In August / September 2016, PLUS carried out user studies in the User Experience Lab at the University of Salzburg. The studies took place in order to explore how the mutual agreement tool supports the initial phase (i.e., the negotiation of mutual agreements) in the collaborative relationship between mentor and mentee and what kind of user experience factors (e.g., social presence) influence the success of the negotiation process. A second goal was to identify usability problems and to develop suggestions for improvement.
Participants, who could imagine getting active as a mentor (providing support for others) and mentees were matched beforehand, according to the interests and expertise and were invited pairwise, however communicated over distance (positioned in two different rooms). Thereby, they could choose between different modes of communication, i.e., chat, video, and audio call. They were asked to negotiate at least three mutual agreements by using the mutual agreement tool.
Overall 16 participants (8 mentors and 8 mentees) took part in the lab studies, 10 were male and 6 were female. Participant´s age ranged from 25 to 75 years with an average age of the mentors of 50.8 and of the mentees of 34.9 years.
Results show that users consider the platform useful and easy to use. However, we could also identify potential for improvement, particularly with regard to the communication tools provided by the platform. Most of the participants used the chat to establish the first contact to their collaboration partner, however were not satisfied and subsequently switched to the video/audio call. Moreover, all pairs achieved common ground defining the mutual agreement over the course of their conversation, i.e., they discussed and settled at least 2-3 agreements. Hence, the mutual agreement tool proved useful and beneficial to start up a collaborative relationship between mentor and mentee.
As a next step, we will further explore the usefulness of the platform by means of a field trial via period of 10-12 weeks, starting in February 2017.
ProMe was selected to present at the TechAAL conference, held in London, on 24th October 2016. TechAAL, now in its second year, is an international conference highlighting technologies which support independent living of older adults.
ProMe was invited to present the platform after submitting a paper titled ‘A Mentoring Platform for Older Adults Using Machine Learning Techniques for Supporting the “Live and Learn” Concept’.
The presentation described the platform and its benefits to an audience of 40 delegates representing universities and research institutes from across Europe.
Andrew Kent from Inventya presenting at AALTech 2016 conference
ProMe exhibited at the Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) Forum 2016 to showcase an updated and integrated version of the platform. It is the second time that project partners have exhibited at the forum, which took place between 26th to 28th September 2016 in St Gallen, Switzerland.
Delegates were demonstrated the latest developments of the platform which included integrated communication tools (video, email and chat), improved content interface, mentoring guidance materials (tool pool) and a fully integrated matching system.
The AAL Forum is an annual event that promotes innovative ICT technological solutions which enhance the lives and functional capabilities of older adults. It attracts researchers, technologists, start-up companies, investors, policy makers, health professionals, care associations and older adults. This year the forum was a huge success, with 39 exhibitors, 39 matchmaking meetings, 30 interactive sessions and more than 450 delegates participating.
ProMe’s participation in the event was fruitful with 15 delegates registering an interest in receiving further information about the platform and indicating they would like to participate in the project pilot study.
In August 2016 the ProMe platform will be tested with potential end users at the Center for Human Computer Interaction at the University of Salzburg.
The main focus of the study is to investigate how Mentors and Mentees can be supported via the platform in the early beginning of their collaborative relationship and to identify usability problems. 20 Mentor-Mentee pairs are taking part.
This study is an important step towards the user studies in the field, which will start in September 2016. More than 100 users in the Netherlands, Austria, Romania and the UK will have the opportunity to try out the platform via a period of 2-3 months.
Recent test of the ProMe video conferencing system
On the 2nd June 2016 the Center for Human-Computer Interaction at the University of Salzburg presented a variety of projects for a group of older adults, who were alumni from a telecommunication school. The group were very interested in advancements in communication and collaboration technologies, in particular for older adults.
The project idea of ProMe was presented and the participants got insights about the different communication and collaboration possibilities the platform provides. The presentation was followed by an interesting and also critical discussion that encouraged us to further reflect upon the relevance of personal contact in virtual relationships.
The group being Welcomed by ProMe Project Manager Katja Neureiter and being presented the ProMe Platform
UC Leuven Limburg, one of the partners of the ProMe project held a Community of Practice around Mentoring, Coaching, Intervision, team coaching, etc… called “Coaching & Co”. The event took place on 24th March in Leuven as a place for all teachers, researches and managers in the organization to learn from and with each other around Mentoring and Coaching. The idea is to develop this network further and take and further develop Mentoring and Coaching practice towards students but also towards staff as part of management practice.
As a University College in the business of ‘learning’, mentoring and coaching practices are important levers for learning. The University envisages the use of the ProMe platform to strengthen the mentoring and coaching practice in several ways:
It could be the ‘online platform’ to support the activities of our Community of Practice (currently use Yammer to support ‘Coaching & Co’ on line)
It could be a powerful tool to coach our students during their internship
It could be a way for interns to find (outside the school) mentoring assistance from experienced professionals
It could be a way for starting teachers to find (within our outside) mentoring form other more experienced teachers
It could be a way to keep retired teachers as mentors involved with teacher training
To develop coaching and mentoring practice at the University College Leuven a Kick-off event “Coaching & Co” was held on 24th March in Leuven. The University College Leuven, one of the ProMe project partners, is developing a mentoring and coaching programme and used this event to develop further practice and engage with teachers, researches and managers.
During the day the following took place:
Participants were asked to reflect up front on what experience or issues around mentoring and coaching they would like to share with others or get peer coaching on
At the start of the event the participants were asked to choose a ‘picture’ from a wall that resonated with them and then sit with others around that picture, start to share and foremost start to connect.
Next step was a ‘speed dating’ exercise where colleagues could meet others and learn from each other how their coaching or mentoring practice looked like
Following that participants engaged in an intervision session where people got peer coaching on issues they encounter during their coaching or mentoring work, with students or with employees
After having an experience with group coaching people were offered a real experience with one on one coaching using the GROW methodology (with a tool that is also part of the ProMe Toolbox)
From these experiences participants were engaged in a brainstorm on how this community of practice could and should evolve further.
At the end of the day an ‘internal market’ was created where people could request help from colleagues or where they could offer to share something. A few examples: who wants to start an intervision group, I did research on coaching and am willing to share the results in a workshop, etc…
The next step is to continue to share tools and information in the network and a number of people came forward to design the next network activity in the fall. Also some participants are taking smaller initiatives linked to what was launched during this Network kick-off.
This is the first step in creating connection between people and their experience which will allow us to develop our mentoring and coaching practice further and part of that further development could be the implementation on the online ProMe platform to support our mentoring and coaching activities.
You can view a slide show of pictures from the event below:
On Monday 4th April 2016 ProMe exhibited at AgeCamp 2016 in Halifax, United Kingdom.
The event was held to discuss issues about working with and supporting older people. Workshops and seminars were held to problem solve, launch new ideas, get support for projects, forge collaborations and test products.
Andrew Kent from Inventya gave a short presentation about the ProMe project and showcase the platform to the 50 delegates in attendance. The platform was well received with delegates expressing an interested in participating in the users trials which will be held towards the end of 2016.
The National Foundation for the Elderly, in the Netherlands, recently hosted an end user testing session for the ProMe platform. Four couples participated providing feedback about the platform and its functionalities.
The youngest mentee was 18 years old and the oldest mentor was 65 years old. Participants tested the platform and provided positive comments about the benefits it will have for users. They also provided feedback on how the navigation of the site could be improved.
End user testing will continue into the New Year. If you would like to participate in testing the platform please contact the ProMe Project Manager Katja Neureiter. You can find contact details for Katja on the contact us page.