A Note on Mentoring and E-Learning

A Note on Mentoring and E-Learning
  • Mittlearn
  • September 12, 2022

Mentor, a word from the ancient Greeks, is defined by the Cambridge English Dictionary as: an experienced and trusted person who gives another person advice and help, esp. related to work or school, over a period of time. Later, more generally: a person who offers support and guidance to another; an experienced and trusted counsellor, peer, or friend; a patron, a sponsor. The practice of mentoring is as old as human civilization. Mentoring as a practice was noted in Homer’s The Odyssey.

How is E-mentoring different from Coaching/Coaching platform?

Tapping into a student’s, professionals or employee’s genius is Coaching. When an individual or a company buys a course from coaching platforms, they are looking for an external coach to help unleash the genius of individuals and employees. Tapping into a leader’s wisdom is Mentoring. Mentoring effectuates human-to-human transfer of wisdom, from counsellor, peer, experts, and senior leaders to individuals who need that wisdom to develop their skills, grow personally and become productive at school, college, university, or at work.

Mentoring and E-Learning Relationship

In recent years, e-learning uses the principles of a traditional mentoring relationship but changes the means of communication thus, has become a medium to remove both mentor and mentee from the time and resource pressures of the real world. Across the Web: online, e- mentoring or tele mentoring relationships are taking place, substituting the traditional, longstanding face-to-face practice into an electronic environment. Online mentoring is useful for learners of all ages in both formal and informal settings. E-learning can ensure consistent delivery of critical information as well as compress the time to learn.

In 2002, The National Mentoring Center defined the emerging practice of online or e- mentoring as “mentoring projects that use technology to facilitate and support mentor relationships”.

Benefits of E-mentoring

  • E-mentors could meet more frequently and more conveniently. Instead of the mentor and mentee meeting once or twice a week or once a month for social, educational, or professional development.
  • Freeing the mentor and mentee from the constraints of time, geography, high costs, or other limiting factors. As e-mentoring is done through asynchronous communications, e-mail, instant messaging apps (e.g., WhatsApp messenger, RingCentral Message, Slack) or a discussion forum via project management tools such as Basecamp, Trello, Mondays etc.
  • For effective e-mentoring requires extensive planning and commitment from both mentor and mentee. Thus, e-mentoring facilitates a relationship with potentially greater compatibility and efficacy.
  • E-mentoring presents a more holistic and complete training program rather than sticking mentees on the easy tasks or boring work until some later date.

Challenges of E-mentoring

  • Mentoring done entirely through virtual means is demanding on both mentor and mentee and can cause burnout. Mentees create too much demand, wanting more and more time from their mentors contributing to exhaustion for mentors. Mentees can easily get overwhelmed as mentors end up answering questions that aren’t necessarily within their domain.
  • E-mentoring is more time consuming than a face-to-face discussion. Electronic communication poses a challenge to both parties from the act of typing messages, awaiting responses, and so forth to having regular access to computing resources. Way Forward E‐mentoring should involve systematic induction, mapping all support channels, needs assessment, differentiation, and blended forms of communication. Which will enable e- mentoring to reach all individuals who want to engage in a mentoring relationship. E‐mentoring removes access to superficial but salient characteristics such as race, age, gender, physical appearance, disabilities and so forth and focuses on other commonalities that might draw them together.