Analytics: theory and practice

Stephen Downes provided a link to Dominic Wyse’s presentation (link) in his newsletter today (link). In his presentation as President of the British Educational Research Association, Dominic looks at the history of education as a discipline. His paper identifies three traditions in the discipline: academic knowledge traditions, practical knowledge traditions, and the interaction between the two traditions.

These traditions resonate with conversation underway about the place of analytics in sport. In his paper, Dominic observes that a discipline is defined “not only as an area of knowledge, but also as a community of scholars with a shared heritage which includes an infrastructure and traditions of published outputs and other modes of communication that underpin the discipline”. In his identification of traditions Dominic notes that Academic knowledge traditions foreground academic knowledge. Practical knowledge traditions includes the ideas behind competences and standards, and ideas that are part of networked professional knowledge. Integrated knowledge traditions attempt to bring academic and practical knowledge into some kind of relationship with each other. This integration involves activities such as action research.

Dominic points out that different knowledge traditions coexist in the history of development of education in any one country or region. I think the same is true of sport analytics too particularly as academic departments in universities seek to integrate knowledge traditions and emerging practices.

He concludes his paper with this observation “education and its research in diverse topics, using a wide range of methods, influenced by a multitude of theories, is seeking to find ways that inequalities in learning, or we might say ‘intergroup learning’, can be addressed through appropriate teaching”. I think this is a fundamental issue for sports analytics too as we start to contemplate how to manage and analyse the vast amounts of data becoming available.

In this regard, the Let Them Eat Cake (link) approaches in backward design encourage us to think how we prepare students for a world of work and how we integrate the knowledge traditions, Dominic identified. We have a great deal to learn from the discipline of education as we contemplate how to integrate academic approaches to analysing data with dynamic practice in sport.

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