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Embrace the future...it’s going to happen anyway!

By Rachel Hooper, Coach Education Advisor

Along with my colleague Julie Mackintosh, I recently presented a case study at the UK Coaching Summit at St George’s Park. The subject matter was ‘Innovation in Coach Education- Identifying and using emerging technologies’ and over the two days, 72 delegates came to listen to how sports are currently using technology across all levels of their UKCC programmes to help enhance the learning experience.  

At the beginning of the session I asked, ‘in one word, what does technology in coach education mean to you’? The top five answers were:

  1. Accessible
  2. Variety
  3. Flexible
  4. Interesting
  5. Engaging

What struck me that all these words are what coach education should be anyway, whether technology is being used or not. We can’t rely on online learning to make our coach education courses accessible, interesting and engaging. They need to be all of these things no matter what medium is being used to deliver the learning experience.

So what makes coach education interesting and engaging? From experience, it’s not an ongoing stream of power point slides presented in identical style. It’s a mixture of having a great presenter along with engaging resources that are interactive for the learner. Some people will learn a lot more from a five minute video clip than a one hour presentation.

Formal education in schools is changing significantly, and the coaches of the future are going to expect a learning experience beyond the classroom. One video clip that was shown during the session has some very powerful messages.


Knowing that “Technology will experience 20,000 years of growth this century” is an astounding fact but alongside this we must be conscious that “21stcentury students will use a multitude of technologies to access content, demonstrate mastery, publish their work, maintain a portfolio of their skills and interact with the world”

Sports coach UK is fully supportive of the use of technology in coach education. As an organisation we are learning about the benefits and pitfalls of online learning. What we, and any other organisation developing online learning needs to be wary of is that while we candevelop online learning, do we actually needto?

There are some subject areas which lend themselves to becoming an online learning activity very well, while others can become overcomplicated and difficult to understand. Informed decisions need to be made to ensure that e-learning is enhancing the learning experience, and not simply attempting to replace it.

Ultimately coaching is about relationships, and you can’t have a relationship with a computer or smart phone. Research shows that coaches utilise technology primarily to network and learn from each other. This is something we need to keep in mind when developing online learning experiences for coaches. Because that is what they should be, an experience and not simply an hour reading from a computer screen.

As an organisation we are evolving and constantly experimenting to find the best methods of delivery for coach education. We know that the learners of the future expect cheap and easily accessible apps, online learning and online networks. As an industry we need to be fully aware of the needs of the learners of the future. Just as we would not expect an athlete to learn how to improve their technique just by using an app, we cannot expect coaches to improve themselves through the use on online technology alone.

Technology can help coaching relationships and networks to develop.  It can just as easily remove the personal touch and engagement from learners so our challenge as an industry is to enhance learning through the use of technology whilst maintaining the personal touch.

It’s not an easy challenge but the future is happening whether we like it or not!

You can find the full UK Coaching Summit presentation here http://sportscoachuk.org/sites/default/files/2A%20-Emerging%20Technology%20in%20Coach%20Education.pdf

If you would like any further information about use of technology in coach education please contact the e-learning technical lead, Rachel Hooper at [email protected]


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