Social Impact in Personalized Virtual Professional Development Pathways
Hazel Owen, Ethos Consultancy NZ / CORE Education
Rick Whalley, CORE Education
Merryn Dunmill, CORE Education
Heather Eccles, Independent
This article presents exploratory research into an education-based virtual mentoring provision, the Virtual Professional Learning and Development (VPLD) program, and uses the Elements of Value Pyramid to help frame findings in a way that highlights the participants’ (mentors’ and mentees’) perceived value of working together. Participants were educators and education leaders based within primary and secondary schools and kura in Aotearoa New Zealand. Drawing on principles of phenomenology, the four authors/virtual mentors used self-study to unpack their “lived experience,” and draw on previous case study data that focused on the VPLD program. By building on the benefi ts, while also working within the constraints, of the virtual environment, the mentors were able to adapt their mentoring skills and approaches to answer the questions, “Without the face-to-face collaborative, empathic, and full sensory human experience, how can virtual mentors be responsive to diversity among mentees?” and “What approaches support the raising of collaborative understandings, the recognition and acknowledgement of assumptions, the exploration of protocols, and the respectful engagement with the languages, cultures, and identities of self and others?” Findings, although related to virtual mentoring in the school sector, have relevance for higher education, especially aspects such as workload. Overall, the findings indicate that the culturally responsive, highly fluid approach of the mentoring partnership meant that participants felt they 1) participated in initiatives where they had a social impact, 2) had a strong sense of hope and belonging, 3) had access to people, skills, and strategies that helped increase their motivation and self actualization, and 4) had access to multiple professional and personal development pathways.