Bridging and Connecting at #SAC16

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Introduction

A friend, Chris Barnes, is a panel member in a session at Friday’s Asia Pacific Analytics in Sport Conference (#SAC16) in Melbourne. The aim of the panel session is to discuss directions in sport technology research.

Chris is a member of a panel that includes Allan Hahn, Tino Fuss, Daniel James and Stephanie Kovalchik.

Chris and I met yesterday. Our conversation about the conference in general and the panel in particular sent me off to reread a William Geoghegan paper from 1994 and to look at a George Couros blog post from earlier this week.

George’s post encouraged me to think about the bridges we build between each other’s views and William’s paper directed me to contemplate how we connect between and within organisations to support technological and methodological change.

Bridging

I am hopeful that the diversity of interests and experiences will lead to a lively discussion and perhaps some disagreement about trends in research.

In his discussion, George Couros observes:

One of the things I tell participants in my sessions is to not disagree with me after the day, but during. It only helps myself, and the room, to truly grow.

This he suggests enables him to build bridges not walls.

George quotes Sean Blanda “We should all enter every issue with the very real possibility that we might be wrong this time” (original emphasis).

Sean adds:

But we won’t truly progress as individuals until we make an honest effort to understand those that are not like us. And you won’t convince anyone to feel the way you do if you don’t respect their position and opinions.

I have not participated in a panel discussion for a long time. I hope Chris enjoys building bridges with his panel colleagues.

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Connecting

There will be a diversity of interests at #SAC16. In addition to bridge building there will be opportunities to connect. Both activities take me back to William Geoghegan. The title of his paper is Whatever Happened to Instructional Technology?

I think it gives a great insight into technological innovation and adoption.

William starts with a reflection on instructional technology:

Despite massive technology expenditures over the last decade or so, the widespread availability of substantial computing power at increasingly reasonable prices, and a growing “comfort level” with this technology among college and university faculty, information technology is not being integrated into the teaching and learning process nearly as much as people have regularly predicted since it arrived on the educational scene three or four decades ago.

I wondered what this might mean for the embedding of performance monitoring and analytics in sport.

In one part of the paper, William addresses unrealistic expectations. He notes:

bringing even a relatively simple instructional application to the degree of completeness and stability necessary for broader dissemination can require at least three years of development and testing

and

for most instructional applications the elapsed time from initiation of development to successful distribution has typically ranged from five to more than ten years. There has also been a failure to appreciate the impact that fast-paced changes in information technology have had upon the longevity of necessary skills, the cost of upgrading hardware and software, and even the design and implementation process itself.

To this he adds human factors as a limitation on innovation and adoption.

The model that we have most commonly used for supporting the development of instructional technology – with its focus on technical support for technically “literate” faculty who often have strong track records of success in this area – may be well suited to the characteristics and needs of technologists, of technically inclined faculty innovators, and even technology vendors. But it is ill- adapted to the interests and needs of mainstream instructional faculty, whose concerns lie more with the teaching, research, and administrative tasks they have to address than with technologies that, at best, may assist in addressing them. The mismatch, in fact, may be so great in many circumstances as to alienate mainstream faculty from the more technically inclined early adopters, opening a gap between the two so great as to reduce or eliminate the likelihood of mainstream faculty actually adopting instructional technology for their own classroom use.

William contrasts early adopters of technology with early majority adopters.

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I think these characteristics are present in organisations today. It will be interesting to learn how the entrepreneurial drivers of the technology space work with and support the intrapreneurial drivers within organisations.

I imagine the meeting of both worlds and the governance issues to be addressed at #SAC16 will come to consider William’s conclusion:

Technology in the service of ineffective teaching will do nothing to improve the quality of instruction; it will simply perpetuate and even amplify poor teaching. Likewise, good teaching can often be enhanced by even simple technology, wisely and sensitively applied. In either event, the process begins with teaching; technology comes second.

This for me leads to a profoundly important discussion about what is to constitute performance in the short, medium and long term … and how might the technologies and methodologies that so fascinate us become invisible.

Photo Credits

Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge (Wessex Archeology, CC BY-NC 2.0)

Tightrope walk at Wembley Stadium (Simon Chapman, CC By-NC-ND 2.0)

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