Blended Learning With a Virtual Mentoring Community: Enhancing the Way We Mentor

Blended Learning With a Virtual Mentoring Community: Enhancing the Way We Mentor

Ruth Gotian (Weill Cornell Medicine, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4111-0.ch006
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Mentoring, the tutelage of one person by a more experienced one, is well documented to have a multitude of benefits. Mentoring, which can be traced back to Greek mythology and beyond, has seen its format evolve, especially with the advancement of technology. Traditional models of mentoring include in-person mentoring or more recently, online mentoring. For some underrepresented groups, mentors provide models for success. In 2014, capitalizing on technological advancements and the need for in-person dialogue with a larger constituency, Weill Cornell Medicine launched a science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) blended learning curriculum during its summer program that prepares undergraduates for careers as physician-scientists. This initiative fuses the positive aspects of in-person mentoring along with the opportunities provided by virtual mentoring by a larger group of peer mentors. Blended learning, together with in-person and virtual mentoring, offers a newly charted multi-dimensional approach to fulfilling academic and career goals during a STEM summer program.
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Mobile Devices And Blended Learning

Personalized, portable and easily accessible technology is altering lives (Johnson, Adams Becker, Estrada, & Freeman, 2014). Through the use of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, people can communicate, collaborate, and share information from any place at any time. As such, learning can take place both virtually and in brick-and-mortar institutions (Evans & Johri, 2008). This allows for greater flexibility to modify content and adjust delivery channels.

This seamless learning is grounded in two main principles: personalization and mobility (Wong, 2013). The foundational origin of personalization is the understanding that the student is at the heart of the learning and everything—including intelligence, motivation, group dynamics, and feelings—must be considered (Motsching-Pitrik & Holzinger, 2002). Past research has been focused on either formal or informal learning, but little has been done on the bridging of the two learning modes (Looi et al., 2010), as is the case when virtual mentoring is used in conjunction with in-person mentoring.

Mobility emphasizes the ability to learn without restrictions. With the added efficiency of mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets, learning environments can be expanded as can social interactions, collaborations, and the potential for new formal and informal learning activities (Jones & Jo, 2004).

Recognizing that every student entered the institution with a mobile device, coupled with the software and the instructional knowledge to leverage the current learning management system (LMS), it was an opportune time to introduce blended learning at the institution. Gateways was the ideal platform for the trial.

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