E-Connections: Creating Online Mentoring in Social Work Education


  • Melanie Hemy Griffith University
  • Donna McAuliffe Griffith University
  • Jane L Fowler Griffith University


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.

Author Biographies

Melanie Hemy, Griffith University

School of Human Services and Social Work

Donna McAuliffe, Griffith University

School of Human Services and Social Work

Jane L Fowler, Griffith University

School of Human Services and Social Work, Menzies Health Institute


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