We are getting feedback on the Instant Mediations App, now downloadable on iOS and Android from the AppStore and Google Play Store. To address the questions we’ve received, we find it worthwhile to share in blog form answers to frequently asked questions, and to provide tips on using the App and explain its main functions. Part of the reason for educating about the App is because the whole concept of a “mediation app” is new. Some queries we’ve received from mediators focus on the concept of why such a tool exists, who the target audience is, and how they might benefit from using the App. If something has never existed before, or existed in a different format (ex. ODR software), then there will be questions and a need to explain and clarify.
What the Instant Mediations App is NOT
First, to bring some clarity, what is the App NOT? It is not another expensive and closed dispute resolution platform for mediators to adopt and learn, and train to their parties. That model has been attempted for years, but has never truly taken off on a large scale. The covid-induced pandemic has re-ignited the race to market ODR software to mediators, but the approach continues to be the same: rigid one-size-fits-all video-conferencing platforms promising to help mediators handle tasks like scheduling, collaboration, invoicing, and e-signing.
But mediators remain a diverse group, from many different jurisdictions, who prefer to use the online tools they already pay for. With the plethora of tools available on the market, another “Zoom” for online mediation may not be as important to the online mediator as a platform that helps bring order to the tools they already use and integrate them in a way that makes sense. Thus, the commodity of knowledge, in addition to tech, is a key ingredient that has been missing from past solutions in this space. The App addresses this.
What the App is Intended to be
The Instant Mediations App is meant to be:
- A bridge that connects mediators and parties, and serves as a neutral starting point for their common online mediation experience;
- A hub that seeks to aggregate the web-based tools most mediators already pay for and use to run their online mediation practices, and a system that promotes the interoperable use of those web-tools to create unique and customized e-mediation solutions;
- An extension of the InstantMediations site that meets the 5 core needs of online mediator entrepreneurs (get found, get booked, get paid, get mediating, get e-signatures), plus the 2 needs of any growing professional (get trained and get networked);
- A tool that brings legitimacy to the online mediation process on a broad scale, together with informative content and training that promote quality online mediations;
- Free to access basic content regardless of income-level to promote access to justice and lessen the digital divide.
- International in scope to expand the online mediator community and to promote the use of cross-border mediations to resolve disputes, especially among multicultural and multilingual parties.
Responses to Initial Questions About Key Features in the App (Version 1.1.1)
What is the language used in the App? The App is starting off in English (American). We wish to perfect its functionality in English before progressing to add additional languages, such as Spanish (Mexican) (coming soon). Additional languages will grow based on usage and feedback by mediators and participants. Note that the created Jurisdictions allow online mediators to converse in a specific language common in that jurisdiction. For example, German-speaking online mediators may prefer to dialogue in German and English in their German Jurisdiction group on the App. Argentinian mediators may prefer to connect with others in their Spanish.
What is the purpose of the Jurisdiction groups? We set up special groups for online mediators called Jurisdictions. We have discovered that any large global group, such as the Online Mediators Facebook Group, will suffer from a lack of participation by members when topics are so broad and universal, members do not get the practical knowledge they need to actually help their practice. Conversely, tuning in to topics so narrow to one jurisdiction, may be futile when the information cannot be applied to the matters in a different jurisdiction. For example, how does sharing a specific Florida mediation article in a global group necessarily help the online mediator in Nigeria do their best work? We’ve therefore developed Jurisdiction groups to fulfill 3 functions:
1. Promote collaboration among a smaller group of geographically local online mediators;
2. Establish brain-trusts of knowledge and information focused on the nuances and complexities common to mediation in specific localities;
3. Provide outsiders (non-jurisdiction members) with mediation referral groups at the state or country level, especially when language is an issue for participants.
More jurisdictions will continue to be added over time. Check back to see if your locality has made the list. If you wish to contribute toward leading the creation of your Jurisdiction, just connect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do I need to register for this App? To get the most use of the App you should register with your name and email address to create a free members account (note: you must be a mediator in good standing in your credentialing jurisdiction to register). Upon registering, you will receive a confirmation email, which will let you join jurisdictions, enroll in certain courses, and participate in the community. You may use your login details for both the InstantMediations App or website. You may opt to create your free Mediator Profile Page for the public and submit it for approval, but that is not necessary to participate as an online mediator member.
Does the App have Zoom built in? We intentionally choose not to integrate Zoom’s API into the App. The main reasons for this are that most online mediators already have the Zoom App on their devices, and most will utilize their computers for online mediation anyway, not their mobile phone or tablet. Another reason we opted not to build in Zoom is because we aim to remain platform-agnostic in order to help as many mediators and participants get online instantly no matter what platform they use. While the App (and website) right now is heavily centered around Zoom, over time we plan to publish more content that cater to Microsoft Teams, Cisco WebEx, and other platforms common to online mediators. Because Zoom is arguably the most popular platform online mediators utilize today, and because it’s wildly popular among mediation participants who require virtually no training, the Zoom Start Mediation button remains prominent on the site, along with public access to the instantmediations.zoom.us launch page. So whether a person uses their free 40-minute Zoom to conduct quick meetings or paid unlimited Zoom to conduct mediations, the App is for them. Whether they choose to use a different video-conference platform entirely, the App is still for them.
Who is this App geared towards? The app contains two zones – one for the Mediation Participants and the other for online mediators. While only Mediators are invited to log into the App and collaborate and train, mediation participants will find some useful resources there like the Technology Guide, General Guide, and the Guide For Family Law Mediations. These guides will grow over time for the benefit of new and returning online mediation participants. We want online mediators to direct their participants to this one concise set of guides containing all the valuable information participants need to prepare for and attend their quality mediations.
Download today, have a look, try it out, and message us with your thoughts.