Coaching Ideas

Two fragments came together yesterday and sent me off thinking about coaching.

The first came in an email message from Jo Gibson. She is writing up her PhD at the moment and we have been discussing narrative forms. In her email, Jo shared a description of a short story as:

something glimpsed from the corner of the eye, in passing. An illuminated moment … a glimpse of truth, about which you have forgotten to ask.

When I read that I thought that it was a powerful description of coaches’ experiences as they try to extend their practice. I particularly like the “forgotten to ask” part.

In my own coaching, the forgotten parts emerge through reflection and become part of the next short story, sometimes made explicit, but often left unsaid, embedded in the guided discovery I have planned.

The second fragment also came in the form an email. A friend had seen the first episode of Monty Don’s Paradise Gardens programs. In that program, Monty visits Isfahan, Kashnan, Shiraz and Pasargadae in Iran. There is archeological evidence of a garden at the heart of Cyrus’s 6th century palace at Pasargadae. The program note observes:

When the Arabs invaded Persia in the 6th century, it was these Zoroastrian gardens that influenced their ideas not only of what a garden should be, but of paradise itself.

What struck me about this was that our gardens today are connected to this garden. Our practices have their roots (literally and metaphorically) in Persia.

These two fragments came together in my thinking about how we learn to be coaches and develop our own sense of coaching.

In our coaching, I believe we glimpse the coaching of others who preceded us. On some days, the way a coaching session evolves gives us a taste of ‘paradise’ … in Iranian, a word that describes an enclosed space.

At such moments, our coaching is connected with the ideas that have been explored in other places and are realised in our own design.

Photo Credits

Grenada in 2D (Alexander Savin, CC BY-NC 2.0)

Wrestler and his coach (Michael Heiniger, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Thinking about analytics

A line in Colin Beer’s Learning analytics and magic beans (1 March 2018) “Learning analytics requires a learning approach …” sent me off thinking about how discussions about learning analytics in education might facilitate conversations about analytics in sport.

I produced this slide deck to think out loud:

Photo Credit
Making Sense Of The Data: For You And Your Coach (Jacquie Tran, 2014)

Thinking about course design

I have been thinking about designing University courses in an age of open educational resources.

My particular interest at the moment is the combination of data science and sport analytics.

I keep returning to the idea of a ‘pedagogical technologist‘ able to offer ‘structured exposure’ to learners who might not otherwise choose to attend university. I see structured exposure as the key here if we are to offer a service to students in an institutional setting.

My inspiration is Alan Levine.

In 2014, Howard Rheingold described Alan as a pedagogical technologist “an architect of open, connected learning systems that enable students to take power over and responsibility for (and joy in!) their own learning”.

Howard added “Many people have something to say about what to do with the educational opportunities afforded by digital media. Fewer can persuasively articulate a case for specific pedagogies that digital media enable”.

I think Alan does this profoundly well.

Howard observed “while schools no longer have a monopoly on learning because free digital media can be used to learn anything, knowing what to learn, how to learn, what questions to ask, isn’t a given, even with the savvy online self-learner. The role of the instructor has not gone away, but it has shifted …”

This shift came to mind this morning when I read Bharath Raj’s How to play Quidditch using the TensorFlow Object Detection API.

I wondered how I might engage students like Bharath should he want to extend his domain knowledge to sports other than Quidditch as he guided his readers “through creating your own custom object detection program, using a fun example of Quidditch from the Harry Potter universe! (For all you Star Wars fans, here’s a similar blog post that you might like)”.

In his post he noted:

My motive was pretty straightforward. I wanted to build a Quidditch Seeker using TensorFlow. Specifically, I wanted to write a program to locate the snitch at every frame.

But then, I decided to up the stakes. How about trying to identify all the moving pieces of equipment used in Quidditch?

I though any design for learning I might propose would need to be profoundly personal. In this case, I wondered how prospective students might be introduced to object detection in sport using Bharat’s blog post as a problem finding start to a learning journey that encompassed first principles and granular detail.

I thought I might extract some provocations from the post and suggest students go back to some early work by Janez Pers and his colleagues (2002) and on to some of the more recent ‘ghosting’ studies of basketball and football.

This could become a spontaneous hackathon. At the University of Canberra, for example, I imagine this being facilitated by Roland Goecke in ways that underscored the power of structured exposure.

I hope students and teachers would have personal and shared learning journals that make transparent the emerging understanding about big things and small things. In doing so, we would all be moving toward a world that will be rather than a world that was.

I sense that pedagogical technologists are at home in this world of emerging performances of understanding. It is a fallible environment that demands institutions themselves become much more agile and much more imaginative in ways that courses are designed and assessed.

Photo Credits

Music abducted me (Carlos Romo, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Alan Levine on/of the web (Kristina Hoeppner, CC BY-SA 2.0)

A model Fenway Day (Brian Talbot, CC BY-NC 2.0)