I’ve commented before on the wonderful work done by the Distance Mediation Project conducted by the Mediate BC Society in British Columbia.  As I’ve noted in this piece on e-mediation, they were the first to conduct serious evaluation on a carefully structured e-mediation project. Based on this experience, the Distance Mediation Project also composed a much-required set of practice guidelines for online mediation. The cherry on top of this was their assessing of the project’s environmental impact, which led the way for this study of ODR’s environmental advantages, which is detailed in this paper.

Now, the Distance Mediation Process has done it again! The final third phase of the project has been competed, and anyone doing anything related to ODR needs to take a look at the evaluation report on this phase, which is hot off the presses. The third phase incorporated elements which are likely to prove to be ‘hot’ issues in ODR in the near future, including payment for services and different models for doing so, and advancing from telephone/email based communication for mediation to a mixed-media approach favoring videoconferencing.

This report is yet another example of how the art and science of ODR can be advanced through bold experiment and rigorous evaluation. Don’t miss it. My thanks to Susanna Jani and the Mediate BC Society team, as always, for sharing this material so freely!




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Comment by Susanna Jani on April 6, 2013 at 12:38pm

Noam, we thank you for your kind comments! You may have seen that the current evaluation report asked project clients why they chose distance mediation - and, that "environmental reasons" (i.e., the environmental advantages of using this type of service) was selected by 12% of them. While our case number was small, I think this is still very significant and speaks to how some clients really do consider the environment in their choices.

For folks who are interested in seeing the previous reports published by our project, they are posted on Mediate BC Society's website at:  http://www.mediatebc.com/About-Mediation/Mediating-at-a-Distance.aspx.

Comment by Noam Ebner on April 9, 2013 at 7:35am

Susanna - course I noticed :-)

Question: Did those people check a box for a pre-existing choice of "environmental reasons"? Or, did they enter it of their own initiative, under "Other____" or suchlike?

Comment by Susanna Jani on April 9, 2013 at 1:11pm

Noam, the 12% refers to clients who checked a box for a pre-existing choice of "environmental reasons". To clarify, clients were asked to check all the reasons why they decided to participate in distance mediation instead of in-person mediation. The choices they were given were:

_ The other party and I live in different communities

_ I wanted to avoid travelling to and from mediation meetings to:

     _ save time

     _ save money

     _ for environmental reasons

_ I didn’t want to see the other party in person

_ The other party did not want to mediate in person

_ I couldn’t go to in-person mediation during working hours

_ The mediator fees for this service were less than the normal fees

_ I prefer to communicate using technology – it’s the norm for me

_ Other: ________


Clients were also asked the open-ended question, “In your opinion, what are the advantages of using information/communication technologies for mediation?”  Two (2) responded that the use of technologies avoids travel and therefore provides environmental benefits.

Comment by Colleen Getz on April 9, 2013 at 1:39pm
Just to comment further, Susanna and Noam -- I think that 12% of clients indicating they considered environmental factors in choosing the Project's mediation services (2 of whom volunteered further written comments along that line) is a very important observation!
The evaluation of this phase of the Project (this time conducted by Cathy Tait, a very capable and highly respected evaluator/consultant in this area) shows that, once again, Susanna and the project team did an amazing job developing new techniques and identifying the issues associated with e-mediation.  Although I had some input into the Practice Guidelines that resulted from the Project, I think I can still say (purely objectively!) that their work has been an important contribution to the field of ODR in general.  And they remain the trail-blazers in identifying ODR's environmental advantages!

Comment by Noam Ebner on April 9, 2013 at 9:14pm

Thanks - I remember that as I was reading, I was most taken by the 2 free-style respondents - a small percentage, but still an indicator that party environmental-awareness might be one of the reasons to highlight this advantage of ODR.

The Green Giant is growing. Giants aren't born eighty feet tall, but even before they mature they're still baby giants - right?


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