Darrell and Adam: Connected Educators

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Introduction

Yesterday, I had the good fortune to visit the Centre for Performance Analysis in Cardiff. Darrell Cobner and Adam Cullinane were my perfect hosts for the day.

I was a member of staff in the Centre from its inception until my departure for Australia in 2002. I am delighted that the Centre is flourishing within Cardiff Metropolitan University. I admire immensely the vision Darrell brings to the Centre.

Throughout my visit I was struck by the connections Darrell and Adam were making. There were three themes that pervaded our discussions:

  • Connections through infrastructure
  • Connections with students
  • Connections in innovation

I believe these through, with and in connections are made even more powerful by open sharing. Darrell’s Vocational Performance Analysis post and Adam’s What has changed in Performance Analysis over the last 5 years? exemplify their reflection in and on action that define connected, sensitive educators.

Infrastructure

Cardiff-Met-Cyncoed-Campus_smI was astonished by the transformation of the Cyncoed Campus. Darrell and Adam gave me a guided tour of the facilities that have seen the Campus flourish.

I was very interested in the outdoor AP Capture system that has been installed.

This is a YouTube presentation (2m 45s) of the installation.

I was impressed by the decision making process that has made it possible to hard wire six IP cameras into a new build facility as the centre of the planning process rather than as an adjunct or afterthought to it. I like to the forethought too that went into providing six camera towers of different heights with coverage of three playing areas.

Darrell and Adam demonstrated the remote control of the system from their office and the versatility available to anyone capturing video from any of the six cameras available.

The Centre has an indoor Performance Analysis Laboratory. The addition of this outdoor facility creates remarkable opportunities for Cardiff Met students and their work integrated learning with University teams, community teams and national governing bodies. The close working relationship with Jon Moore and Josh Bryan of Analysis Pro makes this an exemplary education/industry partnership.

Students

A significant part of our conversation during the day was about student experience. I was keen to explore pedagogy issues that Darrell, Adam and I had discussed asynchronously through email and Twitter.

I am fascinated by the way Darrell and Adam work together to engage students. I am struck too by how much thought they give to changing their practice.

Darrell has chosen to share his ideas through the Medium platform. His most recent post makes this observation:

Ultimately, we are trying to create agile classes, courses, curricula and environments to maximise engagement of both staff and students and facilitate learning. But this needs to go beyond content-rich learning to be complimented by less structured informal experience-rich learning — provide guided discovery tasks/support that provides context for students to view and participate in the real world to learn the PA landscape.

We spent some time talking about Alan Levine’s ideas about structured exposure. I see Darrell and Adam as pedagogical technologists. Their craft is expressed in their support for students experimenting within an environment that values (and prioritises) sharing. This environment is shaped by the spirit and attitude of openness Darrell and Adam bring to their teaching opportunities.

We spent the best part of an hour discussing constructive alignment and how this might celebrate personal learning environments even with large classes of students passionate about performance analysis. I was keen to share my ideas about micro learning, dynamic evaluation and formative assessment. I did not have the opportunity to discuss the availability of the ds106 Assignment Bank on github but I see this as a fascinating way forward inspired by Alan Levine.

Darrell and Adam bring a connectivist approach to their teaching and their own learning. I admire their willingness to explore ideas in this way and to share their own fallibility as learners. They are outstanding role models for students who will soon enter a semantic web world.

Innovation

The final part of my visit was a treasure house of discovery for me. I think a Centre for Performance Analysis has a vital role to play as an innovation hot house. The AP capture environment is part of this technology led innovation at Cardiff Met.

I was delighted to learn that Darrell and Adam are constantly fossicking (my word not theirs) for cost effective innovation that makes coach and athlete support athlete affordable and sustainable. We agreed, I think, that this process requires the advocates of technology use to make training and competition environments less rather than more complex. There is an elegance in simplicity that can be delivered by performance analysts.

We had time to look at four exciting products:

WIMU (Real Track Systems)

I liked the functionality of these devices and the automated synchronisation with video.
wimu

Piero

As a visualisation platform to link students with the world of broadcasting.
Piero

Soloshot 2

A robot camera for tracking individual performance. (I thought this would be a great resource for referee and umpire development.)

Solo

MyPlayXPlay

A live streaming tablet/mobile Tagging Application.

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A Hyperbole Kind of Day

I am mindful that much of my language in this post about Darrell, Adam and the Centre for Performance Analysis is hyperbolic.

I am profoundly interested in Darrell and Adam’s development as pedagogical technologists. I am excited that their vision is being supported by the University. I think they offer a vital point of difference garnished by their connections with current students, alumni, technology providers and sporting organisations.

They are creating an extensive portfolio of open education resources. I laud them for their willingness to support student voices through blogging and other forms of sharing that take them outside conventional metrics of scholarly output.

The Centre has been in existence at the University since 1992. it was established through the vision and poltical support of members of the University. The Centre was founded on connectivist principles two decades ago (even though we did not have the descriptor). Then as now the aim was to think globally and act locally.

It was that kind of day.

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