October 1996

Root Page of Article: Mentoring and the Internet, by Ted Nellen

Electronic Emissary

A mentoring matching service exists at The University of Texas at Austin's School of Education. I became aware of this service on one of the listservs to which I subscribe. The mentor in this project worked with the entire class, instead of with an individual student as seen in the Adopt-A-Student program. I planned to have this mentor concentrate on a single aspect of the class, HTML writing, while I concentrated on the English curriculum. On my first visit to the Electronic Emissary homepage, I searched their database for a mentor for each of my two classes. I selected two individuals because of their HTML writing knowledge. Once our two mentors agreed to help my classes, the work began.

I set up two listservs for the English classes called Team One and Team Two. The members of each list consisted of the mentor, a representative from the Electronic Emissary, me, and the students. We carried on an open dialogue hosted by the mentor.

In Team Two, Cynthia Hollingsworth introduced herself and began the dialogue by asking my students, What is a HomePage? The dialogue was brisk and Ms. Hollingsworth provided a great deal of guidance.

In fact, her virtual presence in our class was very real. The students responded well and were generally pleased with her comments about their pages. They solicited advice from her. They came to respect the use of the mentor via the Internet in our classroom. As for me, it was delightful. She added a dimension neither I, nor any classroom teacher, could present. She knew the kids only through their work. She reacted differently but appropriately. It wasn't a "good cop, bad cop" scenario. She complemented and augmented my efforts. The students had choices which gave them power. And with this new-found power, the students grew, learned, and prospered. The students came to respect their classroom teacher more because of the mentor. --

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