The emergence of e-learning has not only brought about changes to the pace and materials used in training, but also profound changes in the players involved. Nowadays, the teacher or trainer is also an IT expert, video producer, screenwriter or designer. While their role has significantly changed, this has been accompanied by the emergence of a new player: the mentor, or rather e-mentor. They can also be referred to as a coach.
Not quite the same but not quite different, e-mentoring is based on the same principles as mentoring but moulded to the framework of digital practices. This role is in the process of reinventing itself through digital technology: new communications, new access, new solutions, etc.
Focus on a unique and particularly interesting form of support for trainers and training organizations.
The rich potential of e-mentoring
Why concern yourself with e-mentoring? Basically, to overcome the biggest challenge in online training: maintaining learners’ interest and maximizing their knowledge retention. All the studies conducted agree: the abandonment rate in training is particularly high when followed remotely. As autonomy sometimes goes hand-in-hand with boredom and isolation, it is difficult nowadays to get trainees to stick it out to the end of the course.
Can the e-mentor provide the missing piece of the puzzle thanks to their real and perceived role? It certainly makes sense when we understand what they can offer.
Before looking into their role more closely, let us clearly define what is meant by an e-mentor.
What an e-mentor does
As the trainer’s real right-hand man or woman, the e-mentor focuses more on the learner than on the course. Rule no. 1: an e-mentor can mentor one or more people, at your discretion. Rule no. 2: they don’t necessarily need the same level of knowledge as the trainer. They are there to provide support, not to create needless competition, so the e-mentor can be a former student or someone completely external to the course.
Of course, the fewer learners they support, the more effective their mentoring will be. Why? Because they constitute a link between the trainer and the learner via the most personalized support possible. To this end:
- The e-mentor is available to answer learners’ questions, whether by synchronous (chat) or asynchronous (email) channels;
- The e-mentor is guided by a key goal: to combat abandonment by providing support;
- The e-mentor intervenes at 3 levels: methodological (by sharing a working method), educational (by ensuring that the trainees achieve their goals) and social (by motivating the participants);
- The e-mentor encourages interaction between learners in the same training session or between different classes;
- The e-mentor may be responsible for maintaining links with the community after the course.
Their role cannot, however, be reduced to coordination or coaching. Generally speaking, they also support the trainer:
- The e-mentor resolves problems concerning technology, access and documentation;
- The e-mentor updates resources on the platforms used.
The full role remained geared towards a single goal: facilitating the course for the learners. Whether they are called on to resolve issues regarding connection, comprehension or abandonment, they never lose track of their goal: to retain the participants’ attention at all times.
Depending on the sector, e-mentoring is also growing alongside or even to replace private lessons for high-school students or young undergraduates.
What e-mentoring does not do
The e-mentor cannot substitute the trainer. They do not replace the trainer either before, during or after the course. In this partnership, each performs their role and each has their own responsibilities. During the course creation phase:
- The e-mentor does not draw up the training plan;
- The e-mentor is not responsible for the content;
- The e-mentor does not select the materials;
- The e-mentor does not illustrate the modules;
- The e-mentor does not manage how the course is divided into classes and modules.
Basically, the e-mentor manages neither the content nor the format.
Likewise regarding responsibility at the end of the course:
- The e-mentor does not prepare the evaluations;
- The e-mentor does not conduct surveys and assessments.
They can, if they wish, appear in a video or voice-off before a presentation, but this does not constitute part of their role.
With a Master’s degree in Communication from Science Po Grenoble, I main work in the field of B2B. After various experiences in the web, I specialized in content creation, optimization and management. I work in the fields of training, HR and digital technology. I am particularly interested in new teaching methods and the added value of digital technology in learning.