iCoachKids: Innovative Education & Training for a Specialist Children & Youth Coaching Workforce.

Digital Learning Opportunities for Coaches

Hi everyone, my name is Mairi McLaughlin and I am a Partnership Manager at sportscotland.

The aim of this blog is to provide a short update around the work we are doing in sportscotland on digital learning opportunities for coaches, covering:

  • The sportscotland app
  • E-learning opportunities
  • Our blended learning approach to coach CPD

So what are we doing and why? We have taken into account the research and feedback from both the coach panel survey and our own coaches and we therefore know that although face to face is still rated as the preferred form of delivery for many coaches, in general coaches have less time to commit and therefore want accessible CPD in a location, format and time that suits them. We also know that coaches have a range of different learning styles and therefore there is not a one size fits all when it comes to designing CPD opportunities. Digital learning is a way of breaking down these barriers and making learning more accessible

We have therefore developed a system where we have a range of different touch points and learning opportunities available on each of our CPD topics to suit all learning styles and accessibility needs.

We currently provide and deliver live workshops, e-learnings, short information videos, podcasts and various other online resources such as PDFs, blogs and links on our subject areas. Coaches can access some or all of these depending on their learning needs and time commitments.

We have also introduced some digital communities of practice to allow for cross sport learning and conversation out with a live workshop setting.

Image result for sportscotland digital learning app

The sportscotland app

The sportscotland app was initially launched in 2015 as a go to place for coaches for CPD and learning opportunities. Since its initial launch it has changed and developed significantly to keep up with the changing digital landscape and needs of coaches and we are delighted with its current use and functionality. The app provides a platform to have all of our digital content in one, easily accessible place for coaches.

This Free app is available on IOS and Android for your smart phone or tablet, and all the content within it is free to coaches to access. It can be found by searching for ‘sportscotland’ in the app store or play store. You are all welcome to download it and have a look through the content.

As you will see there is a wide range of materials available for coaches of all levels and all environments and in a range of formats- we have Videos, Podcasts, PDF’s, e-learnings, links and materials have been produced both by sportscotland and a range of partners, this content is being regularly updated and added to. You will see the I Coach Kids section on it which we are delighted to be able to link to.

E-learning opportunities

As we look to make learning and CPD more accessible to coaches, we have recently produced a series of e-learnings which are available via the app. The initial e-learnings are targeting club level coaches and were launched in September 2018.

The initial topics we have produced are:

-  Physical Literacy 

- Growth and Maturation –

- Understanding Talent

- Coordination and Control-

There are several more in the pipeline for development over the coming months on a range of topics.

Image result for sportscotland digital learning app

Blended learning approach

sportscotland recognise that Face to Face learning is still the preferred learning method for many coaches and that is why we continue to offer face to face workshops in addition to the digital content that is available. However we always signpost to the digital resources to supplement the learning.

We have 3 hour face to face workshops available for each of these topics mentioned (physical literacy, growth and maturation, understanding talent and coordination and control) and we have also come up with a blended learning approach to supplement the e-learning as an option for coaches who do not have the time to attend 4 live workshops, one on each of the themes.

This option allows coaches who have completed all 4 of the e-learning modules to attend a one off full day Practical Application workshop. This highly practical workshop will explore how coaches can transfer the theory they have learned from the e-learning in to their coaching practice in their sport and will also give them the opportunity for the cross sport learning that is so valuable as the workshop will be attended by coaches from a range of sports.

The last thing I want to touch on here is our Digital communities of practice. These were developed as a space for coaches to come together and interact and engage and share ideas out with a classroom setting.

From a project management point of view this allows us to demonstrate that the learning opportunities are actually having an impact on coaching practice, as we ask in them for examples of how, what and when the learning has been implemented. They also again give the opportunity for cross sport learning and engagement that the research shows coaches value.

We decided to use facebook for this as it was a free and east way that most coaches would already be familiar with. We set up a profile then a series of closed groups for each of the discussion areas.

There has also been a good sense of community developed as coaches regularly post in groups and other coaches respond directly, giving instant cross sport communication  and learning and support which is invaluable.

I hope this has been useful in summarising digital learning opportunities within sportscotland. This is an ever expanding area for us and a really exciting area as well.

If there are any questions or comments please contact me on mairi.mclaughlin@sportscotland.org.uk

Thank you


Mairi McLaughlin is a Parntership Manager with sportscotland, working in the Coaching and Volunteering Team in a role focussing on Coach Development and digital learning opportunities for coaches. She has 18 years experience working in Sports Development, from roles within both Local Authorities and the National Agency. She also has 18 years coaching experience, working with both adults and children.