Online education: turning graduates into a community of mentors?
August 12, 2014 10:56 AM Subscribe
I am part of an online philosophical community with an optional mentoring scheme. Those who complete enough lessons from a bank of hundreds graduate and can then become mentors to others, but few stay; how can I foster a sense of community amongst these graduates and encourage them to stick around to become valuable mentors to the waiting students?
posted by tzb to Education (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm about to complete a mentoring scheme for an online philosophical community. We study a wide range of material, from spiritual classics like the Tao Te Ching and other ancient texts like The Art of War, through the work of people like Jung and Joseph Campbell, to things like the documentaries of Marcus du Sautoy and the contemporary ideas of Alain de Botton. We have a large community of active members but most are mentees.
The scheme is optional in the community and involves mentors assigning lessons with a point value (decided by the leading council) from a bank of hundreds, dependent on the interests and direction of individual students; once a mentee has accumulated a sufficient number of points and after a minimum of six months, they can be put forward for an interview with the council and, if successful, graduate.
On graduation, it becomes possible to become a mentor. However whilst the number of graduates is high (and has built up over years), few actually take on this role with most leaving the site on graduation. As such there is a large build-up of those awaiting a mentor, and a high turnover within the community.
I'm looking for a way to encourage graduates to stay, to strike up a community amongst themselves and to take on the awaiting mentees. Whilst we aim to have no more than two mentees to a mentor, several mentors have ten or more people working with them at the moment, with many awaiting an opportunity and some leaving the site in frustration.
I wouldn't want to coerce anyone to stick around, but I'd like to do something to make it an environment which people WANT to stay in. Unfortunately, whilst people seem hugely keen right up to the point of graduation, they often take something of a sabbatical after their period of study and never return. It's strange to me because many of these people are very active in our community right up until this point. There's no obligation to be, and no benefit of doing so beyond the ordinary social benefit of talking to other like-minded people - you don't "gain points" for being sociable.
I should add there is a secondary scheme for graduates, in which they can assign themselves lessons as they wish with higher "ranks" available, some of which require the successful mentoring of other students. In other words, there is stuff to do after graduation; it just doesn't seem to be motivating people to stick around.
Any advice or ideas would be much appreciated!