Maritime Mentoring Community Now Available: Sign up and Spread the Word.
The maritime mentoring initiative will either be an amazing and valuable resource to the entire industry, or it will quietly fade away. The difference will be determined primarily by how well we get the word out. Please help spread the word (oh yes - and do join as well!)
“The maritime mentoring initiative will either be an amazing and valuable resource to the entire industry, or it will quietly fade away. The difference will be determined primarily by how well we get the word out.” - please help (see “Spreading The Word”, below)
Last month I wrote an article suggesting the idea of an e-mentoring site for the maritime industry. I could never have predicted the outpouring of supportive responses, nor the number of people (over 180) who graciously volunteered to be the first mentors on the site. Well, I am thrilled to announce that after a lot of hard work the site is now ready for mentors and proteges at http://www.maritimementors.com/.
The purpose of this article is threefold:
- To ask you to spread the word to all of your maritime colleagues (see the copy/paste text below)
- To ask you to consider signing up to be a mentor (or protege if you are in need of a mentor)
- To tell you about the e-mentoring site and how it works
If you would like to receive e-mail notifications of these articles on maritime training (including some on this mentoring initiative), and have not already signed up, please do so here. You can unregister at any time.
If you believe in the value of this initiative, could I ask you to consider sending the text below (or any variant you like) to your maritime colleagues? E-mail it, post it, tweet it - anything. This small amount of help could make the difference between success (which could improve the industry in many ways), or failure (which would result in an unfortunate wasted effort and opportunity).
Subject: Mentoring the Next Generation of Maritime Workers
Dear Maritime Colleagues,
I wanted to tell you about an important mentoring initiative which has been launched for the entire maritime industry. It is called the “The International Maritime Mentoring Site” and is a 100% volunteer initiative to match maritime mentors with proteges working in the industry (or those wishing to do so). This initiative could help improve the maritime industry in so many ways.
Please visit the site at http://www.MaritimeMentors.com and consider becoming a maritime mentor (or protege, if you are in need of a mentor).
Finally - if you believe in this initiative, please spread the word by forwarding this message to all of your maritime colleagues.
If you want to share your years of experience and expertise as a maritime mentor, or if you are in need of a maritime mentor - we have the place for you. Please consider joining our site. It is easy, there is no obligation, and there is no cost (nor any reward other than a great deal of personal satisfaction at giving back to the industry).
- To sign up, simply go to the maritime mentoring site, and click “Sign Up” near the top right.
- If you want to list yourself as a mentor, (as opposed to being a protege), please click the “Register as a Mentor” icon in the middle of the page, fill out the form, and click the button at the bottom to save your information (remember - you have to be signed in to do this).
- Finally, please fill out your profile and add an image (any image will do) by clicking the “Edit” button on the right of the page.
The main purposes of the site are to:
- Create a world-wide directory of maritime mentors, including a description of their expertise, years of experience, location, languages spoken, etc.
- Provide a “Find a Mentor” function for proteges so that they can find mentors who match their career aspirations.
- Provide a venue where mentoring can take place - including one-on-one mentoring, group mentoring, and peer mentoring.
The maritime mentoring site is web-based. This has both significant advantages as well as some drawbacks. The advantages include:
- A hugely increased opportunity to find and be a mentor given the world-wide nature of the mentor database and the fact that the relationship is no longer constrained by location and time.
- Mentorship relationships can be long lasting even if the parties move vessels, retire, etc.
- The ability to search the mentoring database to find the best matching mentors.
- Increased opportunities to interact with mentors, peers and proteges.
- The ability to share resources (such as websites, documents and advice) with the entire mentoring community.
However, the main drawbacks of the system being web-based are that some mariners are not yet comfortable using a computer, and many will not be able to access the site while working on board (other than possibly through e-mail). These are significant drawbacks. However, we decided to go ahead even though we will not be able to reach 100% of the community because the opportunity for benefit was simply too strong. We felt it better to make whatever progress we could, even if not perfect, rather than do nothing at all. Over time, we hope to continually improve both access and ease of use - with the eventual goal of making the site of value to every mariner in the world.
When a mentor joins the site, he or she is asked to register as a mentor. When doing so, they are asked for various bits of information including their areas of expertise, languages spoken, years of experience, etc. This information allows proteges to find mentors who match the career aspirations they have.
Once the mentor is registered, a mentoring group is created for them. This is the group their proteges will join. It provides an area for discussions with his or her proteges, as well as an avenue to share resources, ask questions, create polls, make announcements, etc.
When a protege would like to find a mentor, they click on an icon labeled “Find a Mentor”. There they are asked to indicate what qualities they are looking for - such as experience areas, languages spoken, etc. The site then searches the mentor database for any mentor matching at least one of the desired attributes. The resulting mentors are then listed for the protege, in order from the best match to the most minimal match.
The protege can look through the matched mentor profiles to see which mentors look most appropriate. They can then initiate contact with the potential mentor using the site’s messaging mechanisms. Through this discussion, both mentor and protege can determine whether they believe a good experience and personality match has been found. If so, the protege is invited to join the mentor’s group and mentoring begins.
Once a mentoring relationship has been established, mentoring can proceed in a variety of ways. There is no incorrect way to mentor, so long as the relationship is respectful, supportive, and productive for both mentor and protege.
Some will choose to communicate through the mentoring site using the messaging system or the discussion areas of the mentoring group. Others will choose some external mechanism such as e-mail, telephone, or Skype. Still others may actually see one another in person, if that option is available.
In addition to these mentor-protege interactions, the site also has an area for general discussions and support among the entire site membership. Here, questions can be asked and answered, polls can be conducted, and information can be shared. Ultimately, all of these interactions will form a knowledge base that future generations of mentors and proteges can draw upon.
Finally, I would like to conclude this article with some text I wrote previously about e-mentoring. It is apropos here, so please pardon the duplication if you have read it before.
Web-based mentoring (or e-mentoring) is simply mentoring which is facilitated by a web-based application. The main idea, of course, is that traditional mentoring relationships are constrained by time and distance - the mentor and protege must meet at a time and location available to them both. This greatly limits the opportunity to find mentors and maintain a mentoring relationship.
E-mentoring overcomes these barriers. It provides tools for mentors and their proteges to interact without having to meet face-to-face, or for that matter, without even having to be available at the same time. This greatly increases the domain of available mentors for a protege since the mentor could be located anywhere in the world (even in a significantly differing time zone), as long as both parties have reasonable internet access. While it is true that not all mariners do have reliable and continuous access to the internet, the numbers are growing and most certainly have reached a point where e-mentoring is more than viable.
Another benefit of e-mentoring is that it greatly enables opportunities for group-based mentoring. Most mentoring is done one-on-one. Even so, in some cases it is more efficient and more appropriate to conduct mentoring as a group (one mentor, several proteges). In the past, even when it was appropriate to engage in group mentoring, it has been especially difficult because the problems of time and distance constraints are made all the more complex when there are more than two people involved. E-mentoring, because it removes the constraints of time and location, makes group-based mentoring no more complex than one-on-one mentoring. This makes group mentoring a possibility which effectively did not previously exist. While group-based mentoring does not replace one-on-one, it can greatly improve mentoring efficiency, allowing one mentor to accommodate more proteges. It also creates the opportunity for peer-mentoring - proteges exchanging knowledge and experience to learn from one another.
Aside from those differences, the nature, outcomes and effectiveness of the mentoring interactions are the same for e-mentoring and traditional (face-to-face) mentoring. The only real difference is that e-mentoring interactions are far more flexible in nature, and the field of potential mentors is infinitely larger. Both are good things.
Thanks so much for everything you either already have done, or will do, to support this important initiative. If you would like to receive e-mail notifications of these articles on maritime training (including some on this mentoring initiative), and have not already signed up, please do so here. You can unregister at any time.
And as always, have a wonderful day.
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About The Author:
Murray Goldberg is the founder and President of Marine Learning Systems (www.marinels.com), the creator of MarineLMS - the learning management system designed specifically for maritime industry training. Murray began research in eLearning in 1995 as a faculty member of Computer Science at the University of British Columbia. He went on to create WebCT, the world’s first commercially successful LMS for higher education; serving 14 million students in 80 countries. Now, in Marine Learning Systems, Murray is hoping to play a part in advancing the art and science of learning in the maritime industry.