Rethinking Learning
conversations about the future of teaching and learning
Barbara Bray
be creative, innovate, take risks, unlearn to learn

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What is eCoaching?
By Barbara Bray    April 6, 2009 -- 07:42 PM

You may think that eCoaching is online coaching. It is more than that. Are you a trainer, a mentor, and/or coach? You can provide online coaching support for others if you determine their purpose for being online. This is not as easy as it may sound.

When you look at your organization and where you fit in it, is it working? Has everyone defined their learning goals? Are they working toward them? eCoaching supports each person involved to help them meet their learning goals. This takes planning. You can do this alone with an eCoach in social networks if you build a network of people who want to help each other.

Are the people in your network the right people to be your eCoach? Are they there to help you or for other reasons?

Consider the
purpose of your learning community. There are so many different groups you can join: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, My eCoach, Moodle, Ning... Each of these communities means a different login which can turn off some newbies to the web. Each of these offers different purposes and may not offer the right environment for your purpose. You can also set up the right online environment for the right purpose but did not start it correctly. You need buy-in from all involved if you want it to work. If it's only for you, then you need to design your individual learning plan and stick to it so you meet your goals. Then set an ILP for each of your goals.

How do you do that?
  • Start with your vision and the entire organizationís vision. If youíre not sure how to do that, just envision you, your class, your school, your community in the future. Think 2 years, 5 years, or more from now.
  • Then review where you and your school are now compared to your vision.
  • Design your goals and steps to meet your goals.
  • The visioning process works best if you have a skilled facilitator provide this for your organization.
When each member of your organization determines their goals based on the goals and vision for the entire organization, then figure out your strengths, skills to meet your goals. This is where I see designing individual learning plans (ILPs) can help you define what type of eCoaching you might need.

Your ILP may include workshops, courses, mentoring, coaching, conferences, and even work on your own. eCoaching is online facilitation for whatever you need to help you meet your goals. One major factor for success is using the right people as eCoaches.

Another factor that matters is matching the eCoach with their coachees. They have to be compatible, agree on strategies for communication, and how and when they plan to reach their goals. When I mentioned in the beginning trainer, mentor, and coach, an eCoach can be strong as one or all three.
  • a Trainer is comfortable in a teacher-led environment in front of a group either as the expert or deliverer of information.
  • a Mentor is an expert in a subject or area and is more comfortable supporting one person or a small group.
  • a Coach is more of a facilitator supporting one or many people helping them meet their learning goals.
If you are a trainer and set up an online learning community, then you will probably create online courses for many people. If you are to also be a coach, then you will need to learn facilitation skills, how to individualize instruction, and work one-on-one. I can go on and on about the differences but this is where planning really matters.

Who are your eCoaches? Identify their strengths and determine if they are willing to stretch and go outside of their comfort zone. If they are a mentor, then they may be uncomfortable working with a group.

Do you have an online community? Is it working? What do you think are the problems if it is not working?


Categories: "Learning Communities" "Online" "Ecoaching" "Coaching" "Individual Learning Plans" "Online Facilitation" "Mentoring"



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Comments:
By small Sara Zimmerman      April 7, 2009 -- 10:51 AM
Your eCoaching visioning suggestions seem applicable to everyone. There are so many things to distract us that identifying our vision and an appropriate path is imperative towards realizing our goals. This is a great blog. Thanks for sharing and I hope that groups in need of such help will read this.

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