E-mentoring highly effective: study

July 2nd, 2008 - 3:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, July 2 (IANS) E-mentoring has been found to be more convenient, more direct and better than face-to-face mentoring, according to a study. “E-mail-based communication is almost instant and helps overcome one of the major obstacles to traditional mentoring - participants finding a suitable time to meet,” said Kim Rickard of Victoria University, who conducted the study.

By using e-mail, participants can go straight to the issues without the need to engage in “polite conversation” beforehand, the study found, ScienceDaily reports.

It also provides a forum that allows for “fairly sophisticated” exchanges between participants, which improves the chances of higher learning.

Rickard said the personal e-mail has been shown to have characteristics that foster relationship development.

“The mentored, especially, look forward to receiving e-mails from their mentors. The research showed that frequent interactions were important in determining the quality of the mentoring relationship,” she said.

Rickard’s study involved a detailed analysis of 20 mentored and five mentors participating in a e-mentoring network.

The network is a professional development initiative of the Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers, Australia.

“The aim was to find out what works and what doesn’t, so we could develop a framework to evaluate e-mentoring programmes,” said Rickard.

“For example, we found that the process of goal-setting is important because it gets people thinking about what their needs are and how they can be met within and beyond the e-mentoring programme.”

Rickard believed that as access to broadband and web-camera technology increases, future e-mentoring programmes will have the option of enabling face-to-face contact in virtual space.

She said: “E-mentoring is being used to link people on the basis of professional need rather than geographic location, which makes it of huge benefit to a range of industries.”

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