ATD Blog

The Toolbox Just Got Bigger: Considering Mobile Coaching Platforms

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

talent management technology
I love to see how the talent development industry is evolving to bring us new ways to reach learners and extend or reach beyond the classroom by providing new learning innovations within learners’ workflows. One learning innovation that shows promise is the use of mobile coaching platforms. With numerous players in the field, let’s put these platforms in two categories: video coaching and SMS coaching.

Video Coaching Platforms

We train our people and hope to give them all they need to perform effectively. For example, how confident are you that new leaders at your organization could conduct a sensitive or difficult conversation about an employee’s performance competently and with confidence—the first time? Traditional learning can only get them so far. Platforms such as Practice, Mentor, and Rehearsal enable learners to capture, review, and learn from their peers in specific practice scenarios.

My colleagues Emily and David over at Practice talk about the importance of increased confidence in critical core skills areas. Video coaching platforms not only allow participants to see a good model to replicate, but also enable participants to communicate with each other. Practice incorporates an incredible social learning component as well, allowing peers to provide meaningful, structured feedback to one another. Incorporating social learning in this way is a force-multiplier that enables learners to respond to a prompt and submit their own video that shows how they would handle a situation in reflection or role-play. Then, they can see different approaches, provide feedback, and incorporate some of the pearls that they saw in peer submissions into their own approach.


Imagine the culture shift that comes when different audiences grow together and provide actionable feedback to one another. On the horizon, think about the impact a tool like this can have on executive coaching and remote teams. These tools offer an interesting alternate to the one-on-one, in-person traditional coaching scenario.

SMS Coaching Platforms


When I think of the “appification” of learning, a huge barrier to entry is what my friend Vince at Mobile Coach refers to as the “choose to engage barrier.” In short, even though it’s just a single download and a tap to open, people are reticent. On average, people use less than 10 percent of the total number of apps on their phones regularly. That is where SMS coaching comes in—no app required. Retention diminishes without reinforcement or other opportunities to build and extend on what they know. Imagine a way to reach these individuals—in the workflow—and provide additional learning opportunities, resources, and reinforcement of what was delivered.

In fact, I am using the Mobile Coach tool in this way on a number of programs I am developing as I write this blog post. Imagine the possibilities if you could keep an audience’s attention and create opportunities for interaction for one, three, six, or even 12 months post-training. The prospect is thrilling! Then consider the capabilities of our mobile devices. We can integrate meaningful responses, location attributes, the camera, and other device functionality to bolster their experience.

An important consideration for SMS-based coaching platforms is your company’s BYOD (bring your own device) policy. Typically, employees who have the most to gain from spaced learning are non-exempt employees who are not issued a corporate device. For this reason, providing a truly optional experience that is highly valuable from the first message and has a user-centric design is a must.

Bottom line: If you haven’t explored how mobile coaching platforms would be a game changer in your organization, it’s time you did. It’s like a secret door in our learning toolboxes was just unlocked!

About the Author

Ann Rollins, a modern learning champion and instructional design leader, is a learning strategist for GP Strategies. There she designs award-winning learning solutions, conducts enterprise learning needs assessments, leads learning strategy and innovation for Fortune 100 companies, and guides and crafts the upskilling efforts for L&D teams of global organizations. She creates ILT, VILT, eLearning, and blended solutions that incorporate curated mixed reality and social components.

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