As mentoring becomes more and more popular in every sphere be it work or academics, many are inn two minds about opting for offline or online programs. There are pros and con to both and it’s vital that you understand and analyse the details of both before weighing your options.
Be it traditional person or online format, mentoring is often defined as a tactical relationship founded on faith and belief.
With traditional module you win-some you lose-some
Mentoring in person has the benefit for mentors and mentees to put a face to the name. You get to see the mentor in-person and engage organically thereby learning from his/her personality and character traits. Many feel more comfortable with a person than they do with a computer screen, as the experience is more personal and genuine. With both mentor and mentee present solutions to problems and academic questions get easier.
The chief disadvantage of face-to-face mentoring is that it limits the scope to geographical propinquity. For traditional mentoring it is mandatory for both participants to live nearby do that in-person meetings are realistic. Concerns regarding locality, accessibility, and ease are integral part of this method. Age, personality, experience, web-length match also come into play in this set-up. Personal interaction with a daunting professional mentor can also overawe the mentee.
Online mentoring eliminates geographical hurdles
Today, it is very easy to go online with professional mentors living in different parts of the world. Online mentoring expunges geographical hurdles as mentor-mentee can connect anytime, anywhere. Sessions can be scheduled faster and held in various modules. With a simple ping or text the mentee can share the query with the mentor who can respond immediately. Technology advancement and innovation has made exercises like matching mentor/mentee profiles, video conferencing and chatting through diverse apps very convenient. Mobile internet has given further impetus to this. Today it is possible to initiate and complete a successful mentorship session fully online. The mentors and mentees need not to meet in person.
Ensures a robust tracking of the mentorship program.
E-mentoring also helps in sharing of networks and resources. It also ensures a robust tracking of the mentorship program. The entire record of shared communication stays in one particular space and can be accessed by both at any point of time. Thus the online method gets livelier compared to the traditional one.
Helps students experience a whole new worldview
E mentoring enables you to get in touch with someone very different from your background. Sometimes, e-mentoring helps students experience a whole new worldview that they’d never have experienced otherwise. Cultural differences can be an issue; however, with a strong sense of adaptability this can easily be transcended. With both participants willing to be flexible, cross-cultural mentoring can be a very enriching and rewarding practice.
Technology access can be challenge
The disadvantages of this mode of mentoring are hardly any. However it is important to mull over them when putting into practice a new mentoring program. E-mentoring demands ready and smooth access to technology for both the mentor and the mentee. A computer, lap top, tablet or phone is a perquisite. Next come the availability of a steadfast Internet connection and a medium of digital communication such as a mentoring platform, email or video chat. Ready and unwavering access to these tools can still pose a challenge to some, especially those living in remote areas.
Online mentoring also requires a certain level of self-discipline, energetic involvement from both sides, and a deeper level of engagement.
Combined module can be a good idea
If you’re thinking of joining a new mentorship program, chew over the benefits and the draws of both the formats. Find out what you want to achieve from the mentorship program and what suits your purpose best. You can always opt for a combined module taking the best components from in-person and online mentoring thus devising a one of its kind mentoring program customised for best results.
Author: Baishali Mukherjee
Profile- An independent writer and journalist for last nine years; presently working with Education World, Entrepreneur India, Scrabbl.com and Stoodnt.com. Worked as the content head for four books and have articles and features published in leading print and digital media spaces.