#coachlearninginsport: self-organising networks

Last month, I was invited to join a group of coaches in an online forum.

I was delighted to be asked but I have spent much of the time as a peripheral participant … enjoying the open sharing but not contributing.

I thought listening might be a good way to start in a group of online acquaintances.

Yesterday, I responded to this message from one of the group:

Hi everyone. I’m early in the process of setting up new CPD events. I’ve been slightly dissatisfied with recent experiences and groups like this show the value of sharing and exploring new ideas.

They won’t be linked to NGB/club/County – more of a ‘by coaches, for coaches’ approach focusing on interaction, conceptualisation of ideas and discussion, building a network etc.

From your recent CPD experiences, what have been the best elements? If there was one thing you want, or would want, from a CPD experience then what would it be?

Any ideas and feedback welcome.

It seemed a great opportunity for me to discuss my thoughts about #coachlearninginsport.

It coincided too with my participation in an open online course, Connectivism and Learning. Stephen Downes is the facilitator of this course and he has this to say about connectivism:

At its heart, connectivism is the thesis that knowledge is distributed across a network of connections, and therefore that learning consists of the ability to construct and traverse those networks. (My emphasis)

Elsewhere, Stephen (2012) has discussed course design. He notes that in  a connectivist course “the content does not define the course”.

By navigating the content environment, and selecting content that is relevant to your own personal preferences and context, you are creating an individual view or perspective. So you are first creating connections between contents with each other and with your own background and experience. And working with content in a connectivist course does not involve learning or remembering the content. Rather, it is to engage in a process of creation and sharing. Each person in the course, speaking from his or her unique perspective, participates in a conversation that brings these perspectives together. (My emphasis)

I am hopeful that our online group might discuss these issues … if they are of interest.

For the time being, I look forward to engaging in a conversation on the platform that explores whether we might move from CPD to CPL and to celebrate the sense each of us makes of our self-organising networks.

Connected by shared interests.

Photo Credits

At Coogee (Keith Lyons, CC BY 4.0)

Pool of Dreams

IMG_0746My wife, Sue, and I have been in Sydney for six weeks.

We were fortunate to be able to stay in an apartment at Coogee close to Wylie’s Baths.

We tried to swim each day. At the start, the water temperature was 17 degrees and by the end it was moving close to 20.

I am fascinated by the history of Wylie’s Baths. I have always been a Field of Dreams person so was delighted to learn about Wilhelmina (Mina) Wylie.

As I was trying to persuade myself that the water was really warm, I thought about how good it was to be swimming in the pool used by one of the first two Australian female Olympic swimmers. Mina and her friend Fanny Durack went to the1912 Games in Stockholm. Fanny won the gold medal and Mina the silver in the first 100 metres race for women. They swam in a pool built in an inlet of Stockholm Harbour that must have seemed like home to Mina and Fanny.


In my Pool of Dreams moments at Wylie’s, I remembered my start in swimming at the Buckley Baths in the 1950s under the watchful eye of Latham Catherall (who was present when the Baths opened in 1928). I joined the water polo team in 1962 after a remarkable decade of success for the team.


I thought too about Colin Hardy, my swimming lecturer at Loughborough College in 1974-75. In a tribute to him, Di Bass wrote:

Colin was a great all round sports person but his love was for swimming. A day would not go by without his morning swim, even on holiday, so I am told, he would seek out the nearest pool.  I can remember on several occasions over the Christmas Vacations having an early morning dip in the freezing water of the 1930’s Sports Hall Pool on Boxing Day (officially closed for the holiday), along with others from his Masters Group. To be a member of the Masters Group was something to be proud of.  It consisted of members of staff, of varying ability but with a love for swimming.  Mind you, if you complained about the training session – always 2000 yards in length – then you were informed by Colin, in no uncertain terms, that no-one made you come!  During these sessions such ‘modern’ innovations as tumble turns were treated as ‘technique abuse’ but Colin’s gentle encouragement and enthusiasm made these sessions (always followed by coffee in the Martin Hall) thoroughly enjoyable, not to be missed, and part of the Loughborough day for those involved.

My memory of him is of a charismatic teacher who made swimming a delight. His preparation and attention to detail set a standard for me to which I aspired throughout my teaching career. He taught me how to observe technique and to do so with confidence.


As I tried to improve my trickle breathing at Wylie’s I thought about Mina, Latham and Colin. I did not try any tumble turns … just in case.

But I did think about long-term learning outcomes. Like thousands of swimmers before and after me, I have had over fifty years of benefit from Latham’s insights and nearly forty years of trying to establish and develop Colin’s pedagogy.

I wonder how both of them would have enjoyed coaching Mina.


Photo Credit

Mina Wylie (State Library of New South Wales, no known copyright restrictions. Appears in Wikipedia page about Mina)

Buckley Baths (Buckley Society)

Colin as Swim Captain (Loughborough Sport)

Warmth on a Rainy Day

4651578380_586d344f33_oWe were in Coogee yesterday.

Waiting for two very important hospital appointments.

It was raining. Sue and I were off to a hairdresser at the top of the town.

To our delight, as we approached the traffic crossing, we saw some guerilla knitting above the button to press to cross the road.

I thought about taking a photograph of the knitting that wrapped the post but decided to wait until it stopped raining. It was a yellow sleeve with L.O.V.E. knitted beautifully into the sleeve.

When we returned twenty minutes later it had gone!

We wondered who had taken it. We hoped it might be one of the members of Guerilla Knitting Sydney taking it home to dry.

We hoped that others had an opportunity to smile on a wet day too. Guerilla knitting does that to you.


Photo Credits

Coogee (Matthew Knott, CC BY NC-SA 2.0)

Guerilla Knitting (Nomad Tales, CC BY-SA 2.0)