As technology advances, it provides us with many different ways of communicating: Twitter, Facebook, Skype, etc. This has had a major impact on mentoring as we can now do virtual mentoring across the world. But not all technology is helpful in mentoring, and not all e-mentoring software is created equal.
The main question you should ask when evaluating an e-mentoring platform is this: Does the system enhance the possibility of developing and maintaining a quality and personal relationship between the partners?
Let's begin with the matching component, which is the most significant part of such a system. Does the matching form used by the system do the following:
- Does it ask questions that specify in clear language the areas that mentors and mentees can develop through the mentoring program?
- Does it ask questions that ascertain the types of qualities and/or personality characteristics that each person is seeking in the other?
- Does it present the five key roles that mentors play in a mentoring relationship and ask the mentee and mentor which one they prefer?
- Does it ask questions that can pinpoint areas of concern on the part of each individual?
- Does the algorithm work in such a way as to take into consideration the most critical responses that lead to a good match?
- How long has the algorithm been in use and what has been the success rate of matches?
Next, consider the development tools within the e-mentoring software. Is there a mentoring agreement that details specific goals and specific agreed upon guidelines? Are there resources that pairs can use to support development?
Examples might be:
- The ability to create projects
- The ability to create tasks
- The ability to share resources among pairs
- The ability to create learning groups
- The ability for you, as the client, to upload additional resources as needed
Remember, the online mentoring system you choose should create effective relationships and provide for solid development of specific skills/knowledge. Most importantly, it should help lead to a powerful experience that transforms the mentee and benefits the mentor.