What does coaching through modern media really mean?
by Prof. Dr. Harald Geissler
Coaching through modern media implies coaching through electronic communication. Taking a closer look at this, the present article explores the meaning of the word „media“ in the field of coaching. In doing so, this article attempts to distinguish between modern and traditional media.
The following dichotomies manifest in media used in coaching:
Inner dialogue with oneself versus dialogue with a coach.
The most basic medium used in coaching is dialogue. Based on this, the two alternatives are inner dialogue or dialogue with a coach.
Social versus technological interaction.
We can interact with each other or with technological media.
Biofeedback versus technology-supported cognitive feedback.
Technological instruments may provide biofeedback or feedback based on written material, such as on written coaching questions.
Shadow-/on-site versus off-site coaching.
In on-site coaching, the coach observes the client, e.g. in their actual work environment and has the opportunity to see the challenges which the client is facing. In off-site coaching, these challenges need to be reconstructed, i.e. they either need to be communicated or recalled. In the latter option, the coach however, has no chance of verifying the truthfulness of the situation that the client presents.
Face-to-face coaching versus remote coaching.
During face-to-face coaching, coach and client are together in the same room, while in remot
Traditional media versus modern media in the context of communication contents.e coaching, they are in different places and they may communicate at the same time or at different times (e.g. via telephone,skype, email, etc.).
The question of how might the contents of communication in coaching be expressed, is independent of, which medium is chosen to express these contents. The traditional media which are used to express the contents of communication are the spoken and hand-written word, as well as printed documents, physical objects and symbolic actions. The spoken word however, can be used in both, face-to-face and in telephone or video coaching. In contrast to traditional media, modern media which can be used to express the contents of communication might include, electronic texts, graphs, images, films, but also virtual reality. These modern media can be used not only in remote coaching, but they can also be used to enrich face-to-face coaching.
Body language versus no body language.
From this perspective the body, including the voice, facial expressions, and posture, is our primary communication medium. Since inventing writing however, we have the possibility to communicate without using our body. This innovation is now carried on, through the use of virtual reality, e.g. second life.
Synchronous versus asynchronous communication.
The oral and visual communication exchanges may occur at the same time (synchronous) or at different times (asynchronous).
Basic media versus optional enrichment of communication contents through additional media.
The basic medium of expression in coaching is language, or more specifically dialogue. There is however, the option to enrich dialogue with additional media, such as, texts, images, films,video games, etc. These can be categorized based on three dichotomies, which are presented below.
Enrichment of basic communication media through static versus dynamic materials.
Static materials might include texts, images, photographs etc. Dynamic materials on the other hand, might include films,video games etc
Enrichment of basic communication media through interactive versus non-interactive materials.
Non-interactive materials in the form of texts, graphs, images, etc. are set, whereas interactive texts are flexible and can be shaped during the coaching process. For instance, during the coaching process texts can be edited, images can be created and virtual realities can be formed.
Enrichment of basic communication media through pre-structured versus open-ended materials.
Open-ended materials which might enrich basic communication include physical or electronic flip charts, metaplan cards etc., whereas, pre-structured materials might be for instance, pre-set coaching questions to be answered by the client.
The above mentioned 10 dichotomies of media used in coaching, correspond to the following virtual coaching formats:
I) On-site coaching
Format 1: On-site coaching, whereby the coach observes the client in a real situation, for instance, in his/her working environment. This option exists in virtual coaching, using electronic media, and thereby providing the coach the possibility to see and hear the client as well as, to ask questions or offer feedback.
Format 2: Self-coaching with non-interactive electronic materials (e.g. texts, images, films providing solutions to specific problems)
Format 3: Self-coaching with interactive electronic materials (e.g. coaching questions), with no technology-based feedback.
Format 4: Self-coaching with interactive electronic materials (e.g. coaching questions), with technology-based feedback.
Format 5: Self-coaching with the support of biofeedback.
III) Off-site face-to-face coaching, enriched with additional electronic materials.
Format 6: Off-site face-to-face coaching, enriched with non-interactive electronic materials (e.g. a video demonstrating specific activities for the client to execute)
Format 7: Off-site face-to-face coaching, enriched with interactive electronic materials (e.g. a video game).
IV) Off-site coaching without additional media for content presentation.
Format 8: Telephone or video coaching without additional materials.
Format 9: Asynchronous text-based coaching without additional materials (e.g.www.moodeln.de)
Format 10: Synchronous text-based coaching without additional materials.
V) Off-site coaching, enriched with non-interactive materials.
Format 11: Telephone and video coaching, enriched with non-interactive materials (text-based or visual)
Format 12: Asynchronous text-chat coaching, enriched with non-interactive materials (text-based and/or visual) The coach may send clients various materials such as, documents, graphs, audio and video documents (e.g. by using the tool „Jigsaw Box“ (www.jigsawbox.com). These materials can be used as a basis of activities or learning tasks, or as a basis for a subsequent asynchronous text-based coaching process.
Format 13: Synchronous text-based coaching, enriched with non-interactive materials (text-based and /or visual).
VI) Off-site coaching, enriched with open-ended interactive texts
Format 14: Telephone and video coaching with open-ended interactive texts.
Format 15: Asynchronous text-based coaching with open-ended interactive texts.
Format 16: Synchronous text-based coaching with open-ended interactive texts.
VII) Off-site coaching with open-ended interactive visual materials
Format 17: Telephone or video coaching with interactive visual materials, e.g. LPScocoon (www.world-wide-coach.com)
Format 18: Asynchronous text-based coaching with interactive visual materials
Format 19: Synchronous text-based coaching with interactive visual materials
VIII) Off-Site Coaching with pre-structured interactive text-based materials.
Format 20: Telephone or video coaching with pre-structured interactive text-based materials, e.g. the “Virtual Coaching” tool (www.virtuelles-coaching.com). The coaching process is structured through a pre-determined web-based questionnaire, which the coach answers in written with the support of an internet program.
Format 21: Asynchronous text-based coaching with pre-structured interactive text-based materials
Format 22: Synchronous text-based coaching with pre-structured interactive text-based materials (e.g. the coachmaster software) that provide the coach with a wide range of pre-structured coaching questions (http://thecoachmasternetwork.com/software/)
These formats can be combined in various ways and they can be used as blended coaching programs or they can be used in combination with face-to-face coaching. An example might be the tool „Theratalk“ (www.theratalk.de), targeting couples with relationship issues. This tool is used in three ways: a) Information and questionnaires, which can be used for self-coaching (see format 4), b) Asynchronous text-based communication with pre-structured coaching questions (see format 21), c) Synchronous text-chat to work on current questions (see format 10).