E-Connections: Creating Online Mentoring in Social Work Education
Keywords:Mentoring, Distance education, Online study, Social work education, Student retention
The prospect of studying for a degree as an external or distance student has unlocked the potential for increasing numbers of students to qualify as social workers. However, undertaking education predominantly online is potentially an isolating experience. This paper documents findings from an online mentoring project trialled with Master of Social Work (MSW qualifying) students which aimed to enhance students’ connections with the university and with each other. The project framework was deliberately flexible and relied on a collaborative approach. The project found that MSW students utilise several strategies to build relationships with each other early in their student careers. Participation in online mentoring was influenced by practical issues, and the students’ need or desire for connection with peers, their priorities and communication preferences. Implications for the support of external students are discussed.
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