Sunday, April 22, 2007

Establishing a Mentoring Plan for Improving Retention in Online Graduate Degree Programs - Janet Truluck, OJDLA

As online distance education courses continue to increase in popularity for graduate programs it is becoming evident that retention issues are much greater in this format than in traditional face to face classes. Maintaining contact with students and overcoming feelings of isolation can be a major challenge for instructors and program coordinators. This paper describes an e-mentoring plan established for students in a Master's of Adult Education degree program with the purpose of maintaining enrollment while supporting students throughout their experience. The steps of the plan are described along with the rationale for each.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Online mentoring and peer support: - Lockyer L.; Patterson J.; Rowland G.; Hearne D.: Alt-J - Association for Learning Technology Journal

A vital aspect of any professional education is the opportunity for students to engage in meaningful practical experiences. In pre-service teacher education in Australia, this vital teaching practice component has undergone challenges in recent years due to increasing student numbers (linked to the increasing demand for new teachers) and limited resources in university and school sectors. As such, initiatives to enhance the practical component of this professional degree have been sought. This paper details the methodology and outcomes associated with a pilot project that utilized asynchronous Web-based communication tools to facilitate mentoring and peer support through the teaching practice experience. Analysis of the online discussions and interviews with participants provides an indication of the nature of the interactions and the perceived value of the intervention, and informs the potential for larger-scale implementation.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Podcast with Computer Science Professor Keith Miller Regarding Having an Online Mentor/Tutor in Class

Professor Keith Miller of the UIS Computer Science Department comments on the use of an online mentor/tutor in one of his computer science classes. He describes the role of the mentor in relating to both the students and the instructor.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Podcast with Wesley Wasmundt - Experienced Online Mentor/Tutor and Coordinator of UIS Program

Wesley Wasmundt is currently with the U of I Alumni Association ( He served as an online class tutor at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, New York and as coordinator of the UIS online peer tutor program.

Wesley outlines the ABC's of successful online peer tutor/mentoring:
  • Accesibility/Accountability
  • Be encouraging/ Be informative
  • Clarify
  • Discussion board facilitation

And, he gives real life examples of how peer mentors can directly intervene to keep students from dropping out of online programs.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Podcast with Kandice Biggs, Former Online Peer Tutor and Mentor

I recently interviewed Kandice Biggs of the University of Illinois at Springfield Center for Teaching and Learning. Over four semesters she served as an online peer tutor/mentor to students in Psychology and Public Affairs classes. She highlights the importance of the role of engaging the students in this brief interview.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Role of Tutors as an Integral Part of Online Learning Support - McPherson and Nunes, EURODL

This paper discusses the changing roles of tutors when engaging with e-learning. Understanding the importance of these roles and identifying necessary tutoring skills is paramount for the success of e-learning solutions. Since online tutors play a critical role in e-learning, as the main agents responsible for the delivery of the courses and the support of the learners, they must be equipped with an appropriate set of skills and attributes in addition to subject matter expertise. This paper discusses four main types of roles (pedagogical, social, managerial and technical) and proposes Online Learning Support (OLS) as computer-mediated approaches to support and facilitate learning, using a combination of skills that encompass information and IT expertise, as well as expertise in the educational uses of online learning resources, environments and communication technologies. Therefore, the process of online tutoring is probably the most important critical success factor in learner acceptance of e-learning.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Ten Tips and Tricks for the Online Student - Mark Evans, TechLearning

By In the summer of 2000 I began an online Masters program at the University of Phoenix. I wasn't expecting too many bumps in the online road. After all, I regularly spent time on the Internet; I used chat programs and newsgroups and my job title, District Instructional Technology Coordinator, had me firmly entrenched in all that was new and cutting edge. Or so I thought.
At the end of my first week "in school" I was panicked, confused and overwhelmed. It quickly became apparent that this virtual schooling was not going to be easy. To my colleagues, I am known as one of the most methodical individuals in my school district, yet in the online classroom I was disorganized.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Wizards Program at Mercy College

Mercy College has encouraged students to take a more active role in their education through the use of online teaching assistants or “course wizards.” The duties of wizards include tutoring students, facilitating discussion, and locating resources, but their most essential function is to model the role of a successful student. Having successfully confronted the challenges of a college environment, they provide peers with the benefits of their experience. The program takes advantage of the special intimacy that students share with their classmates. This article gives an outline of the wizards program, and examines it with respect to several criteria including student satisfaction, learning effectiveness, faculty satisfaction, and the
satisfaction of the wizards themselves.

Monday, August 07, 2006

New Models for Online Learning - Carol A. Twigg, Educause Review Sept/Oct 2003

5. On-demand help. An expanded support system enables students to receive assistance from a variety of different people. Helping students feel that they are a part of a learning community is critical to persistence, learning, and satisfaction. Many projects replace lecture time with individual and small-group activities that take place either in computer labs—staffed by faculty, graduate teaching assistants (GTAs), and/or peer tutors—or online, enabling students to have more one-on-one assistance.
6. Alternative staffing. By constructing support systems consisting of various kinds of instructional personnel, the projects apply the right level of human intervention to particular student problems. Not all tasks associated with a course require highly trained, expert faculty. By replacing expensive labor (faculty and graduate students) with relatively inexpensive labor (undergraduate peer mentors and course
assistants) where appropriate, the projects increase the person-hours devoted to the course and free faculty to concentrate on academic rather than logistical tasks.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Illinois Online Network: Instructional Strategies for Online Courses

The aim of mentorship is to promote learner development drawing out and giving form to what the student already knows. A mentor serves as a guide rather than a provider of knowledge and serves the function of introducing students to the new world, interpreting it for them, and helping them to learn what they need to know to function in it. Mentors in education teach by interpreting the environment and modeling expected behaviors. They also support, challenge, and provide vision for their students.

A major benefit to online mentorship is the opportunity for frequent, convenient communication between mentor and student. Weekly or even daily journals and communications can be sent between mentor and student via e-mail, providing an ongoing "dialogue" which supports the development of the mentor relationship and offers numerous opportunities for timely feedback on student questions, concerns and issues.

Brief report: new roles for tutors in an online classroom - Boria Sax, Journal of College Reading and Learning

This article discusses the use of online teaching assistants or "course wizards," employed at Mercy College not only to tutor students who are experiencing difficulty but also to facilitate discussion and to model the role of a successful student. It begins with a brief summary of the vocation of tutor as it has changed and developed from ancient times to the present. It continues with a discussion of the current crisis in higher education in America and of how online education brings new possibilities and challenges. Wizards not only help students who are at risk but also facilitate discussion and, most importantly, model the role of a successful student.

Sloan-C Effective Practice: Florida State University's Online Mentors

Florida State University's Office of Distributed and Distance Learning (ODDL) created a mentor program to provide more effective student support services. The program was created in response to unacceptably high withdrawal rates in distance learning courses due to students’ feelings of isolation, and to online faculty fears that there were too many students for them to handle preparation, instruction, monitoring, communication, and evaluation effectively.

FSU's ODDL believed that mentors would provide an appropriate level of distance and detachment from the institution, the instructor, and coursemates. Additionally, mentors would be better able to relate to the online learning population with its different demographic characteristics.

University of Western Ontario Career Mentors

Who are the Mentors? Western graduates are leaders in many fields, working and living all over the world. Our mentors are people just like you! What a simple way to inspire the Western community to achieve success!

Agencies and Initiatives in Online Volunteer Mentors

Agencies and initiatives that involve online volunteers as mentors or tutors (e-mentoring, e-mail mentoring, telementoring, etc.). This listing is from, a project of the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs of the University of Texas at Austin, provides information on all aspects of volunteerism.


MentorNet is the award-winning nonprofit e-mentoring network that addresses the retention and success of those in engineering, science and mathematics, particularly but not exclusively women and other underrepresented groups. Founded in 1997, MentorNet provides highly motivated protégés from many of the world's top colleges and universities with positive, one-on-one, email-based mentoring relationships with mentors from industry and academia. In addition, the MentorNet Community provides opportunities to connect with others from around the world who are interested in diversifying engineering and science.

Perceptions of student peer tutors in a problem-based learning programme - Patricia Solomon, Jean Crowe, Medical Teacher

The use of student peer tutors is an attractive and affordable alternative in a problem-based programme. Previous literature has focused on comparing the academic performance of faculty-tutored and student-tutored groups. This study used qualitative methods to examine a peer-tutoring model from the perspective of the student tutor. Students in the final semester of a two-year accelerated physiotherapy programme kept a reflective journal outlining their experiences in facilitating a group of peers from the same class. Content analysis of 56 journals indicated that the students struggled with basic facilitation skills and had difficulty separating the role of student from that of tutor. Students also developed strategies to allow them to succeed, were able to evaluate their performance in a positive light and appeared to value their tutoring experience.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Electronic Discussion Groups: How Initial Parameters Influence Classroom Performance - EDUCAUSE Quarterly, number 4 2002

In future iterations of the e-discussion we hope to enlist peer mentors from the previous semester, one for each theme group, both to initiate discussion and to interact with the students currently enrolled in our classes. Indeed, Sawyer recommends using student experts both as technical assistants and as role models.

eArmyU: Early Lessons from a Grand Experiment in Online Learning, EDUCAUSE ECAR Research Bulletin Volume 2002, Issue 20

Help desk services, an introduction to basic computer skills, online tutoring, peer mentors, and other services may make the difference in the success or failure of an online learner. To supplement the support services already provided to eArmyU solder-students, the Army and IBM Business Consulting Services are currently considering such services as a peer mentor program and a student success course that soldiers would be required to take before enrolling in the eArmyU.