Mentoring as a Student:
Fall 2004 Independent Study

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By Amanda Cochran

When I was given the opportunity to mentor for Writing for the Internet in the fall of 2004, I thought I was prepared for the challenges that would surface. After all, I had already taken the course and I knew, or supposedly knew what the material would entail.

After reviewing the course outline, however, I found that everything had changed and that I had many new things to learn. I focused on blogs during my independent study research project, but I was also introduced to other elements of online culture, such as interactive and hypertext fiction, and various methods of online authoring.

The students in the class were very accomodating to me. After eating several slices of humble pie, I began to see that I, though an instructor and an authority figure, could and should learn from my classmates, in additon to instructing.

When I was posting this page, for example, I had to get instruction on how to post images. Victoria Mara kindly instructed me to insert the HTML directory into the source on Frontpage Express. Last year, I produced my final project with the grand version of Frontpage, so I did not know what to do. I thank her for the assistance, and the rest of the class.

Not only was I learning about the technological advancements of online culture, but I was also learning how to work with students as a leader. Over the semester, I did attempt to assist the class in any way I could, answering e-mails, offering one-on-one help, and encouraging the forlorn student when the "verb cannot be recognized."

Perhaps the best part of my experience during my independent study was listening, just like the rest of the students. I attended all classes, and interjected my experiences, intermingling with theirs. I learn best this way, and I was amazed at how advanced the students are in online knowledge, both as a webloggers and web authors. In fact, I was more a student this semester than mentor, learning every day from my peers. This was not, in any way, a negative learning experience.

Updated by Amanda Cochran 12-07-04.