“Towards e-coaching” is a project that aims at combining coaching pedagogy with online learning in a way that works – something that is probably easier said than done. Τhere are four partners on board: TAMK (Finland), University of Leipzig (Germany), Bialystok University of Technology (Poland), and Technical University of Crete (Greece). The project is funded by the EU and includes mobilities between the partner universities. The partners from Leipzig, Bialystok and Crete have visited TAMK twice, in autumn 2021 and in spring 2022.
Learning about and designing e-coaching
Structurewise, the project has three outputs. Output 1 is a designated e-coaching methodology, which is built on extensive research around topics such as team coaching, learning design, online collaboration, trust building, etc. Firstly, the methodology has a theoretical part that aims at changing one’s pedagogical mindset. Secondly, it includes a more practical part showcasing actual methods for implementing e-coaching. Output 2 contains a training course for lecturers willing to start implementing e-coaching pedagogy in their own courses and a similar training course for students who are interested in participating in e-coaching courses. Output 3 consists of pilot course implementations designed by the lecturers who have completed the e-coaching training course.
The methodology of e-coaching is designed as platform agnostic, so that it does not depend on a specific learning platform or communication tools. On the contrary, it allows educators to make use of what is available in each institution. TAMK, University of Leipzig and Bialystok University of Technology use a Moodle-based learning platform in conjunction with other tools provided by each institution, while the Technical University of Crete uses their internally developed Coursevo platform. While visiting TUC, one of the main topics was to get a better view of how the Coursevo platform can support e-coaching methodology in comparison with the more common Moodle platform.
Cooperation under the Mediterranean sun
At the beginning of June 2022, Technical University of Crete hosted a training week in Chania, where the project partners got together to work on topical issues under the Mediterranean sun.
The programme of the week was fairly intensive. The focus was mainly on exploring Coursevo, which is also used for the training courses in output 2. In addition, there was also time for working on the design of the training course for students as well as examining the feedback received about the lecturers’ training course.
The team was also able to enjoy networking and socializing over a hearty Cretan dinner. An informal evening with project partners was an excellent setting for intercultural exchange and exchanging ideas and experiences.
The team worked well together, and the goals of the week were all achieved. The overall feeling after the intensive week of collaboration was very positive. Evidently, all partner universities are making significant progress towards the objectives of the project.
It is extremely important to develop this kind of approach in a cross-cultural team to ensure that different perspectives, ways of working, and understanding of pedagogy are taken into account.
The next step in the project is implementing the pilot e-coaching courses developed in the earlier phase. It will provide very interesting and tangible opportunities to see the new methodology in action.
Text and photos: Henri Annala, Timo Nevalainen, Hanna Teräs