Telementoring: Making a Difference

Making a Difference


Ted Nellen

Students who are involved with telementoring are more apt to take responsibility of their own learning than those not involved in telementoring.

In his introduction in Conflict of Interest, Joel Spring states, "It is my long-standing belief that the political structure of schools determines the political content of instruction." He then sets out to prove this and show it in his book. Certainly this sentiment rings true. The politics of our current situation find their roots in three federal initiatives. The first is Secretary of Labor Lynn Martin's 1991 Secretary's Commission on Acquiring Necessary Skills initiative affectionately called SCANS which published a report What Work Requires of Schools. This report spelled out specific skills expected of the schools. The second came in March of 1994 when President Clinton signed the Goals 2000 Act The third federal initiative followed closely in May 1994 with School-to-Work Opportunities Act These three federal initiatives paved the political path for directing school curriculum and expectations. In conjunction with this two Governor's conferences have added political clout to affecting schools performance, expectations, and outcomes. The political ramification is that the federal government is becoming more actively involved in education by passing laws and generating initiatives. In addition, the business community has become more blatently involved as seen with these three initiatives. The politics of education has become ugly. The power is coming from outside, the pedagogy is from inside, and the values from society in general. It is my contention that telementoring will help bring a peaceful resolution to all of these forces and will appease all since they each have a voice and a stake in the ultimate goal: a better education for our children. In the end no matter how much the politicians legislate and the business leaders posture about hiring practices, and educators preach pedagogy; the students will perform when they see value, ownership, and relevancy.

I plan to collect data from the students, mentors, and facilitating teachers. I will provide a survey I wish for them to complete online. I will be interested in how telementoring increased student academic performance based on better report cards, increased their attendance in school, increased their motivation in school, increased their self-confidence, increased their involvement in school. I am concerned with student attitudes about school before telementoring and after telementoring. Questions would include doing well in school is (a)important (b)somewhat important (c)somewhat unimportant (d)unimportant. Other questions will guage importance in responsibility to own learning, involvement in classwork, plans for the future, relevancy of some classes and telementoring, use of computers, benefits to telementoring, disadvantages to telementoring, impact on school work because of telementoring.

Annotated Bibliography

  • ken.html Distinguished Educator Telementoring Support System
      Milken Family Foundation's new program to support the President's Technology Literacy Challenge (TLC). The idea is to provide cooperating states with funds, support, and resources in implementing telementoring programs to assist students in bridging the technology gulf between those who have and those who do not have. The plan is to help provide and establish effective educational benefits for both teacher and learners.
      John Cradler of Far West Laboratory prepapred the data to determine the benefits and impact of telementoring on students. This is found in Appendix I. The observations were made while students were participating in the project. Overall, the report found that 61% of the students involved showed a positive increase in their report grades. 75% of the students showed improved attitude towards school work. The significance of this report is crucial in my own research since it taps into a nationwide project which is both government and private industry sponsored.

  • Telementoring Young Women
      The mission of Education Development Center's (EDC) Center for Children & Technology (CCT) is to build on-line communities of support for young women in high school taking technical courses. It is a National Science Foundation three year project supporting technology use among female high school students using the community of professional women in technical fields, parents, and teachers. The project follows a prescribed plan supported by print material, on-line pointers to curriculum, information about girls in science and technical fields, and other sources of interest. The program is to encourage young women to consider taking courses in science and computing areas and even to consider careers in this new emerging industry. To accomplish this task, the program wishes to provide validation, advice, and support so young women can make an educated decision; to help young women think beyond the stereotypical fear of women in technology fields; to discuss the isolation of women in this field; and to supply contacts for young women to discuss their options.

  • Electronic Emissary
      The Electronic Emissary is a project at the University of Texas, Austin College of Education. Judi Harris is the project director. The mission of this project is to establish the telecommunications connections between the 71 million people worldwide with email access and the students of our schools. It taps into the volunteer spirit of the nation. It recognizes that the Digital Age with allow students to reach beyond their geographic and temporal bounds to tap into the resources around the world. The plan is to have the "electronic emissary" assist the teacher from afar by providing his/her expertise to the class via email. Begun in 1993, the Electronic Emissary matches electronic mentors to the desirous teachers.
      Research papers have emerged from this project which provide significant data and observations which will help me substantiate my claims. One such report "Building Relationships, Engaging Students: A Naturalistic Study of Classrooms Participating in the Electronic Emissary Project" by K. Victoria Dimock focuses on what happens in the classroom participating in telementoring. She employed the Naturalistic Inquiry method to collect data. Her findings will impacted greatly on my own study. Another report emerging from the Electronic Emissary project was "Online Mentoring: A Success Story" by Barbara Sanchez and Judi Harris. In this report the authors recount in five different stories the reactions by students to thier work with telementors. Data collection is in the form of testimonials from the subjects and evaluation by the researchers.

  • HP Email Mentor Program
      The Hewlett-Packard Corporation has developed a very powerful telementoring program within its own organization. Three of the program's goals is to be sure children are ready to learn; improve science and math proficiency; and to increase number of females and minorities studying science and math. HP employees provide support and encouragement to students to achieve academic excellence.
      David Neils, Project Director at HP has amassed a great deal of data from all of the mentors and mentees. The reason he has gathered so much data is that he must show HP that the program is good and is working and so he can help spark a nationwide corporate telementoring program. His findings and his data will be of great significance to me since it is so diversified in its scope. The HP telementoring program is worldwide.

  • Learning Through Collaborative Visualization project (CoVis)
      CoVis is concerned with the advancement of science education in the K-12 environment. Telementoring plays a role in its "scaffolding" philosophy. "Scaffolding" is CoVis' educational philosophy of using mentors to provide a model which is to be copied and then the learner reflects on his or her own interests and builds off the mentors modeling, hence "scaffolding." CoVis telementoring projects revolve around the idea ofd immersing the student in the work. "Being put in the context in which they explore problems" is crucial in creating lifelong learners and generating higher high school graduation. Telementoring provides the students mentors who can help the student formulate ideas, do the work, complete the work which brings satisfaction to task and a higher chance to succeed some more and graduate from high school.

  • t.html The Telementoring Revolution: Three Case Studies
      This research project of three case studies explores: Hewlett-Packard's Program, Walker School's NetPals, and LeMoyne College NetPals Program.
      Inherent in all three cases were problems with connectivity, especially on the mentee side. Quick feedback by mentors also was a great concern.
      Her study of the Walker School provides valuable insight form the student's perspective on telementoring and how it effected their own work in school. Data was collected in phone interviews and face to face interviews. Students' performance were reflected in their report cards. This information is significant in supporting my claims.

      The significance with the next two entries is that they are panel discussions about telementoring and the participants bring up the downside to telementoring as it relates to the involvement by the mentors, the facilitation by the teacher, and the production of the student as well as the question of connectivity. All very real and important matters to be considered in my own study.

    • Establishing the Telementoring Project
        This panel discussion had practitioners speaking about examples. Northwestern University PhD student speaks about telementoring failures. Provides good empirical study results. Good discussion with HP's Neils and LeMoyne's Lake.

    • Telementoring Ways of Learning
        This panel involves many pioneers, especially Dan Klemmer with his 6th grade writing project. Also Judi Harris, David Neils, and Dorothy Bennett.

      An additional book I wish to explore is:
      Miller, Steven E. (1996). Civilizing Cyberspace: Policy, Power, and the Information Superhighway. New York: ACM Press.