Using Mentorship and E-Learning Together to Get the Best Results

Damian Hehire-learning, General

Using Mentorship and E-Learning Together to Get the Best Results

In e-learning development projects, a lot of effort and focus is on achieving training objectives, maximising knowledge retention rates, and optimising learner engagement. The quality and structure of your e-learning courses are crucial in each of these training metrics, but you don’t have to rely on the e-learning course alone. Other strategies can also help, with one of the best being mentorships.

 There are many different ways you can use mentoring in your organisation. The focus in this blog is using mentoring as part of your training strategy. In other words, assigning mentors to help learners acquire and then apply new skills and knowledge.

  In many situations, using a twin-track approach of mentoring and e-learning will deliver the best results.

With e-learning, you can provide engaging training content to learners where and when it suits them best to consume it. The mentoring element can then run alongside, providing learners with support, guidance, and encouragement from experts and more experienced colleagues.

In other words, mentors help learners to apply the skills and knowledge acquired in e-learning courses to real-world situations.

Blended Learning Using Mentoring and E-Learning

Blended learning is often referred to as combining e-learning with instructor-led training. However, it can also be effective when the blend is e-learning and mentoring.

This style of blended learning is an extension of the 70:20:10 learning model. The 70:20:10 learning model describes how learners acquire new knowledge and skills:

  • 70 percent is learned when using skills to complete tasks
  • 20 percent is learned by observing others
  • 10 percent is learned from training activities, i.e., e-learning courses

In some situations, the e-learning requirement is higher than 10 percent. Whatever the exact split, though, the 70:20:10 model doesn’t devalue e-learning. This is despite the fact the digital learning element is the smallest part. This is because the e-learning element more often than not comes first.

In other words, you can’t get to the observation and doing parts of the model until you go through the e-learning course stages.

Benefits of Using Mentorship and E-Learning Together for Skills Development

  • Improves the depth of understanding in learners, as the mentoring elements will add context, refinement, and relevance to the knowledge acquired in e-learning courses
  • The guidance provided by a mentor can be highly personalised to the individual learner. E-learning courses can be personalised to an extent too, but not to the same level that a conversation between a learner and mentor can be personalised.
  • Improves the ability of learners to apply what they have learned in e-learning courses to their day-to-day work. For example, mentors can help make the information and skills relevant to the daily experience of learners.
  • Having a mentor gives learners someone they can turn to when they are unsure about something or if they have a question or concern. A mentor will also know the learner better than an instructor, so can provide more personalised support.
  • Having a mentor enhances learner confidence, especially the confidence they have in applying the new skills and knowledge.
  • Improves engagement in the training programme which, in turn, helps achieve your training objectives. One of the reasons why learner engagement can be improved with mentoring is the fact the learner will feel they have an added layer of support.
  • Using a combination mentorship and e-learning approach in your training strategy can break down silos in the organisation and help staff increase their internal network.
  • Increases return on investment for your training programme, including ROI on the e-learning course.

 All the above points lead to an improvement in the learner experience.

The benefits of using mentorship and e-learning together is not a one-way street, either, as mentors also benefit from the mentoring and e-learning approach. Mentors can also experience improved levels of self-confidence, and they can enhance their leadership skills. Communication and listening skills can also be enhanced. The skills and knowledge the mentor is responsible for imparting can even be improved as part of the mentorship experience, not least because they will benefit from a different perspective.

Tips for Establishing a Combined Mentorship and E-Learning Approach

  • Spend time matching mentors and learners.
  • Provide training to mentors. It is also beneficial to communicate the benefits of mentoring to the mentors. Not just the benefits to the organisation and learners, but also the benefits to mentors.
  • Don’t cut corners with the e-learning content by assuming any shortfall can be made up by mentors. This approach works best when both the e-learning content and mentoring element are fully optimised.
  • Get mentors and learners to agree on what they want to achieve. For example, what goals and outcomes do they want to achieve. Setting timelines is also important.
  • Mentors and learners should also agree how they will manage the relationship. How will ad hoc communications be conducted, how often will they meet, etc.

Mentoring and E-Learning Are Both Good, But Together They Are Better

Mentorship can deliver multiple benefits to your organisation. Similarly, e-learning is a highly effective training delivery method for many courses and topic areas. However, you can enhance both by combining them in a structured e-learning and mentorship programme.