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ERIC Number: EJ1065639
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: N/A
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: EISSN-1556-3847
E-Mentoring in Three Voices
Akin, Lynn; Hilbun, Janet
Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, v10 n1 Spr 2007
This research shares the experiences of two colleagues who engaged in an e-mentoring relationship for a period of one academic term. Their candid and reflective comments are interspersed among the voices of the best practices literature. Mentoring is a traditional method of passing knowledge and skills on from an established professional to a junior or new member of the field or discipline. Education has long found mentoring effective and with the advent of online teaching, comes online mentoring, sometimes referred to as e-mentoring, cyber-mentoring, or even virtual mentoring. Instead of actual face-to-face meetings, e-mentoring uses asynchronous, electronic communications to establish and support the mentoring relationship. Knowledge and skills are still shared and transferred but the mentor and mentee may never meet in person. Perhaps the best definition for e-mentoring comes from Mihram (2004) which states: The merger of mentoring with electronic communications to develop and sustain mentoring relationships linking a senior individual (mentor) and a lesser skilled or experienced individual (protégé) independent of geography or scheduling conflicts. Benefits of e-mentoring include freedom from place and time constraints, flexibility, and both the openness and reflection that electronic communication affords. Due to the release from geographic and time elements, mentor pairings can come from anywhere, not just the colleague next door or across the campus. This can increase trust as the impartial mentor will have little immediate impact of the future of the junior professional (Single and Single, 2005b). Drawbacks would include lack of structure, lack of administrative support, and no long range planning (Single and Muller, 1999). If e-mentoring is to be widely recognized as an effective strategy, then it must be supported on all levels and accepted within the educational culture, much the same way as traditional mentoring (Anthony and Kritsonis, 2006). Taking e-mentoring to its reasonable conclusion, it speaks to the creation of e-learning communities. A learning community consists of like minded professionals sharing canon, practice, assessment, and innovation (Hughes and Kritsonis, 2006) and its e-learning variant does the same, but exists on the Internet. A learning community has to begin somewhere and e-mentoring on a one to one basis is a place to start. Directors of distance learning programs should be made aware of the benefits of faculty mentoring in the teaching and development of new teaching assignments, especially when the course is an established course and/or has multiple instructors. While instruction is generally provided in the physical aspects of course development with training on using the instructional interface, less time is spent familiarizing junior faculty with the actual course content and making sure that the instructor is comfortable with the course content. This is a story of e-mentoring, told in three voices: the voices of the best practices literature, a tenured professor, and a junior professor. The two colleagues were assigned to teach two different sections of the same online course on information storage and retrieval and it would be the first time teaching this course for the junior member. While the course was not specifically aimed at a cohort group, it was a required course and followed the typical academic calendar. The two formed an e-mentoring relationship and the addition of the best practices literature provides the structure for this personal case study. As the key elements of a successful e-mentoring relationship are revealed, candid and reflective comments from the two professors share what they learned, what worked, and what they would have changed.
State University of West Georgia. 1601 Maple Street, Honors House, Carrollton, GA 30118. Tel: 678-839-5489; Fax: 678-839-0636; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A