Mentoring is when one person helps another person learn something that he or she would have learned less well, more slowly, or not at all . In the world of education, mentoring is when a teacher works one-on-one with a more experienced teacher who provides training, modeling, advice, guidance and feedback over an extended period of time for the goal of personal or career development. In recent years mentoring has become an important component of training teachers and professionals in best practices of technology integration. While mentorships can be an effective component of a professional development plan, they can also cause more harm if not developed and managed properly. This Wikibook chapter will discuss the role of e-mentoring in education, pros and cons of mentorships, give advice on how to set up effective mentorships, and offer mentoring resources.
While traditional face-to-face mentoring proves to be an effective part of a professional development program, a new type of mentoring called e-mentoring is also showing promise for training professionals. E-mentoring is similar to traditional mentoring in the fact that a more experienced professional provides guidance and support for a less experienced worker. The major difference with e-mentoring is that communication is primarily with conducted computer-mediated communication such as email, blogs, chat rooms, and web conferencing. Even with face-to-face communication limited or non-existent, Dawson, Swain, Johnson, and Ring found that mentoring relationships do not appear hindered by the use of technology for communication. E-mentoring also allows opportunities for teachers to connect with other "like-minded" individuals or professionals in a specialty area that do not exist in their current setting. This is beneficial since mentees can now create relationships with mentors who understand their specific needs and might not be in their building. Online communication has also proven to be less threatening and promote the sharing of personal feelings. Despite the benefits of e-mentoring, there are potential problems that arise. Smith and Israel stress the importance of technology support to allow effective communication in mentor relationships. Furthermore, mentors and mentees need to feel comfortable using computer-based communication tools. Finally since e-mentoring does not focus on face-to-face communications, mentors need training on best practices on distance communication and e-learning practices. Without proper support and training, e-mentoring may not have a positive effect on learning.
Benefits of Mentoring
While mentoring is not a new form of professional development, studies over the past two decades have shown its effectiveness in helping teachers integrate technology. Franklin, Turner, Kariuki and Duran found mentoring has promise for overcoming obstacles to technology integration including finding time to integrate technology, learning to troubleshoot, and learning how to integrate technology in a classroom setting. Swan, Holmes, Vargus, Jennings, Meier and Rubenfeld list one of the potential benefits of mentoring as assistance to meet specific needs of teachers. Swan et al. also found that technology mentorships can improve confidence and creativity when combined with student-centered approaches to integrating technology. The National Foundation for the Improvement of Education also states that mentoring programs can decrease turnover of new teachers and substantially improve teacher practice. While mentorships are traditionally aimed at benefiting the mentee, mentors can also have positive rewards. The positive rewards can be satisfaction in helping others, recognition at work, an expanded network of professional colleagues, increased self-esteem and affirmation of professional competence.
Drawbacks and Limitations of Mentoring
While there is substantial research that highlights the benefits of mentoring, Long cites that mentoring can have a negative effect of learning if certain elements are present. These include:
- A lack of time for mentor/mentee relationships
- Poor planning process of mentor program
- Unsuccessful matching of mentors and mentees
- A lack of understanding about the mentor process
- Few available mentors especially for females and minority groups
- Overuse of mentors
The National Foundation for the Improvement of Education also points out that poorly developed mentor programs can help reinforce "conservative, traditional practice" while excluding new and innovative teaching methods.
How to Set-up a Mentoring ProgramEdit
Choosing and Training Mentors
Ehrick, Hansford, and Tennent cite that the first major step in a mentorship is picking suitable mentors. Not every person in an organization will work well in a mentor/mentee relationship. A leader also need to make sure that females and minority groups are represented as mentors. Rowley suggests several mentor qualities and training strategies that are listed in the table below.
|Mentor Quality||Training and Program Strategies|
|Committed to the Role of Mentoring||
|Accepting of the beginning teacher/learner||
|Skilled at Providing Instructional Support||
|Effective in Different Interpersonal Contexts||
|A Continuous Learner||
|Communicates Hope and Optimism||
Developing a Mentor Program for Technology Integration
Kopcha outlines a four stage process for effective technology mentoring in professional areas. Each stage builds upon the other, eventually creating a community of sharing.
- Stage 1: Initial Set-up- During this stage mentors work to alleviate problems associated with access and time for technology. This involves creating a supportive environment, troubleshooting technical problems, creating a positive physical environment with technology, and modeling simple ways to teach with technology. The overall goal of this stage is to create a non-threatening environment for technology integration where professionals feel comfortable using digital equipment.
- Stage 2: Teacher Preparation- In Stage 2 the goal is to prepare teachers to use technology in student-centered ways. First, mentors develop a way to monitor and train mentees. Mentors also begin to model effective use of technology integration and follow-up with their mentees on observed lessons. During this stage, mentors also provide leadership and present integration as "easy and useful".
- Stage 3: Curricular Focus- The goal of this stage is to "increase teachers' experiences with the pedagogy needed to employ technology in student-centered ways" (p. 183). By Stage 3, troubleshooting should be split between existing technology and setting up new technology. Mentees design student-centered activities that involve technology integration. The mentor provides feedback on these lessons and also creates learning communities within the organization to share ideas about technology integration.
- Stage 4: Community of Practice- At this point in the process the goal is to move the mentee to a technology leadership role within the organization. In the final step, the mentor steps aside and allows the mentee to become a technology leader for the organization. The mentor should help to create a community of practice within the workplace. One way to do this is to decrease the workload of new technology leaders so they can work with peers on technology integration.
Bell suggests that when ending a mentorship there should be some kind of culminating event. The event does not need to be large, it just needs to be associated with the end of the mentor/mentee relationship. During this time the mentee and mentor should reflect on their time together and share stories and learning. The mentor should offer words of encouragement and give the mentee praise, while avoiding making final suggestions for practice. Finally the mentor should not contact the mentee immediately after the mentorship, but rather give them time to put what they have learned into practice.
Examples of Mentoring ProgramsEdit
Below are links to current teacher technology mentor programs that exist in North America. Each of the links contain different resources and goals specific to the individual needs of the institution.
PEPSICO K-12 Technology Mentors- Mentor program created in Durham school district, North Carolina. Classroom teachers receive extra training in technology integration and then act as mentors for peers. This program was created by the Duke University Libraries.
Heartland Area Education Agency- This program sponsored by the Heartland Area Education Agency in Iowa clearly outlines and states their goals and beliefs for technology mentorships. Resources are paired with research on effective strategies and practices.
University of Southern Mississippi- This program, which concluded in 2003, was iniated by the University of Southern Mississippi to promote classroom technology integration. The project was funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers to Use Technology grant program.
Manheim Township- This program from Manheim school district in Lancaster, Pennsylvania ended in 2007. The attached link contains resources such as mentor resources, schedules for mentor responsibilities, and sample mentorship projects.
Waveplace: Caribbean OLPC- Waveplace is an organization whose goal is to provide laptops to children in the Caribbean. The program offers the opportunity for individuals to act as mentors to children and adults in the Caribbean. There are also internships available to learn to use and teach the One Laptop per Child XO laptop and Squeak Etoys and then explore opportunities to travel the Caribbean and the world to develop laptop pilots
Internships and their Relation to MentorshipsEdit
While mentorships are one way for professionals to gain additional experience and knowledge, internships are another type of training where an experienced worker(s) helps guide a less experienced individual. The differences between a mentorship and internship can be minimal, however, there are some elements that separate the two types of professional development.
- Typically students looking to gain experience in a specific field or professionals looking to enter a specialty area
- Can be pain or non-paid
- While internships can be on-on-one training, often learning occurs from interaction with multiple people
- Most often occurs outside of the original organization
- Usually new hires looking to develop skills
- One-on-one learning relationships
- Usually occur within the organization
- Bell, C. (2000). The mentor as partner. Training and Development, 54(2), 52-56.
- Stock, M.,& Duncan, H. (2010). Mentoring as a professional strategy for instructional coaches: Who mentors the mentors. Planning and Change, 41(1/2).
- Dawson, K., Swain, C., Johnson, N., & Ring, G.(2004). Partnership strategies for systemic integration of technology in teacher education. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 3, 482-485.
- Kasprisin, C.A., Single, P., Single, R.M., & Muller, C.B. (2003). Building a better bridge: Testing e-training to improve e-mentoring programs for diversity in higher education. Mentoring and Tutoring, 11(1), 67-78.
- Smith, S., & Israel, M. (2010). E-mentoring: Enhancing special education teacher induction. Journal of Special Education Leadership, 23(1), 30-40.
- Franklin, T., Turner, S., Kariuki, M., & Duran, M. (2001). Mentoring overcomes barriers to technology integration. Journal of Computing in Teacher Education, 18(1), 26-31.
- Swan, K., Holmes, A., Vargus, J.D., Jennings, S., Meier, E., & Rubenfeld, L. (2002). Situated professional development and technology integration: The capital area technology and inquiry in education (CATIE) mentoring program. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 10 (2), 169-190.
- The National Foundation for the Improvement of Education. (1999). Creating a teacher mentoring program. Retrieved from http://www.neafoundation.org/pages/educators/knowledge-and-resources/nea-foundation-publications/.
- National Academy of Engineering. (n.d.). Benefits to the mentors and mentees. Retrieved from http://www.nae.edu/Activities/Projects20676/CASEE/KnowledgePortal/VideosUW/BenefitsResponisibilitiesandExpectationsofMentorsandMentees.aspx.
- Long, J. (1994). The dark side of mentoring. AARE Conference, New Castle: Australia.
- Ehrick, L., Hansford, B., & Tennent, L. (2004). Formal mentoring programs in education and other professions: A review of the literature. Educational Administration Quarterly, 40, 518-540.
- Rowley, J. (1999). The good mentor. Educational Leadership, 56(8), 20-22.
- Kopcha, T. (2010). A systems-based approach to technology integration using mentoring and communities of practice. Educational Technology Research & Development,58(2), 175-190.
- Internships: What is an Internship?. (n.d.). In Wikijobs. Retrieved from http://www.wikijob.co.uk/wiki/internships-what-internship on November 27, 2010.