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Personal Learning Coaches

Experienced learning coaches help learners create an end goal, research learning options and coach through milestones and achievements.

Photo of Kate Hayward
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With the wide variety of inexpensive and free courses available on the internet, it's possible to create a learning path designed to achieve an end goal. But there are many more ways to learn than from traditional curriculum. There's mentoring and internships; job shadowing and deep dives into a new world; conversations and conferences, etc.

You need to know what you want to do with your education and what will indicate you are successful. Plans can be life long or start on a Monday and end on a Friday. They can be based on an immediate, known need or a curiosity.

And, as easy as it is to adopt a technical degree plan, it's not enough. Higher education is as much about learning how to think, how to live in this world and how to learn as it is technical skills.

Trained learning coaches (backgrounds in instruction, and/or coaching) will counsel learners to:

1. develop a desired end state

2. envision key objectives, including and extending beyond the simplest path

3. create flexible and extensible learning goals and set milestones

Once a personal plan is co-created, coaches will:

4. Guide and encourage learners on that path

5. Help learners assess and certify their learning through learning portfolios

6. Imagine sustainable, self-directed, life-long learning plans

One coach can handle approximately 15-20 learners in the counselling stage and 30-40 in the coaching stage. Counselling can be provided 1:1 using virtual communication or in face to face, in-person sessions, depending on the enabling environment.

The underlying objective in this is to co-create long term learning abilities.

Who is your idea designed for and how does it reimagine higher education to support the needs of tomorrow?

The audience is those who are unsure of their path, or unable to schedule, attend or pay for traditional options but want the thoughtful experience that comes from higher education.

This idea emerged from:

  • A group brainstorm

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

This is the germ of an idea. There are conditions that will make it to work, like how to certify to another that educational goals have been met, the details on how to train coaches, the creation of extensible, reusable processes, etc. This is something I do for myself but it's ad hoc. A seemingly random curiosity sparks my interests and I'm off, finding resources, digging in and learning about it. I haven't thought about how to put it into a repeatable format.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

I have a friend who is interested in systems thinking. i could ask her if she would allow me to work through a learning plan with her.

Tell us about your work experience:

I am currently working in international development but also have played design roles in 4 different start ups. I have a background in journalism, geology, technical writing and editing, instructional design and learning facilitation (oh, and a little bit of theater).


Join the conversation:

Photo of Terry Hosler

Hi Kate,
I want to be sure of your focus before adding some additional thoughts...
Do you see this as a type of 'advisor' for people take a variety of online as well as local learning opportunities but not through a single source such as a university?

Photo of Kate Hayward

Great question, Terry. Yes, I see this as learner led exploration across all sorts of learning opportunities, including potential deep dives into local opportunities, like Startup Weekends, business open houses, etc. Mostly, the coaches will help the learner explore and develop learning goals as well as learn how to perform their own research into learning opportunities. The coaches goal will be to help the learner develop their own self-directed learning techniques.

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