bring together scientists, industrialists, campaigners and policy makers, and the emerging set of web-based sensemaking tools, to pool and deepen our understanding of the issues and options facing the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009.

The event, starts online in January 2009 and culminates with the UN Climate Change Conference at the end of this year.

During the pre-launch phase, we are beginning to identify and assemble teams of scientists, industrialists, campaigners and policy makers to work with the tool developers on specific aspects of the complex set of issues around climate change.

The aim is to develop a comprehensive, distilled, visual map of the issues, evidence, arguments and options facing the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, that will be available for all to explore and enrich across the web.

The project is founded on principles of openness, transparency, and discovery; with no preconceptions about the conclusions that will emerge from the event.

If you are scientist, industrialist, campaigner, policy maker, tool maker—or someone with other ideas and resources to contribute—and are interested in learning more about and participating in ESSENCE, please get in touch.

Ready?… / …Engage

Essence Sponsors:

                   

 

Essence Partners:

        

 

 

 

 

Visualizing the American Choice

As Americans congregate at the polls and the world looks on in wonder, I thought that would be interesting to visualize the choice as seen through the eyes of the endorsement editorials of the Washington Post (which came out in favour of Obama) and the Washington Times (which came out in favour of John McCain)…

…with the arguments presented in the Election FAQ overview created by Google’s Director of Research, Peter Norvig, layered in below for extra texture: