ementoring is a means of providing a guided mentoring relationship using online software or email. It stemmed from mentoring programs with the invention of the internet, and began to gain popularity around 1993. First used for programs connecting schoolchildren with businesspeople, ementoring is now popular throughout the US, the UK, and some parts of Europe.
Many early ementoring programs used email communication to link mentors and mentees. Telephone communication was also occaionally used, known as telementoring. One of the first ementoring programs was developed in Canada in 1990, where teachers from schools in British Columbia were given online support and training by experienced peers. The teachers and peers never met in a face-to-face context.
Modern ementoring projects tend to rely on web-based solutions, particularly if children are involved. Online software allows both mentors and mentees to log into a secure online environment where they can converse under supervision of moderators and coordinators.
An example of an e-mentoring organization is in the US is MentorNet, a non-profit e-mentoring organization that focuses on women and underrepresented minorities in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields. MentorNet uses an algorithm to match over 27,000 mentor relationships since 1997. The organization is unique because it uses technology to guide relationships between mentors and protégés. MentorNet focuses on college-level protégés for the 8-month matching scheme. Another US provider is Chronus who provide eMentoring services across various sectors from enterprise to non-profit.
An example of an ementoring provider in the UK is Brightside, a non-profit e-mentoring organization that works with 60 businesses, charities and universities. Brightside has developed a secure online portal featuring interactive content and resources through which over 6,000 trained online mentors are connected with over 21,000 young people, providing them with information and guidance about education and employment. Newer entrants to the UK market include sfG MentorNet®, which was designed jointly with a youth-based mentoring charity but which is also now being used by an increasing number of Careers Departments within UK universities. Others include Aluminati with their Aluminate eMentoring platform targeted to alumni and students of higher educational institutions and Mentor Match Me.
ementoring can retain the face to face interaction by utilizing video chat services, such as FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Skype, video chat through Facebook, etc.
Controversy and debate
Online mentoring is occasionally compared unfavourably with face to face mentoring. The medium limits the ability to pick up on visual or social clues, makes immediate feedback difficult and can often be seen as impersonal.
However, ementoring can make participants more willing to offer honest feedback. It is also being embraced more readily by those in business who want to become mentors, as ementoring is less time-consuming than face-to-face mentoring.
It has been suggested that the quality of the mentoring relationship is heavily influenced by the amount of common interests that the mentor and mentee have. As such, most charities and businesses that offer eMentoring programmes require some shared interest between the mentor and mentee. It is also generally accepted that any mentoring relationship is most effective during a transitional period in the mentee's life, such as applying to university or making decisions about future careers.
Ementoring programs also impact beneficially on the motivation of the youth pursuing post highschool studies. The impression, that is driven from the exchanges with an ementor working in the field of interests of the youth, of "how important the studies are" if he wants to get the job he dreams of is tangible.
- "Mentoring: students and young people" Andrew Miller, 2002
- Mentoring in Engineering and Science - MentorNet
- Brightside - home
- sfG MentorNet® Website
- "Interpersonal effects in computer-mediated interaction: a relational perspective" JB Walther 1992
- Advance Mentoring - Database Error
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