The Community Mentoring Program – Moving forward from 2020

by CMP coordinators, Associate Professor Michael Cowling (CQ University, Australia) and Dr Kwong Nui Sim (Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand).

It has been a privilege for us to work with the mentors and mentees in 2020 as Community Mentoring Program (CMP) coordinators. Building on our blog post from late 2020 which focused on the feedback we received and how it mapped to the goals of the program, this blog post will look at some of the additional feedback available to influence the direction of the CMP in the future, focusing on how we, as coordinators can add to those aspects of the program that mentors/mentees find most valuable.

The sharing from each member at the end of their one year CMP journey is more than encouraging and insightful. For example,

“As a Mentor, it is great to work with willing and enthusiastic designers looking to advance their careers. The adage is so true, that you can give a person a fish and feed them for a day, or you can teach them how to fish so they can feed themselves for a lifetime.” 


“Having a mentor is a golden opportunity to advance expertise and unpacking hidden areas in any profession that I wouldn’t be able to achieve without many years of experience. Therefore I think the CMP has created a shortcut for me to learn many things in less time. The CMP has also created a secure environment for me to ask questions and share weaknesses without any fear of being misunderstood. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with someone with a wealth of knowledge in learning design and share mutual values in the field of education. I look forward to continue working with Camille and maintain her collegiality and friendship.”

Therefore, in order to enhance the CMP members’ experiences, we as the coordinators are going to be taking the initiative to connect with the 2021 cohort as well as with the alumni cohort (2020) in the second half of the program. This idea emerged from the sharing of our members when they highlighted that:

“I especially enjoyed our Zoom check-ins with Kwong Nui, Michael, and other mentors and mentees, so I would love to attend more of those in future years.”

“It’s also helpful to connect to academics outside your institution and gain different perspectives.”

“Being relatively new to the tertiary sector, I had very few connections to communities of professionals, particularly outside of my current institution.”

“The CMP program has been a wonderful opportunity to connect across institutions and gain new perspectives, especially during such a disruptive year as we’ve had.”

Based on the following comment, we are also considering the idea of occasionally having separate get togethers for mentors and mentees respectively:

“Just one bit of feedback regarding CMP and the experience this year.  When we set up our agreement at the beginning of the year, the aim was to make it very much structured around A’s learning needs and how she wanted to develop as a professional. She and I have communicated frequently about this in our monthly meetings and check-ins to see how she wanted to navigate the year. However, the full CMP catch ups were a bit awkward for me because I didn’t feel like A might feel all right to speak freely if I was there or that I might end up speaking on her behalf. It might be good to have at least one or two mentor-only and one or two mentee only meetings.” 

We realise that there is a huge opportunity for the coordinators to further support the professional development of CMP members, such as by inviting them to contribute to ASCILITE blogs, webinars or even opportunities to showcase themselves beyond the ASCILITE arena. This is particularly significant when members commented that;

“The CMP mentorship has been an excellent opportunity for me to step away from the day-to-day tasks of my profession, and consider how I might grow as a practitioner.” 

“I’ve been able to develop not only my skills and understanding of learning design, but also my confidence operating in this area.”

“During our fortnightly zoom-discussions I learned how to better connect frameworks and theories in education research to practical examples, written out in a lesson plan. Moreover, by co-writing the paper for ASCILITE I learned how to put these discussions into a cohesive story.”

“Being seasoned in neuroscience, I noticed I struggled to publish on research that did not lean so heavily on quantitative data. Especially James’ suggestions and feedback on my first draft of the paper were invaluable.”

“Thanks to the expertise and guidance of my mentor, I was able to engage in the research process, successfully produce a piece of literature, present to professionals across the sector and establish a greater professional network.”

“ I have also welcomed having a regular meeting time with my mentor, who genuinely cares about my development and about the profession of educational design.”

It is noteworthy that the most rewarding of our coordinating role is to see mentor-mentee relationships strengthened over time and relationships continuing after the program ends. Not only did CMP members share this important outcome verbally in our recent webinar. but also in their written feedback. For instance;

“We initially adopted the traditional mentor-mentee roles and then adapted the roles to be more of a peer-mentorship relationship where we were comfortable guiding and being guided via a sharing of stories.  This is the most valuable part of this relationship – still growing but in different ways.”

So, based on feedback from the 2020 CMP sessions, our plan is to build an even closer network, not only between mentors/mentees, but between the entire cohort of CMP members, both past and present. This will include sessions with both mentors/mentees, as well as sessions for mentors only, as outlined by our members themselves. In doing so, we hope to expand our reach for the CMP and make mentoring a key activity for as many ASCILITE members as possible. Perhaps the sky is the limit! We can’t wait to welcome 2021 CMP members and see what will evolve during this hopeful year.

The call for EOIs in the 2022 CMP will be published on the ASCILITE website in late December 2021.

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