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Coaching Modalities

To a large extent any technology can be used to support coaching however what is important is to ensure that it helps the coaching process rather than hinders it. One outcome of the Personalised Learning through Coaching (PLC) module was the recognition that the IT literacy of the coach and client need to be recognised and that both need to feel comfortable with any technology used in the coaching process. In addition while technology can enable the capture of coaching sessions for later analysis and review by both client and coach it also needs greater vigilance with regard to the security of such sessions. If a key tenet in the client / coach relationship is trust, integrity and cofidentialty then the use of most forms of technology means that both parties need to be more aware of the issues surrounding its use. For example social networking technologies and text based communication technologies are not necessarily secure. The Online Coaching Institute offer an Ethical Framework for the use of Technology in Coaching and one element of this does focus on the need for 'coaches to conduct an initial interview and evaluate the client’s ability to effectively engage in technology-enabled coaching'.


One way of categorising technologies for supporting coaching is:

  • Text based. Information is exchanged in textual format only. This can occur either in real time or asynchronously. Examples include email, instant messaging and chat.
  • Audio based. Technology supports an audio-only conversational interchange. Examples include telephone coaching (including mobile) and voice-only use of Skype. 
  • Video based. Technology supports both visual and audio conversational interchange. Examples include Skype (where video is used), Elluminate, Webex and Adobe Connect. 
  • Simulation. Interaction occurs in a virtual world, such as Second Life.


We used audio and video based coaching, in addition to face to face, in the course of the project. Although coaches felt that audio only offered an impoverished experience compared to face to face, student coachees found it useful and did not comment on the reduced modality of the approach. Video-based (assuming good bandwidth and participants who were comfortable with the technology) provided a richer experience and additionally enabled easy recording, allowing the student to keep a record of the session. 


We also used ePortfolios to support the coaching process and student reflection on it: Using an E_Portfolio to Support Coaching.


A review of the use of technology in coaching was presented at our final conference by John Gray. Slides and a video stream of the presentation are available.

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