Module III: What are the benefits and challenges of e-Mentoring?

If you are participating in blended mentoring on employment-related issues, we would like to provide you with more information about it as well as the benefits and challenges of e-Mentoring being a part of the blended mentoring process.

Blended mentoring on employment-related issues (ERI) is a development process which has a start and an end. It is based on confidential face-to-face pair (pair mentoring) or group (group mentoring) meetings combined with e-Mentoring meetings on a special e-platform. Blended mentoring on ERI combines the fresh ideas of the Mentee to the experience, wisdom and networks of the Mentor. It enhances learning opportunities for the Mentees so that they will acquire new skills and competences in order to increase their employment abilities.

Benefits of e-Mentoring

e-Mentoring can be done anywhere where there are ICT tools available. It has many strong points: there is no need for a meeting place (an advantage especially for group mentoring), it is a time-saving method and has flexible scheduling. The distance is not a problem (travel time will be saved) and, therefore, it is cheaper as well. It is a modern, different and easy way of communication where various learning methods are used: using writing is better for persons who prefer to write; using a net camera is better for persons who wish to communicate directly. The use of ICT tools enhances one’s skills in them, the social networking of Mentors can facilitate their work in e-Mentoring and technical statistics can be used for monitoring and evaluating the e-Mentoring process. It distinguishes which things can be delivered on the e-platform and which should be delivered face-to-face.

When the Manager of an e-Mentoring process has enough statistical data on the ongoing mentoring process, he/she will have a clear idea what is happening (quality control). e-Mentoring is safe because it can be done in places where participants are not threatened (in case someone is e.g. living in a dangerous area).

The world is changing rapidly and it is more and more important to have connections and networks all around the world. e-Mentoring provides a possibility to increase mentoring between different countries and cultures and, thus, the whole world will benefit.

Challenges of e-Mentoring

There are, however, some issues which have to be taken into consideration in e-Mentoring. Many people are isolated already and in some cases e-Mentoring may increase that. e-Mentoring creates lack of local and international personal contacts. Some things can be easily delivered on the e-Learning platform and some should be more preferably delivered face-to-face.

At the beginning, it may be difficult to be self-assured online as body language, vocal tones and state of mind are lacking. Everyone is not so familiar with ICT and they may think it is unsafe to write on the Internet for security reasons. Some people may be afraid of the fact that other persons are able to view his/her writings in the mentoring process. People have different learning styles, different personalities and different skills in writing. It might be easier not to attend e-Mentoring sessions in case the Mentee is not very motivated.

In order to avoid problems, it is very important that the Mentor and the Mentees together define clear and common communication rules for e-Mentoring.