I’m sometimes asked, why I chose for the International Centre for Coaching Supervision to be a wholly virtual school. And, of course, the clue is in the name. The simple answer to this question is that we love the way virtual learning transcends borders, cultures, timezones and localised practices by removing the cost barriers incurred by travel, accommodation and time away from home and work. It makes supervision training a truly global opportunity.
But the story also began because of the coronavirus pandemic of 2020.
With the need to take our coaching school, Animas Centre for Coaching, online to enable new and existing students to undertake their coach training, we recognised that the state of technology was allowing a phenomenal learning experience without the traditional limitations of geography that in-person training imposes.
Having run the Diploma in Coaching Supervision as an in-person course from 2016 until 2019 as part of Animas, we made the choice to establish the International Centre for Coaching Supervision (ICCS) as a fully virtual school and to embrace the advantages we soon started to see with our virtual coach training.
Students were writing glowing reviews of the virtual experience and were loving the fact that they didn’t have to make a long journey into London, Berlin or Edinburgh, where we had been training until then. Of course, some were missing the more spontaneous elements of in-person training: the chats over coffee, the bonding during the walk to and from the tube, and so on, but overall we were seeing that virtual training worked very well!
One of the things that impressed us most was the extent to which almost any aspect of in-person training could be replicated. This was a new world for us and we hadn’t realised the degree to which virtual training could create such rich learning experiences. Along with the traditional trainer-to-group presentation one might expect of virtual training, we quickly discovered the power of virtual platforms to manage break-out groups, triad practice sessions, demonstrations, whiteboard collaboration, presentations and more.
In many ways, we found that virtual training was in-person training on steroids!
The long-standing challenge of in-person training in terms of the position of learners in relation to the facilitator (people feeling unseen, distant or awkwardly in a corner of the space) – all this was absent from virtual training as each participant takes the same space and has the same prominence. We loved the egalitarian feel.
And time-management was a breeze! No participants loitering on the way back from coffee and no staggered restarts as break-out groups rejoined the whole. All this disappeared.
But, of course, most important was the issue I began this piece with. Virtual training completely removes the barriers of geographical location, travel-time and associated costs.
The reality is that high-quality coaching supervision courses are few and far between and almost all are localised providers or universities. We only knew of Goldvarg Consulting who were offering virtual supervision training and the limited spaces on offer meant many highly-experienced coaches would be missing out. And whilst some schools such as the Coaching Supervision Academy have launched international satellite locations, they still remain local delivery centres with all the classic demands of travel and time away.
The fact remained that if you wanted to train as a coaching supervisor, you were going to have to travel to one of the very few major delivery centres.
For us, that felt like a big shortfall for an important and sought after discipline within the coaching world. With organisations increasingly stipulating supervision as a condition for working with them as a coach, there is clearly an ever-greater need for coaching supervisors. At the same time, with the maturation of life coaching and the professionalisation of that sector, there is a growing need for a new generation of supervisors needed with the skills and understanding to work with coaches who work outside of organisational structures.
For all these reasons, when the ICCS was established as a new school, separate from Animas, in 2020, the decision to go virtual was an easy one to make and we’re excited to help coaching supervision become a more fully international activity and profession by opening up quality training to more coaches around the world.