On-Going Learning: Seeing Patterns, Changing What We Know


Stephen Downes has shared slides from a talk he gave in Newfoundland this week.

His topic was personal professional development.

Some of the points Stephen makes in the presentation resonate strongly with my thinking about personal learning journeys. These include:

  • Learning as the reshaping of your personal world view (slide 5)
  • Learning is changing what you already know (slide 8)
  • Perceiving patterns (slide 12)

For some time now I have worked to find ways to share practice that exemplify, Stephen’s ideas about aggregating, remixing, repurposing and feeding forward in personal learning environments. His work has helped and encouraged me to change what I know and to explore patterns.

One of my favourite quotes at the moment is from a 2006 paper by Peter Dowrick, Weol Soon Kim-Rupnow and Thomas Power. This uses feedforward in a different way to Stephen.

Humans distinguish themselves by being able to learn through observing successes they have not yet had. This type of self-modeling is known as feedforward, an image of future mastery.

Peter, Weol Soon and Thomas’s paper reports work on helping children to read. I think their quote extends beautifully to continuing professional learning too. In terms of my own learning, I saw connections between Stephen’s use of feedforward and my long-term interest (since the early 1980s) in feedforward as self-modeling in Peter Dowrick’s work. (This is the paper that started my journey in 1980.)

Stephen’s talk is titled ‘Riding the Wave’. One of the references in his talk is to Douglas Rushkoff. Back in 1994, Douglas was writing about surfing the wave of Sisyphus. He introduces the first chapter of his book, Cyberia, with a quote from John Barlow:

On the most rudimentary level there is simply terror of feeling like an immigrant in a place where your children are natives -where you’re always going to be behind the 8-ball because they can develop the technology faster than you can learn it.
It’s what I call the learning curve of Sisyphus. And the only people who are going to be comfortable with that are people who don’t mind confusion and ambiguity. I look at confusing circumstances as an opportunity – but not everybody feels that way. … At best it’s a matter of surfing the whitewater.


Anyone who has tried body surfing, body boarding or surfing will appreciate those first feelings of confusion, uncertainty and instability. Persistence leads to some stability and practice can lead to something approaching mastery.

I take the essence of continuing learning to be a willingness to lose balance to find a new balance. As a meddler in the process of other people’s learning I am hopeful that I can support and prompt the transition from one balance to another whilst being mindful of the sensory disturbance that accompanies the surfing.


Photo Credits

Surf (Rafael Torales, CC BY-NC 2.0)

Ivy and Joly at Wipeout Bay (Keith Lyons). A photograph taken at Long Beach, NSW after our first bodyboard session. Ivy and I were wiped out coming in on a big wave … but we went back and caught the next one.


You+(+): #coachlearninginsport


I have an opportunity to meet some rugby union coaches on Sunday. (Not the ones in the slide above.)

It will be the final morning of an intensive four-day course. Some of them will have long journeys home ahead of them. I imagine all of them will have cognitive fatigue after three days of conversation, practical activities and classroom sessions.

I have been thinking about how to approach this session.

As with many of my presentations at the moment, I have flipped the presentation and shared it in advance … in case the coaches would like to access it when it is convenient for them.

I am using Google Slides for this presentation. I have speaker notes for each of the slides to indicate where my thoughts are taking me.

The theme of my talk is about personal learning journeys in coaching. In the title You+(+):

You refers to each coach’s autobiographical experience

+ refers to the qualifications they have been awarded

(+) refers to what each makes of the You+ on their learning journeys

I have a Pdf of the presentation here. The hyperlinks should work in the document to take you to two videos I might use on the day. Both are very short. Both are from 2012.

The first encapsulates some of my thoughts about my experience of playfulness and speaks to Roger Caillois’ concept of mimicry in play and games.

The second might be a good way to end. I think it facilitates a conversation about the role of a coach in supporting and creating cultural values. Clarity about values creates We and Us possibilities that might lead us into the magical space symbolised by (+).

There is delightful laughter at the end of the video.

I am hopeful that this is the essence of #coachlearninginsport … an intrinsic delight in trying to be someone who changes their life and the lives of those people they touch.

Perhaps the group might leave the room energised on Sunday. I am excited feeding forward to it as aspiring to Peter Dowrick’s sense of “being able to learn through observing successes they have not yet had”.

Photo Credit

This is Slide 5 in my presentation. These are my speaker notes about the compilation:

Rugby Coaching has emerged in my lifetime. I had the opportunity to meet some very special coaches in my formative years. Carwyn James was a tutor on my WRU coaching course. Ray Williams’ thinking gave me ideas about principles of play. Jim Greenwood took me to a completely different place to understand performance. Tony Gray helped me understand clarity of message. John Dawes helped me with the art of coaching … and then Pierre Villepreux disrupted everything!

Graduate Certificate in Sport Analytics at the University of Canberra

3b4d8237f7217c1737fa633774867e8cJocelyn Mara has created a Graduate Certificate in Sports Analytics at the University of Canberra.

The University website has this link to the course.

I am excited by this development. Jocelyn will add a distinctive voice and approach to the sharing of insights into the analysis of performance.

I was fortunate to meet her during her undergraduate study at the University and then watched with admiration as she completed an Honours’ project in performance analysis, became a performance analysis scholar at the Australian Institute of Sport and received her PhD.

In addition to her research interests, Jocelyn has also explored the possibilities of creating open educational resources.

With her permission I would like to share some news of the graduate certificate.

Jocelyn writes:

I will be encouraging a Bring Your Own Software approach to the course, as I will be using Open Source software such as RStudio and LongoMatch. Students will have access to Tableau. I will also be using Excel quite a lot throughout the course.

I preparing a MOOC to run on the Canvas Network which will be a 4-week taster of the entire Graduate Certificate (one week for each unit). This will commence in January 2017.

I am delighted with the open aspects of the course. Jocelyn is discussing how her approach might fit in with Roland Goecke‘s work at the University of Canberra to offer a Masters in Data Science with a Sport Analytics strand.

This is the content of the Graduate Certificate course in Sports Analytics:

Unit 1: Performance Analysis in Sport

1.1 Identifying Performance Indicators

1.2 Designing Observational Systems and Collecting Data

1.3 Data Analysis and Interpretation

1.4 Feedback and Communication


  • Collecting sports data
  • Analysing data
  • Visualising data
  • Online quiz
  • Match Analysis assessment

Unit 2: Athlete Monitoring

2.1 Player tracking

2.2 Monitoring athletes with self-report systems

2.3 Training load and injury

2.4 Performance testing


  • Analysing player tracking data
  • Analysing RPE and well-being data
  • Monitoring training load
  • Analysing performance testing data
  • Online quiz
  • Athlete monitoring assignment

Unit 3: Applied Data Analysis in Sport

3.1 Data management and transformation

3.2 Determining associations

3.3 Predicting outcomes

3.4 Determining differences

3.5 Data visualisation

Unit 4: Sport Informatics and Analytics

4.1 Introductions

4.2 Pattern recognition

4.3 Performance monitoring

4.4 Audiences and messages


Formative ePortfolio to document engagement with unit 4.

I am hopeful that many of the resources I have been aggregating and curating will be supportive of Jocelyn’s work, particularly with unit 4 and this WikiEducator resource.

I hope this course is of interest to the sport industry. One of my ideas is that we support people who are in sport by offering flexible and open learning opportunities. I acknowledge too that some people might like a fee-for service structured attention opportunity that aligns them closely with a university and provides blended learning experiences.

I think that Jocelyn’s work can articulate with other institutions and communities of practice as each of decides how we continue to learn.