In June 2006, the Australian Businesswomen’s Network (ABN) won a government grant to develop a national mentoring program for businesswomen as part of the Australian Government’s Building Entrepreneurship in Small Business program. The first program launch in January 2007 and continues to be conducted on a regular basis.
MentorNet was the first national mentoring program for women in business to be launched in Australia and the first to use Web2.0 technologies (blogs, wikis, social networks, webinars, photo-sharing and social bookmarking) to provide education and mentoring in an enriched technology enabled experience.
The MentorNet program provides an intimate business social network that supports entrepreneurial women to grow their businesses through education, networking, and mentoring over a period of six months.
The main benefit of MentorNet has been to overcome the geographical dispersion of its members, and to create a vibrant online community that is able to support and help Australian businesswomen wherever they are.
Ripple Effect (formerly Headshift) designed the social software in this learning context that was informed by the following assumptions:
• Participants want to communicate and collaborate with others;
• Participants enjoy networking with like-minded people;
• Participants will openly share their experiences;
• Participants look for recommendations and feedback from trusted resources;
• Participants will create their own knowledge by self-publishing; and
• Participants will manage their own learning by subscribing to information.
Ripple Effect design and built a blended selection of the most powerful social software options to create a rich learning environment for all participants. Live meetings are conducted through synchronous webinar technology that enables the participants to collaborate and share their experiences in real time.
The design of content was completely re-configured to reflect the core objectives of the program – a process that is now being commonly termed as Flip Learning. Consequently, the role of moderators, subject matter experts and webinar presenters was critical to the success of the program. Ripple Effect designed detailed training environments to provide the guidance necessary for the teams to be able to best deliver and support the MentorNet participants.