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 at any place and any time, where ICT tools are available. It has many strong points:

  • location independent: distance is not an issue, time for travelling can be saved;
  • no need for a meeting place (advantage especially for group mentoring);
  • access to a wider target group: can be done by people with limited mobility like parents with small children or handicapped people;
  • flexible time scheduling: can be adapted to daily agenda of Mentee and Mentor;
  • allow different and easy ways of communication: writing via forums and/or e-mail, talking directly via virtual meetings;
  • Mentees as well as Mentors enhance their ICT-skills by using Web 2.0 tools for e-Mentoring;
  • Mentees can easily be added to social networks (e.g. LinkedIn) of Mentors;
  • technical statistics can be used by the Manager for monitoring and evaluating the e-Mentoring process;
  • blended mentoring distinguishes between what can be delivered in platform and what should be delivered face-to-face.

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:

  • relationship building: it may be difficult to build trust and a personal relationship in the beginning. Body language, vocal tunes and state of mood might be missing;
  • confidentiality: people who are not familiar with using web 2.0 tools may be worried about the security of information given during the process;
  • difficulties in communication: people have different learning styles, personalities and communications skills. For some it may be difficult to express themselves via web 2.0 tools;
  • drop-out rate: in case the Mentee is not highly motivated, it might be easier not to attend online meetings than to miss face-to-face meetings;
  • social exclusion: if people are socially isolated already, e-Mentoring may not be the right method to change this.

In order to avoid problems, it is very important that the Manager, Mentor and the Mentee(-s) agree on clear and common communication rules for e-Mentoring.