In 2019, the Rhodes Trust embarked on a major digital transformation project to update our processes and communications. The centre point of this is Rhodes Connect, an online portal that serves as a digital home for the Rhodes community. First launched to Scholars in Residence in October 2019, Rhodes Connect is opening to all Rhodes Scholar Alumni in June 2021.
We know that Scholars in Residence and Scholars-elect are something of a “captive audience”, with Rhodes Connect providing the only route to perform certain essential tasks. We also know that this will not be the case for Alumni – the community will need to provide compelling reasons to justify its place in the wide range of other networks Alumni already participate in. Many online alumni networks suffer from an initial flurry of activity fizzling out when there is no longer any persuasive reason for users to return. We are determined to avoid this, so have focused efforts on what we see at the two primary motivations for Alumni to engage with the Rhodes community:
- Giving back to the community: we know Rhodes Scholars are incredibly generous with their time, supporting other Scholars with their expertise and advice. We want to make it as easy as possible for Scholars to share their experiences for the benefit of the whole community.
- Professional and personal advancement: we want to help Scholars take advantage of the unique community to find opportunities, learn from experts and make new connections.
To support these objectives, the initial release for Alumni will contain the following main features:
- Scholar directory, providing not just a way of finding other Scholars, but an opportunity to present and share your work and achievements with the rest of the community.
- Discussion groups, including file sharing and media galleries.
- Events directory, including both digital and "real world" events, ranging from large-scale forums at Rhodes House to more informal get-togethers organised independently by Scholars around the world.
- Informal mentoring, enabling Scholars to book one-off or occasional sessions with participating mentors to ask for advice and guidance.
- Interactive maps, as previewed with the COVID-19 and Climate Change prototypes published in 2020.
- Content library, bringing together an archive of videos and publications from Rhodes-organised events.
This initial release will be followed by the addition of features to let Scholars both discover and offer volunteering opportunities within and beyond the Rhodes community.
The disruption caused to us all by COVID-19 has emphasised just how powerful online connections can be. We are very much looking forward to welcoming you to Rhodes Connect and believe it will enhance the community of Rhodes Scholars around the world, helping Scholars form new connections and reinforce existing ones.
Personalised invitations to join Rhodes Connect are being sent over the next week. If you haven’t received an invitation by 22 June, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or complete this form. Existing members can log in at https://connect.rhodeshouse.ox.ac.uk.