Online mentoring has been around since the internet first worked it’s way into America’s classrooms, and from the beginning, there’s been much debate about how it actually helps students connect to their studies.
Online mentoring gives students around the country access to scientists, math tutors and history professors half-way around the world at the click of a mouse. It can be rewarding for mentor to share their knowledge and for children to learn in a non threatening way.
The mentor and the child can choose how “in depth” the communication needs to be. Lessons can be as simple and easy as an e-mail or as involved as an online web cam lecture. Online mentoring tends to be less time consuming than traditional mentoring but can be just as helpful and rewarding as meeting in person. It’s easier to reach 20 students online than it is to teach each one individually in person, one professor can send out dozens of explanations to dozens of different problems in half the time of a one on one session.
Another, often overlooked benefit, is students can mentor each other online as well. Some schools set up class to class tutoring over the world wide web, but it’s just as easy to do kitchen table to kitchen table. Group mentoring is simple to arrange and anyone over the age of 11 can set it up.
As easy as it is to see the benefits of online mentoring, the faults are obvious, too. Meeting a student in person it’s easier to see if your getting through. You can tell right away if your information is registering as opposed to five back and forth e-mail or online chat sessions.
It may be harder to motivate kids via the internet, harder to keep their interest and harder to taylor your lessons to their specific learning style. In person, it can be seen right away what kind of learner a child is, it may take dozens of online mentoring lessons before a mentor realizes what works best.
While being an online mentor can be rewarding, there may be no replacement for the feeling of getting through to a child and seeing the “light bulb” moment in person…although a web cam can convey the same message.
Online mentoring may not be for everyone but if you want to try you hand at it, here are some websites to help you get started:
These sites can guide you step by step into becoming a “Virtual Volunteer.