iveBeenThere's use of cross-age mentors is distinguished from peer mentors in that they require an age difference between the mentor and the mentee, enough for the mentee to look up to the mentor while at the same time seeing him or her as a peer. iveBeenThere seeks to provide learning through cross-age mentorship between 8th graders/freshmen in high school and older teens who are currently in high school (upperclassmen) or have recently graduated. Mentorship has increasingly been used in recent years for social learning and research has reported the benefits of such relationships especially for early adolescents. (Freedmen, 1993) This app seeks to build on the benefits of mentoring through videos as a medium of access to advice and information.
Whenever and Wherever Access
“First, mobile technologies ‘afford’ real-time information whenever and wherever learners need it.” (Lai, et al., 2007) Access to information, advice and resources are not dependent on time or place. A young teen can find answers to questions without being constrained by the school day or being able to find a reliable person. This is especially important when dealing with potentially sensitive topics such as eating disorders, drug abuse, or self injury. With teens who might otherwise act impulsively, having accurate information and resources available immediately could avoid possible unfortunate situations. For example, a teen with a friend in danger of harming themselves has a place to go to find help and information.
Private and Safe
“With an app, you have the ability to find out things without telling anyone. And no one knows, so it’s like, no harm, no foul.” -Christophe (one of iBT’s teen mentors) Worrying about peer reaction to problems or questions can cause young people to keep their questions to themselves. Having a private and safe place to go alleviates this anxiety. Christophe also talked about feeling that some questions he had were trivial, not wanting to waste a counselors or other adults time with them. With iBT, users can find out information related to any topic without this concern. If there are no videos currently available on a particular topic, there will be a way to anonymously suggest topics for future videos.
The power of iveBeenThere lies in the learning potential provided by video. In “It’s Not Television Anymore: Designing Video for Learning and Assessment”, Schwartz and Hartman describe four possible learning outcomes as a result of the use of video.
“A signature quality of video is that it can help people see things they could not see before.” (Schwartz and Hartman, 2007)Users have the opportunity to watch an older teen share their personal experiences. A new high school student may have anxiety about making friends. Watching an older peer talk about their story of making friends allows the user to see ways to lessen this fear they may not have considered previously.
“Engagement may be characterized as the pull that brings people to a situation or topic and keeps them involved.” (Schwartz and Hartman, 2007)The same student who went to iveBeenThere to lessen his anxiety about making friends comes back to the app for advice about how to deal with peer pressure as he considers attending his first high school party. He identifies with the teen mentor he watched before and wants to know what he has to say about this topic.
“Video is ideal for presenting human behaviors. There are two quite different subclasses of “doing outcomes”–those involving attitude and those involving skills. For attitudes, people readily learn by modeling other people’s behaviors. People can model other people so well that learning can be unintentional..” (Schwartz and Hartman, 2007)The power of peer influence can not be underestimated. Negative outcomes of peer pressure are often highlighted. iveBeenThere offers the opportunity to capitalize on positive effects of peer influence. A user considering being sexual for the first time may be more likely to use protection because of the teen mentor’s advice.
“Whereas the other outcomes tap into the unique strengths of visual media, “saying” outcomes–verbal or “declarative” knowledge–can be achieved by many media. Nevertheless, video is also good in this realm.” (Schwartz and Hartman, 2007) More than listening to advice and personal experiences, users will be exposed to factual information related to various topics. Teen mentors will relay information about alcohol, drugs, sexuality, and other social issues. Users, in turn can share this factual information with their peers and eventually have the opportunity to become teen mentors themselves.