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Academic Coaching is Encroaching!

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Headlined to H4 11/6/12

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You may not be familiar with Academic Coaching, a relatively-new trend in on-line education, and one which has some potential value.  The concept essentially involves the injection of an "academic coach" between faculty members and students -- a coach who mentors individual students, helps answer their questions, and facilitates their learning process.

Sounds good -- but I learned firsthand that the reality is often far from the promises made by slick purveyors of such coaching services.  After more than five decades in higher education, I thought it would be a meaningful experience to become an academic coach myself.  I applied with one of the most-aggressive firms in the field, which I will designate by the nickname ICKY (that is an elaboration of their initials) based in Texas.  My next step was an intensive on-line training program which also serves as ICKY's screening process for potential coaches.  So far, so good -- but wait!

Aside from blunders made by ICKY's key staff, including one top official repeatedly telling us trainees that our program ended on Monday -- when the actual ending date was Sunday, it was only after considerable training had occurred that we were told that our rather-minimal coaching compensation was exactly the same whether a course runs for five weeks, seven weeks, or the typical college's fifteen weeks.  That bit of startling news was followed by ICKY's allegation that the amount of effort required of coaches was essentially the same regardless of the length of the course!  Obviously, either that statement is totally untrue, or else coaches are encouraged to cut back on their weekly efforts in longer courses.  Either way, we should have been told of this adverse payment policy up-front, not after considerable training took place.

It was very difficult to get any replies to emails sent to ICKY's training team
regarding this issue, or a number of other issues I raised during their coach training.  And, although I completed that training with a score of over 99%, I was unable to get the promised certificate of completion.  Finally, after many email requests, I got a snotty reply that it could take up to eight weeks to get that promised certificate, for no good reason I could find.  At that point, it became eminently clear that ICKY holds all the cards, and the coach trainees mostly hold the bag, as the saying goes.  So, FAREWELL ICKY!  If any school, college, or university needs coaching, it would do much better to develop that capacity in house, rather than deal with firms like ICKY, which are, indeed, far too icky for me.

 

Author's Biography Eugene Elander has been a progressive social and political activist for decades. As an author, he won the Young Poets Award at 16 from the Dayton Poets Guild for his poem, The Vision. He was chosen Poet Laureate of Pownal, (more...)
 
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The last thing academic needs is some outside for-... by Eugene Elander on Tuesday, Nov 6, 2012 at 6:57:59 AM
don't yu think you should have asked about compens... by June Genis on Tuesday, Nov 6, 2012 at 11:47:17 AM