Using Mobile Communication Technologies in Student Mentoring: A Case Study
Mentoring programs have been used to inform undergraduate university students about employment opportunities, study directions and career choices by introducing the student participant to a personal ‘guide’ who has a similar study background. The personal guide, or mentor, is a university graduate and is currently employed in the relevant industry. This paper introduces examples of enhancing the mentoring process by integrating modern communication technologies into a mentoring program in a university environment. The program was conducted amongst first year information technology students within an Australian university. For the duration of the study, mentor-mentee pairs were given mobile phones with multimedia messaging service (MMS) functionality. Participants communicated with each other over a one-week period and were advised to incorporate visual information into the communication by a form of multimedia messaging.
The results of this study suggest that the integration of mobile phones with MMS functionality into the mentoring process can be beneficial, however there are also limitations. Using this type of technology to communicate brings about many issues relating to human computer interaction. These are discussed in detail in the paper. We suggest that the intensified, more frequent and often more informal interactions between the participants can result in a closer and relaxed relationship between the mentoring partners, allowing the possibility for deeper communication and a better learning atmosphere.