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The Second Forum of the Online Mediation Training Task Force took place April 30 and centered directly on new and emerging issues of online mediation and the training of mediators online.
The effects of COVID-19 has meant that not only is nearly all mediation now taking place online, nearly all mediation training is now taking place online. This is true whether the ultimate intended mediation is “face-to-face” or “online” mediation, and is true globally. As a result, “every mediation case is now also an online mediation case" (whether the participants get physically together for some discussions or not).
This Forum first considered how COVID-19 has changed the world of mediation, mediators and participants, including specific consideration of the family, elder, workplace and public policy mediation sectors. We explored evolving and effective online mediation and facilitative approaches for practitioners programs, and trainers. Challenging new issues such as privacy, security, new ethical challenges, training techniques, technical enhancements and imbalances and the "digital divide” were also addressed.
This Forum considered:
- What does this mean for the mediation field when historic mediation training and ethical standards were developed in and for a "non-internet" world
- What does it mean for the field of mediation if “every mediation case is now an online mediation case?”
- What do all mediators need to know about mediating online?
- How should our mediation programs and trainings be adapted to the new online mediation reality?
- Might working and training online enhance access for participants, observations, co-mediation, mentorships and apprencticeships?
There are many fascinating issues regarding the extent to which new and experienced mediators can achieve their required and desired training online. How much of one’s training can a mediator reasonably accomplish online? All? What does that mean for those training mediators online? Does that training need to be “live” or can it be recorded? And if a mediator plans to only mediate online, s it fair to require this “online mediator” to get their mediation training “face-to-face”? Is in-person training that teaches online mediation skills effective?
Thinking “big picture,” our opportunities and abilities to reach the masses with capable mediation have never been greater. Mediation is ultimately about communication, not about whether we are physically together at a certain time and place. This Online Mediation Training Forum, and our other forum sessions, will help us discern how mediation, mediators mediation programs and mediation trainers can respond to these unprecedented opportunities for the expansion, improvement and elevated relevancy of mediation in our rapidly changing world.