Synoptic Vision


Two years ago, I explored the possibility of visualising actual performance compared to predicted performance … after a visit to the Sydney Moderns Exhibition and learning about Roy de Maistre ‘s use of colour.

This week, a Kevin Ferguson post has encouraged me to think about how video might be used as a synoptic tool for performance analysts.

Kevin wrote about watching 50 Western films and compressing each film into single frames of form and light. To create his image of each film, Kevin extracted one frame from every 10 seconds of the film and summed with the others to create a real image.

Kevin suggests that the images have the potential to be evocative and to allow an emotional response “confirmed or denied once you come to discover what the image really is”.

I found Kevin’s approach fascinating. He introduced me to:

His approach to brightness, hue and saturation took me back to and beyond Roy de Maistre.


Kevin’s April 2015 post is full of detail about his approach to the creation of images. He has another technical post about ImageJ written in 2013.

In the 2013 post, Kevin discusses the approach he has taken to re-visualise film

Since a film (along with, most often, its audio track) operates primarily by visual means, we should recognize the film itself as already a “visualization.” Just as with data visualization

Kevin quotes Victor Shklovsky:

The purpose of art is to impart the sensation of things as they are perceived and not as they are known. The technique of art is to make objects ‘unfamiliar,’ to make forms difficult, to increase the difficulty and length of perception because the process of perception is an aesthetic end in itself and must be prolonged.

Kevin’s two posts have prompted me to think about all the video we have in sport from training and competition environments. I wondered how we might use these to add a new dimension to our understanding of performance by increasing the difficulty and length of perception … and stimulating discussions about aesthetic understanding.

I wondered if we might use Kevin’s approach to re-visualisation as a new form of trigger images.

This is my visualisation of an AFL Champion team’s performance based on data:


A team that improved during an AFL season appears like this:


I wondered what synoptic vision of these performances Kevin’s video methodology might produce.

Kevin concludes his 2015 post thus:

As a scholar, though, what use are these average looks — which strip out virtually all narrative, characterization, plot, sound, dialogue, and action? I don’t yet have a cogent answer to that question, but I do have a strong suspicion that film studies will benefit from new modes of visualization such as this one, which represent film texts from an otherwise impossible perspective — in this case, along the z-axis that compresses the film’s time into a single frame of form and light.

I am hopeful that sport might grasp these “new modes of visualisation … from an otherwise impossible perspective”.

Perhaps we might then explore the essence of sport.

Photo Credits

Monument Valley 02 (Rich Michaels, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Lights, Abstract (Louis Vest, CC BY-NC 2.0)

Being a Technologist



I am old enough to have experienced PT … physical training in school.

I was reminded of PT this week when Howard Rheingold described Alan Levine as a Pedagogical Technologist.

Howard discussed Alan’s experiences of stimulating and supporting student learning in a thirty minute Vimeo recording.

This PT is a very long way temporally and conceptually from my first PT experiences.

Technology as Practice

I did listen carefully to the conversation between Howard and Alan. I did not hear the term ‘pedagogical technologist’ mentioned explicitly. I do think it is an excellent description of Alan and his teaching.

The conversation between Harold and Alan covered Alan’s work from 1992 to the present day. I found it fascinating to learn about Alan’s development as a teacher and open access practitioner. I admire Alan’s work immensely and I regard his involvement in the development of ds106 as a model for me to follow as I explore open learning opportunities.

Digital Storytelling (also affectionately known as ds106) is an open, online course that happens at various times throughout the year at the University of Mary Washington… but you can join in whenever you like and leave whenever you need. This course is free to anyone who wants to take it, and the only requirements are a real computer, a hardy internet connection, preferably a domain of your own and some commodity web hosting, and all the creativity you can muster.

There is an important message about creativity in Howard and Alan’s conversation. Alan discussed the significance of students meeting in a physical space in synchronous time. He and Harold agreed about the place of structured exposure to ideas and practices. Alan talked about the classroom morphing into a studio wherein students worked creatively in adjacent spaces. Harold amplified this point with his mention of Chris Bache’s work on collective consciousness and Richard Sennett’s discussion of craft as “doing something well for its own sake”.

I think this is the world of the pedagogical technologist. The craft of this technologist is, I think, to support student’s experimenting within an environment that values (and prioritises) sharing. I agree entirely that this practice is shaped by the spirit and attitude of openness.

There are lessons for all of us in Alan’s practice about how to be creative about assessment. I think the daily create part of ds106 that extends students’ reach with low challenge practice is very powerful in creating a culture of exploration. I admire the opportunities students have to modify their assessment tasks if they can be bold and narrate and explain why they have taken an alternative path.

I sense that pedagogical technologists work with students to move beyond unthinking compliance to a reflective response to learning opportunities. This resonates strongly with Alan’s interest in Jon Udell’s narrating our work.


I enjoyed Alan’s discussion of a blogging voice too. He affirmed how important it is for him to blog and I was reassured by his suggestion that finding his voice took him some considerable time. I share Alan’s interest in blogging as an iterative “conversation with myself” to clarify one’s thinking.


Harold discussed serendipitous opportunities afforded by a spirit of openness. Alan talked about some of his experiences that have emerged from sharing and making connections.

I had my own serendipity at the time of viewing the interview. My Paper.Li aggregator brought me a link from Steve Wheeler to his Changing the learning landscape blog post. In the post, Steve reports that ‘a one day workshop on social media and learning in higher education that will be held at the University of Warwick on April 24’.

Steve is speaking at the workshop and shares some of the flyer for the event:

Social media turns the traditional static web into a participatory and collaborative experience. Social media enables individuals to discuss, share, and learn via different kinds of media, such as text, video, photos. The use of social media is increasing within higher education to teach and support student learning. The range of different social media platforms is ever expanding and it can seem quite daunting trying to navigate through this and find effective methods for learning and teaching. This workshop will discuss a range of social media platforms and provide examples of their use within learning and teaching.

I think the workshop would find Harold and Alan’s conversation extremely pertinent. The attraction of the participatory web for me is that we can connect with practice in a spirit of openness. The workshop ‘will look to inspire leadership of pedagogic development of the use of social media platforms’.

I imagine the same issues will be addressed in terms of open networked participatory scholarship.

Pedagogy and scholarship will flourish in institutions that are able to embrace the spirit of openness for pro-active strategic outcomes rather than re-active operational expediency. The visionary institutions are becoming very different spaces for learning.

A second link, shared with me by Darrell Cobner, took me to this quote ‘the true experts, ultimately, only needed one main specialized skill, storytelling, to thrive in social media’ … and thus back to ds106.

This course will require you to both design and build an online identity (if you don’t have one already) and narrate your process throughout the fifteen week semester. Given this, you will be expected to openly frame this process and interact with one another throughout the course as well as engage and interact with the world beyond as a necessary part of such a development.

In many ways this course will be part storytelling workshop, part technology training, and, most importantly, part critical interrogation of the digital landscape that is ever increasingly mediating how we communicate with one another.

ds106 course objectives are:

    • Develop skills in using technology as a tool for networking, sharing, narrating, and creative self-expression.
    • Frame a digital identity wherein you become both a practitioner in and interrogator of various new modes of networking.
    • Critically examine the digital landscape of communication technologies as emergent narrative forms and genres.



It is a long bow to draw to conclude this post, but in the spirit of a personal conversation …

Physical training emphasised order, compliance and whole group participation. Instructors delivered their content in a formal classroom. Pupils attended and sanctions were applied for non-compliance often in the form of ‘punishments’ in front of the whole class.

Pedagogical Technologists are the antitheses of this training model.

Harold and Alan have given me a much clearer sense of how this pedagogy can take place in a structured physical setting as well as in personally driven asynchronous spaces. It is an education model not a training model. It is a facilitation approach rather than an instruction approach. It is profoundly educational in its epistemology and ontology.

It has a lot to share about order and chaos. It is where we will be.

Photo Credit

Frame Grab (Connected Learning Alliance)


Children at physical training in Llanfyllin church school (The National Library of Wales, no known copyright restrictions)

One of those days: fireworks

Today has been one of those days.

An early morning link shared by John Kessel sent me off thinking.

When this happens the day becomes timeless. It is a fireworks in the head time.

Ironically, the video link John shared was about fireworks.

3 minutes 11 seconds of help to think about caring, teaching and learning.

Some information about Ben … the musician in the background.