Mentoring: how it works

Mentoring is a relationship between a less experienced individual, called a mentee, and a more experienced individual known as a mentor. It is traditionally viewed as a one-to-one, face-to-face, long-term relationship which fosters the mentee’s professional, academic or personal development.

CommonSpaces delivers mentoring online, which removes the time and geographical constraints often associated with face-to-face mentoring. Developing the mentoring functionality is work in progress.

This help page intends to provide a general view of mentoring in CommonSpaces; you will find some more detailed information in this other help page: Mentoring: setup and management (page under construction).

General information

The mentoring relationship can be seen as a special case of Project, with only two members: the mentor and the mentee. Both must be members of a community inside CommonSpaces; as a rule, they should be members of the same community, but exceptions can exist. To participate in mentoring, a mentor must be accredited inside the community s/he belongs to.

Currently, mentor and mentee

  • share a Document folder
  • can interact by means of a Chatroom
  • can signpost OERs and Learning Paths from the library of CommonSpaces by "sharing" them locally
  • can create private Learning Paths.

Moreover, the homepage of a mentoring project

  • has a button to send a private message to the mentor or the mentee
  • includes a list of the last messages received and sent by each.

The mentee

In some communities, a mentee can choose a mentor by him/herself; in others, s/he must apply for a mentor and wait that the Community Administrator matches him/her with a mentor. In both cases the mentor must confirm the choice before the mentoring project can start.

The following picture shows the general outine of a "mentoring journey" from the viewpoint of the mentee.

mentoring journey outline - mentee

Once matched with a mentor, the mentee will be able to communicate with him/her at any time of the day from any internet enabled device.

The mentor

To participate in mentoring, mentors must be accredited. A Roll of Mentors can be created in each CommonSpaces community, by a Community Administrator; this becomes also the Supervisor of the Roll. Any member of the parent Community that wants to act as a Mentor can apply to the Roll.

The mentor is responsible for keeping the relationship on track, and for supporting the mentee to set and achieve a number of goals relating to his/her personal development.

The following picture shows the general outine of a "mentoring journey" from the viewpoint of the mentor.

mentoring journey outline - mentor

Once matched with a mentee, the mentor will be able to communicate with him/her at any time of the day from any internet enabled device.

User profile and mentoring

To support mentor accreditation and a good match between mentor and mentee, it is very important that the user fills with care his profile. General information must be provided in the following form fields:

  • short presentation
  • education level
  • study or work status
  • study or work position
  • field of study / sector of work
  • known languages.

Moreover, it is recommended to

  • upload a curriculum
  • describe which 1-to-1 communication facilities, such as Skype, the user has available and prefers to use for chatting by voice and/or video inside a mentoring project.

In addition, the candidate mentor should

  • provide a specific presentation of his/her experience and/or motivations
  • specify a few yes/no options.

Visibility and Privacy

The Roll of Mentor is considered a "semi-public" space: it it linked to the homepage of its parent community; most of its contents are public; but it is not shown in the global lists of Communities and Projects.

The Mentoring projects are considered "private" spaces; they should be visible only to their members and to the Administrators of the parent Community.

The members of a Mentoring project can access it from their personal dashboards.

Implementation

In CommonSpaces, mentoring borrows main concepts from the experience of Brightside Trust, UK, a partner of the CommonS project. But the implementation is affected by the aim of reusing, as far as possible, functions already developed for other functional areas.

Mentoring as a project

In CommonSpaces the mentoring relationship has been implemented as a special case of project, with only two members: the mentor has supervisor rights, while the mentee acts as a normal project member.

Like projects of other types, a mentoring project must be described by some "metadata":

  • a Title is proposed by the Platform; currently it should be updated manually when the project really starts
  • a short description should summarize motivation and objectives
  • a longer description can provide additional information on the context of the request
  • documents can also be attached to a request for mentor.

Mentor accreditation

The Supervisor of the Roll of Mentors accepts the mentor application to the roll after verifying his/her competence, experience and motivations.

Setup of a mentoring project

Two models are foreseen for establishing a mentoring relationship:

  1. model A - the mentee places a request for a mentor
  2. model B - the mentee chooses a mentor present in a Roll of Mentors

The distinction above concerns mainly the setup phase of a mentoring relationship. It doesn't impact the later development of the mentoring project.

Each community can support model A or B or both. Whatever the model, the mentoring project can start only when the mentor has given his/her consent.