Issues around virtual worlds for coaching and specialized training for delivering e-coaching were raised this month in the community “E-coaching: A dialogue between researchers and practitioners”.
1. Virtual worlds.
The time factor:
“The biggest issue with virtual worlds is the time it takes to learn how to use it and navigate”
Platforms requiring significant time to learn to use them can be a barrier for both, coach and client. How much time is actually needed to learn how to use virtual worlds for coaching? Experts´ suggestions of virtual worlds that are easy to learn and use included the ProReal platform and the Forio app for building simulations:
- forio.com is an app that “can be used to build mini-simulations easily“
- The platform ProReal is easy and quick to learn. According to users of ProReal: “Clients get used very quick to handle the software”
The realism factor in the interface design of virtual worlds:
“it doesn’t help to make too realistic a solution, as it tends to prevent identification with the world you build”
The issue of realism in the interface design of virtual worlds was raised. All participants of the discussion agreed that realism can be a disadvantage. Quoting participants: “many (virtual worlds) try to be too realistic, which actually reduces their effectiveness with the user focusing on what’s wrong with the realism rather than the learning intended”.
QuotingThe neutrality of avatars is considered for this reason as an advantage. As members stated:
- “I have the impression that clients like that the avatars are neutral” and “I found (realistic avatars) distracting..”
2. Specialized e-coach training programs.
Coaching practitioners who wish to deliver coaching at a distance may need specialized training. Specialized training can a) help coaches to familiarize themselves with using technology in their practice, b) introduces coaches to the different possibilities of available technological tools that can be used as part of the distance coaching process, c) supports coaches in improving skills that are particularly important for e-coaching, such as listening and using clear language. Currently available e-coach training programs include:
1. Life Strategies Ltd http://www.lifestrategies.ca is a coaching, counseling and training organization based in Vancouver. Among other courses, Life Strategies offers a one-week 10 hour online course in “e-Coaching” . The course aims to support practitioners to understand the challenges of working online with clients and to enhance their skills in using new technology to communicate effectively. Among the learning objectives of the course, as mentioned in the course outline http://lifestrategies.ca/docs/e-Coaching-Outline.pdf are the following:
- “Select appropriate online communication tools
Articulate ethical considerations in working online with clients
Work effectively with clients in a “virtual” environment
Access career-related resources online
Overcome challenges encountered in working exclusively online”
(contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
2. Training to use ProReal:
a) ProReal training in english language: ProReal http://www.proreal.co.uk/services/training-process/ offers 1-day training courses for experienced coaches, supervisors and therapists and 2-day courses for business users. The training can be face-to-face or remote. The training program includes the following modules, as mentioned on the ProReal website:
- “Key concepts and principles supporting the ProReal approach.Operation of the User Management System – configuring the platform to meet your specific needs.
- Operation of the User Interface – setting up ‘landscapes’ and understanding all the controls for avatar and props.
- Client engagement – how to coach a client in setting up their ‘world’ to illustrate their thoughts and experience, including all user controls.
- Applications and processes – techniques for working with clients using ProReal.
- Trials and tests – classroom or remote scenarios to increase confidence in working with the software.
- Tips for effective facilitation and client engagement, including the use of metaphor, symbols, inner voices, time-lines and sociodrama.
- Ethical considerations.“
b) ProReal training in german language: Klaus Doellinger http://www.klaus-doellinger.de. offers training for coaches to get certified as facilitators for the use of ProReal in Germany. The program is a 1-day face-to-face training, followed by remote supervision to provide further support to participants. (contact email: email@example.com)
3. eCoachPro www.ecoachpro.nl offers a 2- and 5-day training program in e-coaching. eCoachPro cooperates with the European Institute (www.europeesinstituut.nl) in the Netherlands and with De Baak Belgium (http://www.debaak.nl/landingpages/baak-belgium), and also runs programs in-company upon request. From the end of 2014, eCoachPro will also be offering training programs in english.
4. Virtual Coaching (VC) www.virtual-coaching.net offers e-coaching training in german language: Prof. Dr. Harald Geissler has several years of experience in offering training in e-coaching. This training program supports participants in learning to use the text-based internet tool Virtual Coaching (VC) http://www.virtual-coaching.net , which can be combined with ProReal and CAI. The program involves 3-4 months of training, delivered through telephone. Participants get certified after having delivered 4 coaching sessions as a coach. Training groups in english language are available upon request.