Tuesday, March 10, 2009

My experience of being an eMentor

Here are a couple of thoughts about my experiences of being an eMentor. I think the most important thing about using online communication in a mentoring relationship is to make sure the person you are talking to understands what you are saying - that the method of communication you are using does not cause misunderstandings.


What are your experiences of using online communication? What are the downfalls? How would you manage the intricacies of being an eMentor?


Ray Tolley said...

Hi, Sarah,

You have some very practical views on e-mentoring - worthy of reproducing as a book!

However, I would like to expand on one point. Looking at the American use of mentors within the context of High Schools and e-Portfolios, I discovered an interesting aspect, that of mutual commitment. I discovered a real pathos in reading some of the notes from students' mentors, of a long-term commitment to support,care and reassurance beyond that of a course of study.

I describe the relationship as that of 'an academic God-parent'. To be someone who is approachable, whatever the circumstance and, perhaps different to your set-up, the mentor acts as a neutral 'sounding board' and advocate - a lifelong-friend.

Best Wishes,
Ray T

Sarah Stewart said...

Really love your comment, Ray. But I wonder if this degree of commitment varies depending on the context eg would I be more committed to a young person struggling in an under-privileged than a new graduate nurse getting her heads around practice? I don't know.

I just do not see that level of commitment in the area I am working in at the moment - the first question that is asked is about time commitment - people make it quite clear that their work completely over-rides a desire to mentor. I can understand that, but at the same time, it is disappointing that people do not think about investing in the future by mentoring.

Jeffrey Keefer said...

Sarah, if you can find a way for any two people to communicate in a way that they both understand exactly what the other person wants and means, then you can bottle it an retire. With various experiences and backgrounds and paradigms, I am not sure we can ever know exactly what the other means all (or even most) of the times.

THAT is what makes your work in eMentoring so inviting. I liked your paper / handbook you are working on and shared here http://sarah-stewart.blogspot.com/2009/03/tips-for-being-effective-ementor.html. Quite good work!

kamccollum said...

Sarah, I've really enjoyed reading/watching this series of posts on e-mentoring! This semester, I've had an interesting experience using online communication in the course that I teach. I'm helping a colleague collect data for his dissertation. As a result, I've used asynchronous video communication for a significant portion of communication in the course. Each student has a private space on the class video blog where only he/she and I can post. We posted introductions early in the semester and have since used the video blog as a place for students to post (required) reflections and for me to provide feedback. The asynchronous nature of the tool provides the flexibility that students are looking for in an online course, it also provides many of the benefits of synchronous video communication, or even face-to-face communication. The technology that we've been using has been causing me fits, but when the technology is functioning (and I think there are better asynchronous video technologies out there), it has worked well. Has your project used asynchronous video at all?

Sarah Stewart said...

@Jeffrey You are right - even on a F2F level we have misunderstandings. I find that online communication makes it easier to disclose& keep a more objective view on things.

Thanks for complements :) I had thought of asynchronous video & would like to explore it. I'll let you know if anyone uses it and how they get on.