Vol. 15 : No. 9
FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY
Mentors in management of online students
At Florida State University, we have successfully employed "mentors" since fall 1999 in support of our online courses. Mentors are individuals who have advanced formal education in the subject area that they support. They have been trained to work with distant students in an online environment under the supervision of the lead faculty member. So, it combines a tutor function with an online coach and facilitator function.
Mentor support in online degree completion programs in Computer Science, Interdisciplinary Social Science, and Information Studies has contributed to our online completion rate of 85%+ and of these completers approximately 85% earn grades of C- and higher. A yearly training workshop is conducted for mentors on the FSU campus and there is ongoing training and support while mentors are actually engaged in supporting students and faculty in credit programs.
We have learned a lot about implementing a mentor support system and the kinds of communication issues that must be addressed and sustained. We want to make the expertise we have gained available to others who may be interested. To that end, we are conceptualizing a future conference and mentor-training workshop. Some topics that can be covered are recruitment, hiring, training and supporting mentors.
What would you or your institution be interested in learning about the role and value of online mentors in online learning? Our resources include staff, faculty, students and mentors. 6 full terms of courses supported by mentors have been completed and student satisfaction surveys have been done each term.
We appreciate any requests or suggestions you may have for topic areas to be covered from logistical detail to broad philosophy.
Hayes, Coordinator, External Relations and Development
Visit the FSU website at: http://www.fsu.edu/~distance