Telementoring in the P-16+ Environment

Telementoring in the P-16+ Environment

Deborah A. Scigliano (Duquesne University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch255
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Background

Telementoring brings together an expert (telementor) and a learner or group of learners (teleprotégé/teleprotégés). The expert is known as a subject matter expert (SME). By acting as guides and with a project as a focus for learning, telementors facilitate interpersonal relationships while providing authentic learning opportunities (Kerka, 1998).

Protégé has been the sole term used in the literature to refer to the person who is being mentored online. The term protégé is also used in face-to-face mentoring. For the purposes of distinction between the face-to-face protégé and the online protégé, the term teleprotégé will be used in this article to refer to the person who is being mentored online. This is a self-coined term developed to provide the clear distinction of a person who is being mentored online and to bring symmetry to the language defining the roles in telementoring (telementor/teleprotégé).

One of the aspects of the focused and personal nature of telementoring involves the partnerships that are formed. The interpersonal relationships that are formed in traditional mentoring partnerships are also seen telementoring. Lenert and Harris (1994) noted that developing relationships between the telementor and the teleprotégé was one of the greatest benefits of telementoring.

Telementoring provides flexibility in the mentoring relationship in that the interactions can occur at times that are convenient to the telementor and the teleprotégé. This convenience may make telementoring more attractive than traditional mentoring (Amill, 2002).

The use of project-based learning is another aspect that provides focus for the telementoring experience. Telementoring works best when there is a project or a specific task that is the central purpose of the partnership (Harris et al., 1996; Harris & Jones, 1999; Lenert & Harris, 1994; McGee, 1997; O’Neill, 1996; O’Neill & Harris, 2004/2005; O’Neill, Weiler, & Sha, 2005; Sanchez & Harris, 1996).

Telementoring has traditionally been used on a widespread basis in the P-12 learning environment. However, telementoring also takes place in higher education and in professional life.

There are several models of telementoring. The models include one-to-one, small groups of learners, and whole classes. One telementor is usually connected with the teleprotégé/teleprotégés. The design of the project and the needs/age of the learner determine the model that is selected (Scigliano, 2008).

The projects can involve a variety of disciplines and topics. The projects are as varied as the needs of the learners indicate. Some of the disciplines include science, the arts, and humanities, to name a few (Amill, 2002; O’Neill, 2001; O’Neill & Harris, 2004/2005; Sanchez & Harris, 1996; Scigliano, 1999).

The method of communication can be synchronous and asynchronous. Asynchronous communication is often text-based using email. Synchronous communication using video conferencing can be used. Software programs are available to support and facilitate telementoring partnerships (O’Neill et al., 2005).

Key Terms in this Chapter

SME: Subject matter expert. This refers to a telementor who is an expert in the field or area of mentorship.

Teleprotégé: A person who is mentored online (term coined by the author to differentiate a person who is being mentored online from a person who is mentored face-to-face).

Synchronous: Refers to online communication that occurs at the same time.

Protégé: A person who is mentored face-to-face or online.

Asynchronous: Refers to online communication that occurs at separate times.

Telementoring: Online mentoring. Also known as virtual mentoring or e-mentoring.

Telementor: A person who mentors in an online capacity.

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