implementing LFM mentoring

From: Marc Siegel - NASA K-12 IITA Program <>
Subject: implementing LFM mentoring
Date: Tue, 27 Aug 1996 17:14:35 -0700 (PDT)

Hello folks,
I just cannot believe that the summer is over.  For you, that means
that youngsters are already in class.  For me it means that the
summer's relaxed "let's develop LFM" mode is giving way to a more
hectic "let's operate LFM".  Wah!  I want it to be June again.

Anyway, I am writing to follow up on your suggestions for
organizing a PTK mentoring program to help folks who are new
to the Electronic Field Trip / online teaching environment.  I've got
an idea on how to go forward with this.  I'm hoping to articulate this
proposed approach and then get feedback from ya'll on what seems

Essentially I see the matchmaking between mentors and mentees
happening manually. Ie someone from my group will read the
incoming requests for mentors and offers to serve as mentors.  We'll
then match people up one by one.  I'm concerned about trying to
automate the process too much since I doubt we can fully describe a
good matching algorithm enough to automate it, and I fear some
automatic process that doesn't work perfectly will just alienate the
very people who have raised their hand needing help.

So we'll put info on the Web describing our need for mentors and our
offer to find mentors.  As well, people will read about the service
when they first sign up for the updates-lfm list.  And for those
already subscribed, I'll include a write-up in an upcoming 
updates-lfm message.

So that is the basic approach.  Let people learn about the service in
various ways.  Then match them manually.

The other question I have is what info should I be asking of mentors
and mentees to help match them up.  My guess is that the less the
better, and if I ask for grade level taught and attempt to match folks
with that as the main criteria, it will work best.  Please set me
straight if you see it otherwise. 

As alternatives to a manual one-to-one system, we could
1) have a form where people could register themselves as mentors
and their info automatically goes online for the world to see.  People
wanting mentors could tap into the list and write to the individual
who appeals to them.  When mentors have accumulated enough people
to help, they take their name offline themselves.  In this way, the
service is a bit more like self-service.  This seems workable as well.
2) Invite people to use the discuss-lfm list as a place to air their
specific concerns, where they can hopefully be addressed by a large
group of experts.  This doesn't sound so good to be because group
mentoring doesn't sound like it meets the need I heard expressed in
Washington.  As well, it will further clog up discuss-lfm with mail that may become awfully specific and uninteresting to may folks.

So if you have an opinion or idea, please shoot me an email so I can
implement a system that best fits your needs.

Thanks, Marc