Within the context of online learning, an academic mentoring system helps to prevent participants from dropping out, and to ensure effective learning throughout the course. Alongside a personalised career coaching programme, it forms one of the central pillars of EDHEC Online’s “distance learning without the distance”, a concept founded on supporting every learner. To find out more, we met with Sandra Cimbolini, an online mentor working daily with participants in EDHEC’s online courses.
What does your role as Academic Mentor involve?
Sandra Cimbolini: In the context of distance learning, the lack of face-to-face classes can limit potential interaction with the teacher. To mitigate this, Academic Mentors lead virtual classes at the end of each section of the course and answer, in real-time, any questions that participants have about their classes. At EDHEC, we support learners throughout the entirety of their online learning and do everything we can to help them successfully complete their courses, right up to receiving their diplomas (when applicable). This is the secret to our 97% programme completion rate, much higher than the rate for MOOCs.
“Academic Mentors lead virtual classes at the end of each section of the course and answer, in real-time, any questions that participants have about their classes.”
Which courses are you involved in?
SC: I am involved in the Online Manager Programme, in accounting and management control. I am a chartered accountant — I have worked in both practice and industry and am now working independently as a sub-contractor for an accountancy firm. My experience allows me to give learners a practical and fact-based perspective. At the same time, I have been teaching at EDHEC for five years, allowing me to fully understand the educational dimension of mentoring, even when it is remote.
How do you support students day-to-day?
SC: On a day-to-day basis, I support students by answering their questions about the course as quickly as possible. I also correct the online exercises on our platform — my goal is to teach students to research and think for themselves before looking at the answer sheet. I find that this is more effective for learning. Sometimes I also offer additional exercises. Students mainly come to me about points brought up in the video classes which they haven’t — or have only partially — understood. Because everyone has a different knowledge base, some concepts need to be clarified verbally. Some learners sometimes also ask me for insights into topics which haven’t been mentioned in class.