First Coaching workshop for staff

Today we ran the first in a series of two coaching workshops with university tutors. The aim was to give them enough insight into the coaching process to start to change the type of conversation they have with their students during personal tutorials. Traditionally a tutorial would revolve around the student expressing areas of concern or difficult and the tutor providing them with direction on how to move forward. What we want to encourage is the tutor to find out first what the student is really after, and how they, the student, can draw on their own resources to resolve the issue or problem.

The group of tutors at the workshop are all running course that require the students to make decisions about their learning or career paths. Nick Halafihi and his team are looking to use coaching within their PDP module which builds towards student placement. Student placements are very affective and can give students an edge when it comes to finding employment after university. However they can be equally disastrous if the student discovers they are stuck doing something they don’t enjoy or find uninteresting. By using coaching during the PDP modules students should be able to make this placement choice with much more confidence in both the skills they can employee and their personal interactions.

Sarah Patrick is in the process of redesigning a course within Health that has multiple module options to enable students to create very specific specialisations. Again the choice to the student is critical to their future employability as well as enjoyment with the course on the whole. From personal experiences I have known students to select options because their friends are doing the module or because they perceive it as an easy number of credits. Quite often this is not a solid foundation for developing a career path that is enjoyable or interesting.

Sue Smith and Ian Truelove also attended as they are interested in how coaching can be used to support students and the tutorial process. It was a successful event and everyone seamed to enjoy the activities. Looking forward to the feedback and see if that collates with my thoughts and feelings.

Update: validation, learning objects and roleplay

Just realised it is a couple of months since our last update – primarily a result of lots of activity leading to less reporting! So what have we been up to? We are essentially preparing for our first cohort – due to start at the beginning of March. Having decided to adopt a module-based approach to giving students access to personalised curriculum development we have had a lot to do: module validation (initially within an existing scheme called Leading Edge but we are now looking at a cross institutional validation), module design and content, as well as recruiting our first cohort and planning and designing our evaluation process. So a lot going on!

Our plan is to produce as much of our content as possible as reusable learning objects, making them available via our open educational resource repository. This is proving more tricky than we anticipated. We started using Glomaker as a production tool which is built around learning design patterns. We really like this model which embeds pedagogy into the design. However we found the components it currently offers too restrictive: without a lot of additional Flash development we were going to have difficulties doing what we wanted to do. So we moved over to CourseLab, which we are now trialling. However we quickly hit a snag with that too – unfortunately the scorm packages it produces do not display correctly within our VLE in any browser other than IE: not very open! So we are now initially preparing learning resources using our VLE’s learning modules, which will be converted to standalone objects for the repository where appropriate.

In the process of producing content, we have produced a series of role play videos to try to demonstrate the differences as we see them between tutoring, mentoring and coaching. These are in the process of being built into a learning object on the subject but are included here as many have asked for an explanation of this. Obviously these are somewhat stylised and caricatured to make the point but hopefully the differences, as we see them, will be clear! All three conversations tackle the same topic: giving presentations.

The Tutoring conversation: 

The Mentoring conversation: 

The Coaching conversation: 

Coaching training

Yesterday the core PC3 team completed the first two day session of their ILM Level 5 Certificate in Coaching course. We were in a group with members of the Carnegie Leaders in Learning partnership, most of whom have prior coaching experience, so those of us who have never done this before have the benefit not only of an excellent coach in Sarah Readings (who is leading the course) but in peer coaching from colleagues.

It was a pretty intensive two days but I found it fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable. It became very clear how different this is to tutoring or mentoring – and how difficult I am going to find it to step back from offering advice. Twenty years of tutoring creates habits that are hard to kick! Learning rather to listen and to ask the kind of questions that will prompt the coachee to explore the issue themselves rather than rely on guidance from us is not trivial but it is empowering to the coachee. The philosophy is that we all have the potential within ourselves to move forward from where we are – and we develop better when change comes from within us rather than from external sources.

How this will work in coaching learning remains to be seen. Clearly there is still a need for tutoring at a subject level – but how far can our students develop themselves as independent learners if we encourage them to take responsibility for their own learning in this way? I am looking forward to finding out!