The idea of mentorship is deeply rooted in all our minds. There is a common belief that a knowledgeable and a more experienced individual can guide students and help them grow both as an individual and as a professional. However, the idea of mentorship is more rampant in the education sector, especially towards higher education level. With this in mind, the relationship between a lecturer and his or her students grows even more.
But when it comes to online learning, this kind of relationship is affected by many elements. There are many issues that are associated with creating a long-distance relationship. But as more students join online learning, it is becoming important that the traditional lecturer-student relationship be maintained even on the internet. Happily, with proper mechanisms and understanding of technology, many learning institutions have established a healthy bond between students and lecturers. This is because there are many benefits associated with mentorship. Below are a few fundamentals of the online student, mentor relationship.
1. Having a structure in place
One of the main aspects of any successful lecturer starts by organizing his or her coursework in a manner that students can benefit from them. From setting targets to instituting project standards, it is his or her task to make sure that everything is organized well. But in a distance learning program, proper learning features need to be established because online students live very busy lives. Most of them have jobs and families to take care of. But a good mentor is aware can design the right structures to ensure a long distance student can benefit.
2. Describing and simplifying coursework
Online courses need self-responsibility if you want to complete your coursework. This is because students who prefer this type of learning do not have enough time to sit in class for hours to get a certificate or a degree. However, a student should not be faced with problems when going on with the course. Hence, online courses should have adequate explanation and examples to help the student understood everything. Happily, online teachers are no different than ordinary teachers. They always take necessary steps to ensure students can involve and ask questions concerning their coursework.
3. Offering valuable feedback
Just like a normal school, distance learning students should expect to receive any feedback whenever they submit a project or an essay. However, most opinions in these online courses are provided in written forms, while discussions and presentations are organized through emails. In addition, when a student is in need of additional explanations, things such as Skype calls or telephone conversations can be arranged. However, this is not the norm in this type of setting.
4. Providing different types of communication
Communication is totally different when online courses are concerned. This is because they are 2 main possibilities namely asynchronous and synchronous communication
- a) Asynchronous communication – this type of communication is done through various means such as email and other channels where participants have to take turns to engage in conversations.
- b) Synchronous communication – this type of communication is assisted by services such as instant messaging, where the main aim is to talk with your partner at the same time.
Even though some students may miss the personal relationship that is associated with a face-to-face conversation, discussion through specialized software is better for online learning. It also leaves a trail that a student can use when studying or when reflecting on certain interpretations.
5. Providing extra learning resources
Both normal and online learning requires significant resources that can help students to fully engage themselves in various subjects when studying. Even though numerous institutions have enough learning resources, some students may want additional resources if they are passionate about a certain thing. This means they can benefit a lot from a direct relationship with a mentor who will be able to provide additional resources they need to strengthen their knowledge. Mentors will also help the students with valuable tools that will assist them in getting what they will be looking for.
6. Bringing togetherness
Even though it is very beneficial and useful, we cannot ignore that online learning has an element of loneliness. Spending many hours in front of a computer screen can make a student feel lonely and somehow isolated when compared to a normal learning course. But with an online mentor, the whole issue of loneliness is solved. Top online institutions provide a sense of togetherness that brings in all their alumni. This helps to build a strong relationship between faculty members and the students. A powerful student-mentor network can help to bring togetherness. It also helps to encourage a higher overall presentation on the student’s part.
7. Creating a relationship between fellow students
In a normal class, a lecturer is a mediator between many students in the class. However, an online course does not function like a normal class, but parallels can be drawn. This is because students may feel like they are not connected with their fellow classmates since they are not in the same class with them. All students are expected to follow the school code of conduct, all laws and practices. Some online students may feel like they are not real students and should not follow school rules. But with a good online teacher, he or she can help to create a relationship between fellow students. By encouraging group work, or allowing students to give feedback to each other, online students can feel connected to his or her fellow classmates. There are many ways that a lecturer can install to bring a spirit of connecting even in an online classroom.
Now you can see that a mentor-student relationship is very important. Even though there are numerous challenges, there are plenty of ways for flexibility and innovation. Just like a regular school, building a very strong mentor-student relationship is vital if you want to have a successful course. Since more and more people are thinking of online learning, the more institutions will be looking for good educators who can handle themselves well in online world, and also help the students succeed.