In March 2012 Mediate.com published my article “Mediation Skills Development Around the World - with Skype”. It was about Virtual Mediation Lab, a pilot project sponsored by the Association for Conflict Resolution – Hawaii Chapter, which started in November 2011 with one goal and one underlying idea.
- Goal. To show how mediators around the world can practice and improve their mediation skills by participating – with other mediators – in online mediation simulations with Skype.
- Underlying Idea. The more mistakes mediators make (or observe) during mediation simulations, the better – the faster they learn.
Fifty online mediation simulations later – run with 62 mediators from 22 countries -- this is what we found out: It works.
On June 6, 2012 we posted the results of the pilot project Virtual Mediation Lab on our website http://www.virtualmediationlab.com They consist of 2 parts.
Part 1 – Interviews with VML Mediators
We asked some mediators around the world who participated in our simulations:
- What did you expect when you signed up for VML?
- Were your expectations met?
- How did you like participating in simulations with mediators from different states or countries?
- What did you learn or discover during our simulations?
- Would you like VML to continue? And if so, with which additional features?
Part 2 – A 9-Page Report
Titled “Results of the ACR Hawaii Pilot Project Virtual Mediation Lab — Mediation Skills Development Around the World with Skype”, our pdf report shares how VML mediators answered by email, during our debrief sessions or through our Exit Surveys questions like these:
- What parts of our simulations did you find most useful – the 1-hour mediation session, the 30/60-min debrief, the video recording of your simulation? And why?
- How did you react when during our simulations you realized that there are so many different methods for mediating the same case – in addition to the method you learned during your basic training?
- How was your experience with Skype – particularly if you had never used it before? Was Skype sufficiently reliable, easy and simple to use? Now that you know how Skype works, are you going to use it in your mediation practice or within your mediation association?
- During our simulations you also had the opportunity to see by yourself what online mediation looks like. Was it easier or more difficult than you had anticipated?
The Bottom Line Question About VML Simulations -- Useful or Waste of Time?
After each of our 50 simulations we asked all 3 mediators/participants to grade the usefulness of their simulation on a scale from 1 (it was a waste of time) to 10 (it was very useful). Here are the results.
- The average grade for the 20 simulations run in Italy was 9.7
- The average grade for the 30 simulations run in the USA (and in the rest of the world) was 9.9
How VML Simulations Work
To get a better sense of how our online mediation simulations with Skype work, you can watch a new 5-min video posted on our website. It is based on an actual simulation we ran on May 31, 2012 with mediators in Scotland, Israel and Brazil.
ACR Hawaii is planning a series of events to elaborate on the results of Virtual Mediation Lab. These will be held in Honolulu later this year.
Phase 2 of Virtual Mediation Lab
Given the positive feedback received from mediators around the world who participated in the pilot phase of our project, VML will continue. For more information about the new conditions and additional features (e.g. comediation, multiple mediation sessions, and video sharing with other VML mediators) of VML Phase 2 visit our website.