January 2014- Themes

The widening spectrum of distance coaching tools.

wider varietyUntil recently, distance coaching was delivered mainly through telephone, Skype, email or as a web-based application for self-coaching. In addition to the basic communication between coach and client, there are various supporting tools, which  can be used to enhance the distance coaching process. The variety of distance coaching tools available appears to be increasing. Tools range from text-based programs, with sets of questions for the client to reflect upon, to simulations and virtual worlds, where coach and client can explore fictive settings or landscapes, while being represented through avatars.

Over 15 different supporting tools have been introduced in our e-coaching community,  from the US and Canada, the UK, Germany and the Netherlands. A list of the tools that have been introduced in the e-coaching community can be read in the post E-Coaching community- What have we learnt in a year? – Theme 3: E-coaching tools. Standing back, one may observe that these tools differ in nature and emphasize different elements. The following distinctions may be useful in understanding these differences:

A. Tools specifically designed for coaching vs. tools that are not purpose built.

A basic distinction can be made between tools that have been developed specifically for enhancing distance coaching, and tools that are not designed for coaching, but their potential to enhance the coaching process is now being discovered by practitioners and researchers alike. One example of a tool not designed for coaching is Second Life, which has attracted the attention of researchers and practitioners, perhaps due to its richness, feeling of proximity and countless location options. 

B. Tools emphasizing visual elements vs. tools emphasizing text-based elements.

A second distinction can be made based on the emphasis placed on either visual tools or text-based tools. Tools with an emphasis on visual elements may be 2-, or 3-dimensional virtual worlds, where the client, being represented through an avatar, explores a virtual world and interacts with landscapes, objects or people, thereby exploring the symbolic association between these and the real life issue. Alternatively, tools with a strong visual element may be simulative environments for clients to visualize their thoughts and simulate solutions to their coaching issues. Text-based tools consist of sets of questions, which the client reflects upon and answers in written. Text-based tools can be used between coaching sessions or as a basis for a session.

C. Standalone vs. platforms with aggregates of tools

A third distinction can be made on the basis of standalone tools, in contrast to virtual coaching platforms that involve aggregates of tools for supporting the distance coaching process. Platforms such as these accommodate tools, ranging from visual tracking of the client´s progress, giving the client assignments, journal entries by the client, to making appointments for a coaching session. These platforms are often characterized by the open structure of the questions or assignments that a coach can create and may thus, be contrasted to text-based software with pre-set coaching questions.

D. Tools for enabling situated vs. non-situated distance coaching

A final distinction between tools can be based on whether tools facilitate situated coaching processes or not. Examples of situated coaching are available through online and mobile bug-in-ear technology, which enables distance coaching in the client´s working context, while the client receives feedback during action in his/her work environment. More about this option in the article The Power of Virtual Coaching (2011), by Marcia L. Rock, Naomi P. Zigmond, Madeleine Gregg and Robert A. Gable. horizontal line

Empirical research on web-based coaching.


The researchers Anne Ribbers and Alexander Waringa, founders of eCoachPro and researchers at Tilburg University are conducting research, to examine the effect of behavioral web-based coaching on managerial coaching skills. A description of their research project can be read in the post E-coaching for Leadership development.

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TheCoachingApp by Tony Lartimerapp

Tony Lartimer, a  master executive coach and member of our e-coaching community has developed  TheCoachingApp, a free coaching app to support organizations in sustaining a coaching culture. The app can be used for individuals, or for inspiring a team and includes the following features, as presented on the website http://www.thecoachingapp.com/:

• 42 Profitable Leadership™ podcasts for personal learning
• Integrated leadership learning journal
• Coaching Journal for working with your coach
• Coaching Log to support you in coaching your staff

• 42 podcast episodes to use in selecting development areas with your clients
• Coaching Log to track clients activity
• Coaching Journal to support your development with your supervising coach

• 42 podcast episodes to use in selecting development areas with your clients
• Coaching Log to track clients activity
• Coaching Journal to support your development with your supervising coach

Tony has also posted two informative UTube videos to our group, to suggest ways of using the app.

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