Education and Community: The collective wisdom|
of teachers, parents, and members of our community.
TELEMENTORINGThe project begun on 1993, matches telementors with schools. Their pool of mentors come from around the world and offer certain expertise a classroom teacher may need to fulfill curriculum demands. Each project is carefully monitored and overseen by a graduate student in the school's education program. Having an online facilitator was crucial to the successful or lack thereof of any telementoring project.
"This is easy!" you might be thinking now. "Just give people each others' Internet addresses and a few suggestions about netiquette, and the conversations are sure to be successful"
That's what we thought and had expected, also, nearly four years ago, during the pilot project. We assumed that if folks already knew how to use electronic mail and wanted to communicate with each other, all that we needed to do was to act as a virtual introductions service. We were wrong. We had overlooked the very real challenges of time, medium, and differing expectations. we quickly discovered the critical need and important role for the online facilitator. (Harris, 1996)
Harris supports what Neils and I had discovered in our projects. Facilitation is crucial for successful telementoring. Harris' discovery was that facilitation requires moderation, mediation, and facilitation. All mail correspondence goes through the Electronic Emissary listserver so that is how they moderate and monitor the projects. Mediation occurs seldom, but the EE facilitator becomes a "conflict mediator" when necessary. Facilitation is the most demanding part of the project. Keeping everyone involved, on task, and active is a demanding job. (Sanchez, 1996) Neils and Nellen concur on this point.
An important research paper, by Victoria Dimock comes from the Electronic Emissary Project. Dimock found that student interest increased, engagement with content increased, amount of content and depth of analysis increased in the projects she studied. (Dimock, 1998) The importance in the Electronic Emissary is that the work is being done in a academic research facility and will provide substance and credibility to other schools of education. this is very important to the future of telementoring.