I have been thinking a great deal of late about how coaches flourish in a Digital Age.
I am interested in particular how innovative national sport organisations commit to becoming learning organisations to enable this flourishing through their investment in education and development.
Learning Organisations and the Web that Will Be
In 1990, Peter Senge argued that learning organisations are:
…organizations where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to see the whole together.
The emergence of a learning sporting organisation in the next decade requires leaders to embrace and pursue how to link knowledge within and outside their organisation. Fefie Dotsika (2012a) observes that while larger companies “take better advantage of intellectual assets, in order to enhance productivity and increase competitiveness”, smaller companies with web presence “have remained reluctant to do the same”.
I believe that national sporting organisations
can have to overcome their small size and by being connected organisations, internally and externally, to accept opportunities to be early adopters of the next wave of Web-based innovations.
There are a number of terms that are used to describe these coming Web innovations: Web 3.0, the Semantic Web, the Web of Data, and Web x.0.
This is how Steven Wheeler (2010) visualised the move to Web x.0.
Tim Berners-Lee (1996) envisaged that the Web would be ” a shared space for communication of all types of information” . The Web has evolved from its early forms (1.0) into the social space imagined by Tim Berners-Lee. Many commentators refer to this social turn as Web 2.0 although this change relates directly to “cumulative changes in the way Web pages are made and used” rather than an update to a technical specification.
Paul Smart and Nigel Shadbolt (2014), for example, report:
A key trend in the recent technological evolution of the Web has been the development of applications and services that support greater levels of user participation in the generation and management of online content. The Web has now emerged as a platform in which user communities play a key role in terms of what appears online, and the sole purpose of many sites on the Web is to support users in generating, editing and organizing online content. With the transition to greater levels of user participation, we have witnessed the rise of what has been referred to as the ‘Social Web’: a suite of applications, services, technologies, formats, protocols and other resources, all united in their attempt to both foster and support social interaction.
The move to Web 3.0, the Semantic Web, the Web of Data, and Web x.0 will be energised by the availability of new generations of mobile devices. This is Steve Wheeler’s (2010) slide that emphasises his point about the eXtended Web.
In 1998, I felt very assured that convergence would eventually impact on sporting organisations. Early adopters understood the potential of this convergence.
This is one of my slides from a presentation made to Australian sporting organisations in that year:
A second slide from the same presentation:
I hope that my sense of what might happen after 1998 holds me in good stead to be a passionate advocate for the next phase of sport organisations’ engagement with the Web’s developments.
I have been struck by how many innovative educational technologists there are in national sporting organisations. This post has been prompted, in part, by a prospective meeting with one such innovator in a UK sporting organisation.
Such innovators do not always have powerful status in a hierarchical organisation. In flat organisations they will be leading the considered charge to a Semantic future.
Back in 2004, Stephen Downes wrote about the semantic social network. In his post, he argued that “Two types of technologies are about to merge. The technologies are content syndication, used by blogging websites around the world, and social networking”.
Stephen concluded his post with a look at David Foreman’s ideas, namely:
- “Most training and educational professionals have focused their efforts on learning in individuals, not organizations.The competitive strength of companies and even countries is now tied not to physical resources but to the knowledge and skills of people. And these people do not work in isolation within companies; they work in teams, informal groups and in multiple roles.”
- There are two ‘levels’ of organizational learning: a ‘contribution level’, in which knowledge is created and input into the system, and a ‘multiplier level’, in which knowledge is shared and reshaped by a community, making the aggregation of the contributions greater than the individual parts.
Stephen proposes “What is true of learning organizations is true of online community in general. Content without community cannot achieve its full impact. Community without content is empty. It is only through the joining or fusing of these two levels that the full advantages of both worlds may be realized”.
The fusion that Stephen identifies is the driver for those whom John Markoff (2006) identified as seeking “to add a layer of meaning on top of the existing Web that would make it less of a catalog and more of a guide — and even provide the foundation for systems that can reason in a human fashion”.
Steffan Staab and his colleagues at the University of Koblenz-Landau (2014) have noted that this process has been slower than hoped. In her PhD studies, Fefie Dotsika (2012b) suggests “the next web generation will be a hybrid mix of Web 2.0 technologies reinforced with semantic markup. … An obvious stepping stone towards this direction is the use of semantic APIs”.
I am struck by the potential of Semantic connections. I wonder if any sporting organisation might be able to learn from W3C’s Linked Open Data Cloud.
This image shows datasets that have been published in Linked Data format, by contributors to the Linking Open Data community project and other individuals and organisations. If you visit the web based version of the picture here (http://lod-cloud.net/) a click on the image will take you to an image map, where each dataset has a hyperlink to its own homepage.
The diagram is maintained by Richard Cyganiak and Anja Jentzsch. Both are perfect examples of the kind of people with whom national sporting organisations
should must be speaking. There are experts all over the world to help sport.
An X(.0) Factor?
I do feel passionately about this Semantic turn. I believe that in accepting the affordances available to us, we can position national sporting organisations as powerful, connected learning organisations.
Peter Senge (1990) proposes:
When you ask people about what it is like being part of a great team, what is most striking is the meaningfulness of the experience. People talk about being part of something larger than themselves, of being connected, of being generative. It become quite clear that, for many, their experiences as part of truly great teams stand out as singular periods of life lived to the fullest. Some spend the rest of their lives looking for ways to recapture that spirit.
He discusses the role personal mastery plays for and in an organisation. This mastery is “the discipline of continually clarifying and deepening our personal vision, of focusing our energies, of developing patience, and of seeing reality objectively”.
People with a high level of personal mastery live in a continual learning mode. They never ‘arrive’. Sometimes, language, such as the term ‘personal mastery’ creates a misleading sense of definiteness, of black and white. But personal mastery is not something you possess. It is a process. It is a lifelong discipline. People with a high level of personal mastery are acutely aware of their ignorance, their incompetence, their growth areas. And they are deeply self-confident. Paradoxical? Only for those who do not see the ‘journey is the reward’.
We can be part of this journey … together in an x.0 way.