E-Mentoring at A Distance: An Approach to Support Professional Development in Workplaces


The rapid growth of technology has had a significant effect on educational activities. As a result of this growth, a shift has taken place from a behaviorist teaching style to a constructivist perspective which enables adult learners to build up knowledge collaboratively. Mentoring, a valuable tool within the constructivism approach, can offer a two-way knowledge-sharing environment in which participants can adopt what they learn into their workplaces through a process called transformative learning. Mentoring has now embraced technological advances so that participants can contact each other with synchronous and asynchronous communication tools such as Skype and e-mail respectively. This research project was conducted in a governmental company as a case study in order to study how the participants of mentoring understand their roles, and how they perceive these roles when communicating through Skype and e-mail. The project culminates in suggestions for a new e-mentoring model for practitioners. One of the findings in the research shows that the understanding of the mentoring relationship is diverse, and most participants have confusion about the different meanings of coaching, mentoring and consulting. However, almost all the participants agree that mentors should have a strong position to foster transformative learning in a mentoring process. Although transformative learning has not occurred in the relationships, Skype is a supporting technology for mentors to complement e-mail dialogs by clarification, and building up a trusting relationship. Moreover, some mentors often take an active role to manage and control the relationships as a leading position, but mentees mostly support this action by asking good questions and initiating meetings. Additionally, e-mail is used as a storage tool to review previous conversations, and it is used to re-schedule and initiate online meetings. Lastly, the researcher reflects on the implementation process as practical implications for other practitioners who would like to implement electronic mentoring in workplaces.

KEYWORDS: Online education, e-mentoring, computer mediated communication, professional development, workplace learning.

DOI : 10.17718/tojde.328944