My name is Keith Lyons. I am a Professor of Sport Studies at the University of Canberra.

I think of myself as an educational technologist.

Clyde Street

#UCSIA15 Start of Crowd Sourcing Content



I have been using a basic MindMeister account with Chrome to map a framework for the #UCSIA15 open course, Sport Informatics and Analytics.

This is the direct public link to the map.

I thought it would be one way to start the process of crowd sourcing micro-learning content for the course.

This is the map with four themes for the content and for structured exposure.

My hope is that the themes are sufficiently generic to make it possible to have an inclusive approach to content.

Mapping a Success Genome: AFL 2014




Last year, I discussed a genomics inspired approach to monitoring and visualising performance in the AFL 2013 season.

This is a follow up post for the 2014 AFL season. It is a companion post to my Momentum post earlier today.

Inspired by Genome mapping, I allocate colours to performance.

I base my colour coding on a team’s ranking in the previous season.

  • Green – a win by a higher ranked team over a lower ranked team
  • Blue – a loss by a lower ranked team to a higher ranked team
  • Gold – a win by a lower ranked team against a higher ranked team
  • Red – a defeat of a higher ranked team by a lower ranked team

Green and blue are ‘business as usual’ indicators, gold and red are important alerts. Sydney, for example, balanced three early defeats by lower ranked teams with three wins against higher ranked opponents.

The Top 8 Teams

Top 8 AFL 2014 Genome

The columns from left to right are: Sydney, hawthorn, Geelong, Fremantle, Port Adelaide, North Melbourne, Essendon and Richmond. Column 2 (Hawthorn) has no gold indicators as Hawthorn were ranked 1 after 2013 season.

Teams 9-18

Bottom 10 AFL 2014 Genome

The lower ranked the team in 2013, the more likely their column comprises mainly blue. The columns are from left to right: West Coast, Collingwood, Adelaide, Gold Coast, Carlton, Western Bulldogs, Brisbane, GWS, Melbourne, St. Kilda. Column 2 (Collingwood) indicates seven defeats to lower ranked teams after their bye week.


I see performance as a colour. I have been looking at ranking as a way to understand and discuss coaching.

I think each of the 18 columns can be a powerful trigger for a re-view of performance. The columns are a macro indicator and the opportunity to explore the granular detail of a Football Department’s season.

Photo Credit

Genome Image (Australian Geographic)

The Art of Making and Missing the 2014 AFL Finals


The 2014 regular AFL season concluded with Round 23 last weekend.

I have abstracted teams’ pathways to and from the 2014 Finals.

This is a momentum image for all 18 teams based on their 2013 rankings and their 2014 finishing position:

Routes 01

The 8 Finalists

Top 8 2014

This shows clearly Richmond’s transformed season starting at week 15.

The 10 teams not making the Finals

Bottom 10

I used a very simple rule to construct the images: 1 point for a win, -1 for a loss. The one draw was scored as 0.

The 2014 season

My record for each team’s twenty-two games is:

Table 01 AFL 2014

Top 14: After Three Rounds of the 2014-2015 season



The French Top 14 rugby union competition is underway.

Week 3 showed the competition at its perverse best. The four lowest ranked teams from 2013-2014 season all won at home against higher ranked teams. Five of the seven games in Week 3 were won by the lower ranked teams.

Top 14 3

In this table: green indicates a win for a higher ranked team; blue – a loss for a lower ranked team); gold – a win for a lower ranked team; red- a defeat against a lower ranked team.

Photo Credit

Stade Français Paris – Racing Metro 92 (CpaKmoi, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


Jo Gibson: Leadership Followership


IMG_1260I am delighted that my role at the University of Canberra makes it possible for me to supervise research students.

One of the students I am working with is Jo Gibson.

Jo presented her PhD Confirmation Seminar today. The title was intriguing:

Leadership followership: A storied process study of entanglement and nursing practice.

These are the slides Jo used to frame her seminar and stimulate questions 140827 Jo Gibson CS.

Jo’s research aims to challenge what we know about how leadership and followership occurs in nursing practice. It will draw upon a range of qualitative theoretical and methodological insights to investigate the dynamic relationship between leadership and followership.

Jo shared some of her extensive reading of the literature in the seminar.

Five research questions will focus her investigations into leadership followership:

  1. How is followership and leadership really known in the ‘messiness’ of nursing practice?
  2. How are agency, impact, care, responsibility and connection, all key aspects of fundamental nursing care, understood in relation to following and followership, leading and leadership in nursing?
  3. How is an ethic of care known in leadership followership in the healthcare context?
  4. How do we come to know each other when our own being is uncertain and developmental?
  5. How do followers facilitate different viewpoints that may be different from an organisational view that originates in the values and perspectives of those in formal leader or manager roles?

This will be a qualitative study that explores the rich affordances of story telling in sharing the lives of the leaders and followers in Jo’s research. She will be writing an autoethnography of her experiences as a researcher.

Jo’s research will raise some profound second order issues around ontology and epistemology.

I am looking forward to exploring leadership and followership as “a complexity of relationships and intertwined processes involving identities that are non-binary but rather, ambiguous and dynamic” that will take me outside of the comfort of discussions about charismatic and transformational leaders championed in the literature.

I will be joined in this endeavour by Jo’s other supervisor, Catherine Hungerford.


Social Presence



I am continuing to develop an open course in Sport Informatics and Analytics.

I am thinking more and more about the possibilities of engagement with and within this course.

This week some links shared by Stephen Downes and one from DERN have sent me off to contemplate social presence in open courses.

Perhaps I am inclined to do this because of my comfort with the nurturing and social reform models of teaching discussed by Tony Bates this week. Tony suggests:

Of all the models of teaching these two are the most learner centred. They are based on an overwhelmingly optimistic view of human nature, that people will seek out and learn what they need, and will find the necessary support from caring, dedicated educators and from others with similar interests and concerns, and that individuals have the capacity and ability to identify and follow through with their own educational needs.

I have been thinking about modular and non-linear opportunities to support motivated, self-organised learning. I am trying to balance the disposition to learn with the design of content.

Edynco’s learning maps started me off thinking about the form the content might take.

MIT has been grappling with the content issue too.

The final report of the Institute-wide task force on the future of MIT Education envisions “a future that includes a wide array of options where traditional plans may be offered alongside new paths, and where online tools enable modular and flexible learning opportunities that enrich the overall MIT educational experience”.  The report addresses modularsation in Recommendation 7.

The way in which students are accessing material points to the need for the modularization of online classes whenever possible. The very notion of a “class” may be outdated. This in many ways mirrors the preferences of students on campus. The unbundling of classes also reflects a larger trend in society—a number of other media offerings have become available in modules, whether it is a song from an album, an article in a newspaper, or a chapter from a textbook. Modularity also enables “just-in-time” delivery of instruction, further enabling project-based learning on campus and for students worldwide.

Last week, I wrote about conversation, conviviality and focused attention in synchronous learning environments.


This week Karen Kear, Frances Chetwynd and Helen Jefferis’  (2014) have encouraged me to think about how we connect in these environments and share personal information. They observe:

we should think of social presence as ‘a dynamic sense of others and relationships with them in mediated environments’ (Kehrwald 2010. p. 45), rather than something that can be easily conveyed via a static personal profile.

In his paper, Ben Kehrwald (2010) shares a continuum of social presence


In a separate presentation, Ben suggests the following to support students on this continuum:

(a) provide models of good practice in online communication, including the cultivation of social presence

(b) motivate learners to establish and cultivate a positive social presence

(c) create explicit opportunities for the establishment of online social presence

(d) generate interpersonal interaction that supports ongoing demonstrations of presence and the development of relations between individuals; and

(e) structure relatively low-risk experiences from which learners can learn to both convey an ongoing social presence and read the presence of others.

I like point (e) in particular.


My course will have a number of community drivers. This week’s links from Stephen and DERN have helped me think more about how these drivers might operate to develop a sensitive, inclusive approach to anyone keen to explore informatics and analytics.

Photo Credits

London Marathon #51 (Michael Garnett, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The Conversation (Maria Rosario Sannino, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Help is on the way (Cory Doctorow, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Conversation and Conviviality in Informatics and Analytics



I am writing a course at the moment.

It has two forms. One is as an open online course in Sport Informatics and Analytics. The second is as a component of a new Master of High Performance degree at the University of Canberra.

I have been thinking a lot about engagement in both forms of the course. I keep returning to a conversation between Howard Rheingold and Alan Levine to help me clarify the significance of students meeting in a physical space in synchronous time as structured exposure to ideas and practices as well as in asynchronous time and virtual space.

Whilst pondering these issues, I have been following Tony Bates’ discussions of Teaching in a Digital Age. A recent post notes “the need for frequent interaction between students, and between teacher and students, for the kinds of learning needed in a digital age”. Tony suggests that this interaction “usually takes the form of semi-structured discussion”.

Tony spends some time looking at how connectivist Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) facilitate discussion. He observes that these MOOCs do have some form of “loose central structure” that uses transmissive communication. He proposes that subject experts need to support learners to develop “deep, conceptual learning”. These experts:

clarify misunderstandings or misconceptions, to provide accurate feedback, to ensure that the criteria for academic learning, such as use of evidence, clarity of argument, etc., are being met, and to ensure the necessary input and guidance to seek deeper understanding.

He concludes his discussion with the role seminars play in this learning and understanding.

One of my hopes for the course I am writing is that it can be scalable from macro-sharing to micro-learning opportunities. I trust that the approach to the course is sufficiently invitational to support self-organised learning and conversation. One of my roles will be to facilitate these conversations.


Rebecca Croxton (2014) emphasises this facilitation role. Her research notes the importance of student-teacher interaction in the persistence of on-line learning. She points to:

  • active, socially engaged learning
  • the centrality of student-teacher communication
  • purposeful, meaningful interaction

as critical to student persistence.

These arguments have taken me back to Ivan Illich and conviviality in order to explore the relationships between “persons, tools and a new collectivity”. Conviviality is “individual freedom realized in personal interdependence”. Social arrangements in a convivial society “guarantee for each member the most ample and free access to the tools of the community” and limit this freedom “only in favour of another member’s equal freedom”.

I have taken from his argument that an equitable society promotes learning, sociality and community and uses communication tools to do this. Richard Kahn notes that these tools:

work to produce a more democratic and sustainable society that is “simple in means and rich in ends” and in which individuals can freely communicate, debate, and participate throughout all manner of a cultural and political life that respects the unique “balance among stability, change and tradition.”

Matt Bower and his colleagues have reported on how blended synchronous learning can contribute to this educational vision. Their report identifies the effectiveness of linking remote and face-to-face students in live classes.

Their conclusion returned me to another aspect of Howard Rheingold and Alan Levine’s conversation. Howard suggested that Alan is a pedagogical technologist. Matt and his colleagues draw attention to the centrality of pedagogy in blended learning:

it is important to not attribute the success of the learning experience to the technology itself. As was apparent in all of the case studies, the teacher and the quality of their pedagogical practices was the main determinant of the student experience. To that extent, teacher practice, development and support should be the primary focus of any blended synchronous learning initiatives. (2014, p.178)

I am hopeful that both forms of the course I am writing will be framed by good pedagogical practice, nourished by conversation and conviviality. There is an increasing number of guides as to how this is becoming more possible and how a community driver might use an approach that is “simple in means and rich in ends”.


Photo Credits

Shanghai Basketball Statue (Keith Lyons, CC BY 4.0)

Adults on Kid Sized Stools (Michael Coghlan, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Screen Grab (Tom Purcell, CC BY-NC 2.0)


The day after I posted this, The Conversation discussed ‘What makes a good teacher?’ One of the panel responding to the question led me to Parker Plamer’s The Heart of a Teacher.





I am very interested in the ways writers use the Medium platform.

Today, I received an alert that extended my interest.

It was a link to a post by Gilad Lotan.

Gilad discusses social networks and “the art of personalizing propaganda” during the Gaza conflict.

He notes:

Not only is there much more media produced, but it is coming at us at a faster pace, from many more sources. As we construct our online profiles based on what we already know, what we’re interested in, and what we’re recommended, social networks are perfectly designed to reinforce our existing beliefs. Personalized spaces, optimized for engagement, prioritize content that is likely to generate more traffic; the more we click, share, like, the higher engagement tracked on the service. Content that makes us uncomfortable, is filtered out.

I found Gilad’s use of visualisations to be very engaging. I went away thinking about this point:

A healthy democracy is contingent on having a healthy media ecosystem. As builders of these online networked spaces, how do we make sure we optimizing not only for traffic and engagement, but also an informed public?

Photo Credit

Twitter and UNWRA school bombing (Gilad Lotan)



AS0000154F06 Primary school children, sports day

A friend shared with me a poem, Life Cycle, by Bruce Dawe.

We had been discussing growing up around and in sport. Bruce’s poem is about Australian Rules football in Victoria.

Two verses struck me in particular:

They will not grow old as those from the more northern states grow old,
for them it will always be three-quarter time
with the scores level and the wind advantage in the final term,

That passion persisting, like a race-memory, through the welter of seasons,
enabling old-timers by boundary fences to dream of resurgent lions
and centaur-figures from the past to replenish continually the present

I read this  just before two coaching friends shared with me a link to a New York Times’ article, All Played Out, written by Ron Turker.

In the article, Ron discusses injuries to young sportspeople. He notes:

The landscape of youth sports has changed markedly in the last 20 years. Free play, where children gather after school, pick a game and play until called in for dinner, is almost extinct. Highly organized and stratified sports have become the norm. Time, place and rules are now dictated to our kids rather than organized by the kids.

Ron is a paediatric orthopedic surgeon. He reports that:

More juvenile athletes are coming in with repetitive stress injuries (both physical and, in a sense, emotional) that were once rare. Now children show up in my office repeatedly with vague aches and pains, usually in different locations and hard to diagnose but often relieved with a few weeks of rest. By the third visit, I catch on and ask whether they truly enjoy their full-time commitment. If given the emotional space, the kids will often reply no. They just want a break.

He discusses parental pressure on young players and the myth of sport scholarships. Towards the end of a wonderfully clear article he observes:

We buy the hype about scholarships to college, but the numbers don’t support the athletic route to money. Despite what your “professional coach” tells you about your child’s athletic prowess, it isn’t possible to tell if your 12-year-old has the right stuff to be a college athlete. Very few scholarships are full-ride packages; most don’t come close to covering the cost of college. But when I tell parents that their kid’s chance of scholarship money is less than 2 percent, they shake their heads in sympathy for the other 98 percent.

I am at a loss as to how we have traded playfulness for early specialisation. Perhaps it is because I am from a world that was described by Bruce Dawe and remembered from a different cultural perspective by Ron.

Photo Credit

Primary school children (Duncan Hall, CC BY 2.0)


Glasgow Wrap



The XXth Commonwealth Games have concluded in Glasgow after eleven days of competition.

Thirty-five countries shared 1385 medals in 261 medal events. David Katoatau was one of the gold medal winners. He secured Kiribati’s first Commonwealth Games medal as the winner of the 105kg weightlifting competition.

Australia started and ended the Games with gold medals. Anna Meares won the Women’s 500m Time Trial in the first medal event in track cycling. David Palmer and Cameron Pilley won one of the last gold medals in the Men’s Double Squash.

England was the top placed team at the Games. It is the first time Australia has not been number one in gold medals won and total medals won since 1986 (in Edinburgh). The Australian team did win 137 medals (49 gold) in Glasgow compared to England’s 174 (58 gold) (). England had a very strong second week at the Games and overtook Australia with eighteen gold medal performances in gymnastics, diving and boxing.

Australia dominated in week one of the Games with outstanding performances in cycling and swimming. Emma McKeon won six medals in swimming (four gold and two bronze). She was a member of the Women’s 4x100m freestyle relay team that broke the world record on the first night of competition in the pool. This world record swim is a remarkable achievement. It broke a 2009 record set by swimmers wearing polyurethane suits.

Australia’s success in cycling and swimming extended to the Para sport events included in the Games. Two of the Para swimmers, Rowan Crothers and Maddi Elliott, set world records in winning their events. Maddi was Australia’s youngest swimmer at the London Paralympics in 2012.

Australia’s Athletics program at the Games started with a remarkable win for Mike Shelley in the Men’s Marathon and a very strong third place finish by Jess Trengrove in the Women’s Marathon. Thereafter seven female athletes won gold medals in track and field. In addition to the very public success of Sally Pearson and the drama surrounding her victory, Alana Boyd, Dani Samuels, Kim Mickle, Eleanor Patterson, Angie Ballard and Jodi Elkington became Commonwealth champions. Angie and Jodie won their medals in the Para classes.


Eleanor Patterson won the high jump in Glasgow. She is in her final year at school and is from the Gippsland town of Leongatha. Like many of the athletes in the Australian team, Eleanor has made long journeys to training with her family. The romance of the Games is that these journeys lead to remarkable places and performances. Another athlete from a rural community, Laura Geitz, captained the Australian netball team to the gold medal in netball.

The Glasgow Commonwealth Games set new standards of competition. A number of sports stepped up their performance to meet the challenge. Australian shooters secured six gold medals in Glasgow. Divers and gymnasts found the competition very strong and will aspire to do better in Brisbane in 2018.

The Games ended with three gold medals in team sports. The Australian women’s hockey captain, Madonna Blyth, scored the decisive shoot out goal to defeat England. Her fortitude under pressure would have been highly regarded in shoot outs in other sports. The men’s hockey team won convincingly against India. They have won every hockey gold medal since the sport entered the Games in 1998. The women’s netball team won their final against New Zealand to regain the gold medal after twelve years.

The last time the Games were held in Scotland in Edinburgh in 1986, the hosts finished sixth out of twenty-seven teams. This time Scotland has had a very good fourth place finish from seventy-one teams with 19 gold medals in a total of 53 medals.


The Games move to the Gold Coast in 2018. It will be interesting to see how Australia responds to hosting the Games. Glasgow has shown that there is a very important place for the Games in the sporting calendar particularly as a way of inducting young people into international competition. Glasgow’s success in encouraging volunteering is a beacon for the Gold Coast too.

The competitive nature of these Games has done a great deal to highlight the benefits of holding a quadrennial multi-games event. Most people understand that achievements in the Games must be kept in context. Within them there are world-class performances and achievements whilst at the same time they give nations with limited infrastructure and funding the opportunity to compete. There will be homecoming parties all over the Commonwealth, many of them will be in rural Australia. All of them will have lots in common with David Katoatau’s return to Kiribati.


Photo Credits

People Make Glasgow (Cameron King, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Glasgow Green (Closing Ceremony) (Alex Slaven, CC BY 2.0)

Alana Boyd (Marc, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Storm Clouds gathering out at Allora (Matthew Paul, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Note: an edited version of this post appears in The Conversation.

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