Can we use coaching conversations to unlock digital potential?

Emma Gillaspy & Liz Burns – University of Salford

Active workshop

Academia is facing a period of sustained and unprecedented change. A recent global study by Roland Persson from Jönköping University reported by Times Higher Education (2017) showed that stress in academia is on the rise due to increased workload and a lack of support.

Whitmore (2009) defines coaching as “unlocking people’s potential to maximize their own performance”. Coaching has been shown to positively impact psychological factors such as reducing stress and improving wellbeing and resilience (Grover & Furnham, 2016). Common outcomes from coaching include increased self-efficacy, performance and satisfaction (Jarvis, 2008). Coaching is becoming more widely used across the Higher Education (HE) sector. This includes coaching support for senior management and increasing provision for researchers (Medd, 2012). However there is very little research into the efficacy of coaching for the development of digital confidence and competence, particularly in relation to academics’ social media use.

We propose that coaching may be a positive developmental intervention that can improve confidence and reduce anxiety in using digital and social media in learning and teaching practices. In this workshop, we will share our experiences of formal and informal coaching from both the coach and coachee perspective.

During this experiential workshop, delegates will:

  • investigate the benefits and challenges of adopting a coaching approach to develop social media confidence and competence
  • try out a range of coaching tools and techniques that can encourage exploration of social media
  • debate the feasibility of adopting a coaching approach in their environment for supporting the development of social media skills


Whitmore, J. (2009) Coaching for Performance: GROWing Human Potential and Purpose. London; Boston, Nicholas Brealey Publishing.


Coaching / Academic development / Confidence and competence

Relation to the theme

  • engaging, stimulating and challenging learners
  • innovative ways of meeting learning outcomes and enabling learning gain
  • building staff and student digital capability and confidence
  • scaling up excellence for broader impact