Mentoring the Mentors

From December 12th to December 16th fourteen participants from the Train2Sustain partner countries Slovenia, Serbia, Greece and Austria, took part in the Learning Activity “Mentoring the Mentors”. The Learning activity was hosted by the Austrian NGO Art Mine and took place in Trofaiach, Austria. In this “Blended mobility of adult learners”, youth workers, teaching staff and CCI learned ways to deal with the rapidly changing demands and situations that have emerged since the Covid-19 pandemic. How can we teach people how to be creative online? How can we reach a wider audience using online tools? Above all, do we have the skills to move in the digital world, safely and adequately? Those were some of the questions the participants dealt with in this 5-day learning experience!

Learning principles of this Learning Mobility

First, where to start when it comes to learning, working and teaching online? On an international and national level, a number of frameworks, self-assessment tools and training programmes have been developed to describe the facets of digital competence for educators and to help them assess their competence and identify their training needs. The content of this Learning Activity was based on the European Framework for the Digital Competence of Educators (DigCompEdu). The real potential of digital technologies lies in shifting the focus of the teaching process from teacher-led to learner-centred processes. This, however, takes a lot of skills on the teaching and working side, which we wished to identify and increase.

Goals of the Learning Mobility

The role of a digitally-competent educator is to be a mentor and guide for learners and online users in their progressively more autonomous learning endeavors. In this sense, digitally-competent educators need to be able to design new ways of learning and sharing, supported by digital technologies. At the same time, everyone in the field of youth needs to provide guidance and support to learners, individually and collectively. How can they do that? They need to be able to initiate, support and monitor both self-regulated and collaborative learning activities. Moreover, the educator and e-mentoring role in art and creativity take a particularly sensitive role in a digital context. Digital culture and creativity were one of the most heavily affected areas during the pandemic’s lockdown, while taking a key role in self-expression, mental health and cultural heritage.

Methods and methodology

The workshop leaders put their focus on teaching/mentoring in open and learner-centred learning settings aiming to empower the target groups. By using a diverse range of methods and self-reflection tools, non-formal learning setting and tailored self-created online methods and tools, the participants were able to learn more about how:

  • to plan for and implement digital devices, tools and resources in the e-mentoring process
  • to enhance the effectiveness of non-formal pedagogic interventions
  • to appropriately manage and orchestrate digital tools for teaching/e-mentoring
  • to gain the necessary skills to do online distant learning with young people
  • to improve their knowledge about online and distant learning tools and online facilitation techniques
  • to experiment with and develop new formats and pedagogical methods for mentoring/teaching especially related to culture, art, creativity and cultural entrepreneurship
The direct target group of the Learning Activity

The workshops and activities were specially tailored for academic/educational/professional staff who work in cultural (heritage) education, education, art or culture. One prerequisite was that they are interested in upgrading their digital skills, measuring their current competences by DigCompEdu Framework and using its pedagogical and personal areas as indicators for learning. Indirectly affected are the participants’ organizations in their countries, as well as the people they work with and will work for in the future.

Results of the Learning Activity

The results of “Mentoring the Mentors” are manifold and especially valuable for the target group. The main results were to increase:

  • digital readiness
  • knowledge about handling and evaluating digital tools
  • skills for how to create learner-centered approaches and innovative practices in education (including e-mentoring)
  • their results in the DigiCompEdu
  • their awareness of digital devices and resources for e-mentoring and culture creation
  • their knowledge about how to effectively organize distance learning activities
  • their online facilitation techniques
  • the readiness to experiment with and develop new formats and methods for mentoring in creativity, art and culture
  • the readiness to explore digital ways for sharing and creating cultural and artistic content
  • the size/ intensity of their network of cultural institutions and cultural workers
  • their intercultural skills and interpersonal skills
  • the skills about self-reflection methodologies and how to teach / train self-reflection