Mentoring on the move

Another of my newly published articles landed on my desk this morning. It's an article that has been a long time coming, and I have already presented the work from the study in papers at several conferences over the last couple of years. Along with my Faculty of Education colleague Wendy Lambert-Heggs, I was successful almost 3 years ago in securing £3,000 from the Peninsula Centre for Excellence in Teacher Training to develop and evaluate a new method of professional distance mentoring. We used a simple two-person blog set up and asked student teachers and their mentors to participate. We eavesdropped as they created their dialogue and then interviewed them afterwards. We saw some interesting results from the MentorBlog Project when we compared the distance student views to those of students doing traditional face-to-face mentoring. Although the article has just been published, it appears as a 2009 reference, because the U.S. based Quarterly Review of Distance Education journal is always 6 months behind its published listing (maybe something to do with time zones). Below is the abstract and reference:

Wheeler S and Lambert-Heggs W (2009) Connecting distance learners and their mentors using blogs: The MentorBlog Project. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 10 (4), 323-331,

In this article we describe the MentorBlog project, which facilitated the mentoring of trainee teachers in the post-compulsory sector through the use of blogs. In an experimental design, the study compared their experiences with students who received tradtional mentoring. The article highlights the importance of mentoring in the teacher education process, and argues that blogging can be a useful and viable alternative when students are not able to meet face-to-face with their mentors on a regular basis. A number of key blogging affordances are identified, including reflexivity, persistence, and immediacy, which can either encourage or undermine successful mentorial dialogue. We also identify dissonance as a barrier to full dialogue in mentoring and show how it can be a problem due to the archiving features on most blogs. The article concludes with some recommendations for the future wider development of blogs as mentorial tools for distance learners, and proposes an extension of the project to include the use of mobile phones as a route to providing "any time, any place" mentor support for nomadic students.

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'Mentoring on the move' by Steve Wheeler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
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