Can mentorship be successful online?
After almost two years of domination of virtual communication over live meetings, and without clear indications when the situation will change, it is inevitable to talk about whether mentoring via emails, voice messages, and Zoom calls is neglected and faded, or maybe just the opposite. Maybe we get some different, and equally useful and important tools for our personal development, connection, learning, and mutual support?
In 2020, the “Creative Mentorship” team had to react quickly and reform the project of regional cooperation, networking, and development within the program for youth in the culture and arts sector, which we implemented in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia, with the support of the Regional Office for Youth Cooperation (RYCO). The realization of the planned mentoring activities was greatly hampered by the inability to travel and meet live in our cities Belgrade, Mostar and Tirana. It also required additional efforts and resources to achieve determined goals and get to know and bring together people who need to work together for months, support and learn from each other, and create together in a situation where it is almost impossible to spend any time together in the same place.
However, over this period we all learned new tools, and approaches redefined our methodologies and better understood the possibilities we have when it comes to online communication and specifically – online mentoring. We entered 2022 more equipped, and we started proactive research on online mentoring, in Serbia, the region, and in various European contexts.
What elements of online communication improve or hinder the sharing of our plans, ideas, and strategies? What techniques can be used in this approach – what works and what doesn’t? Suddenly, silence became more important. Breaks for thinking occur more naturally during live meetings than online, so we are often uncomfortable when no one’s voice is heard over Zoom. Yet, constant conversation makes it impossible to reflect and think.
What are the main obstacles to making online mentorship successful? What are the main differences in the organization of mentoring programs when meetings are held live, versus when they are held virtually? Is there any influence on the dynamics of the relationship? What actually led to that, and what prevented an online mentoring session from being successful?
All this will soon be discussed in an international publication we are preparing in cooperation with the Estonian Academy of Music and Theater, the University of the Basque Country, University of Antwerp, Latvian Academy of Culture, and Estonian Theatre for Young Audiences, and a network of organizations gathered in an international consortium dedicated to research and affirmation of mentoring in culture and arts.
If you are interested in receiving a copy of the publication when it is published, contact us at email@example.com.
This endeavor is being implemented under the “Reinventing Mentorship in Arts Management” (REMAM) initiative, supported by Erasmus +. You can find out more about the network on the official website of the project.