#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)

Treasure Trove


Last week was another treasure trove week for me. It started with my daughter Beth’s first blog post and concluded with news of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) running at present.

Treasure Baskets

Beth’s post about treasure baskets set me off thinking about the possibilities of guided discovery in play. I thought too about the personalisation that might occur in learning as teachers and coaches adapt the idea of a treasure basket to their own learning environments. A treasure basket is a collection of everyday objects chosen to stimulate the different senses. I followed up on Beth’s discussion of the role the basket has in heuristic play.

Elaine Lambe notes that heuristic play “is the term used to describe play for babies, infants and toddlers that actively encourages exploration by using and developing their senses.” As with all treasure troves one discovery leads to another and through Elaine’s post I found Elinor Goldschmied‘s work. Valerie Jackson has provided a great insight into Elinor’s work. I liked Valerie’s observation that:

Elinor understood the importance of accepting every child as a unique and gifted individual. She didn’t waste time trying to categorise or label children as having special needs, additional needs or anything else. They were all children and we were all the people tasked with the responsibility to encourage and raise good citizens.

She understood that learning to negotiate and compromise are positive skills to allow children to develop so that friendships grow and become strong in the nursery years so that the process of maturation and finally reaching adulthood becomes less arduous and isolating. If a child has one particular adult with whom they can develop a positive relationship during their time away from family, such as in the nursery, then their stay is less traumatic and their play and learned behaviours become more positive. From this, the idea of a key person has evolved and is currently promoted by the Early Years Foundation Stage in the United Kingdom.

Elinor worked with Sonia Jackson to write about People Under Three. I think their work has enormous implications for all learning. I will follow up on their key person ideas. “The key person makes sure that, within the day-to-day demands of thesetting, each child for whom they have special responsibility feels individual, cherished and thought about by someone inparticular while they are away from home.”


The concept of a key person was reinforced for me this week with news of two MOOC events. Learning and Knowledge Analytics (LAK11) has been underway for a week. After my participation in CCK08 I have viewed George Siemens as a key person in my learning and trust implicitly his making sense of the world. I am impressed constantly by George’s energy as a guide and catalyst for learning. I will struggle to be an active participant in LAK11 and hope that legitimate peripheral participation is acceptable. There are some great resources available at LAK11 … a wonderful trove. I liked Dave Cormier’s post this week about the roles that can be played in a MOOC.

Stephen Downes is another key person in my learning. I have been writing about Stephen’s work from the origins of this blog. Many of my posts are inspired by links Stephen shares in OLDaily. Stephen is facilitating CCK11 with George Siemens. The course outline is here and week 1 news is here. I was interested to read George’s observation that “We are doing away with the central-space of Moodle – our final break from the LMS and will be using only the commenting feature within gRSShopper. While it might not seem like a huge change on the surface, it is probably our most significant experiment to date.” I found a newer version of Kroc Carmen’s post about RSS via a link in OLDaily.

Both courses are treasure baskets for me. It is great to start the day in Australia with news of goings on in Canada. I have an opportunity to explore ideas some fifteen hours ahead of convivial discussion in the Northern Hemisphere.


Sonia Jackson points out that Elinor Goldschmied’s first job was “in the junior school of Dartington Hall, the “progressive” school in Devon, where she stayed for five years. Dartington in the 1930s provided an exciting cultural and political environment which changed her view of the world.” The post that started me off on this reflection on treasure trove was written by a pupil at the Park School, Dartington. Beth was at the school in the late 1980s and like Elinor has been profoundly influenced by the possibilities of play in learning.

I am immensely proud of Beth’s entry into blogging. Her vision is to find ways to share knowledge and connect parents of young children. She, George and Stephen have a great deal in common in the altruism of connecting.

Working Together

Last year I wrote a large number of posts about personal learning. Towards the end of the year I started to think about how spaces provide opportunities to connect personal learning. This year I am hoping to develop these ideas about Commons spaces. I hope too to explore how we talk about and write about these spaces.

My first post for 2011 is about collective intelligence. Back in September, 2010, Science published a paper by Anita Williams Woolley, Christopher F. Chabris, Alex Pentland, Nada Hashmi, and Thomas W. Malone titled Evidence for a collective intelligence factor in the performance of human groups. The authors noted that:

In two studies with 699 people, working in groups of two to five, we find converging evidence of a general collective intelligence factor that explains a group’s performance on a wide variety of tasks. This “c factor” is not strongly correlated with the average or maximum individual intelligence of group members but is correlated with the average social sensitivity of group members, the equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking, and the proportion of females in the group.

The ACA Wiki observes of this study that:

c was correlated with the average social sensitivity of the group and in the equality of term turn-taking as measured through socio-metric badges in the group. It was also correlated with the proportion of females in the group although OLS regressions implied that this was because females were more likely to take turns an to be more socially sensitive.

I was intrigued by the mention of socio-metric badges in this report and discovered from a paper by Benjamin Waber and Sandy Pentland that these badges are capable of:

  • Recognizing common daily human activities (such as sitting, standing, walking, and running) in real time using a 3-axis accelerometer.
  • Extracting speech features in real time to capture non-linguistic social signals such as interest and excitement, the amount of influence each person has on another in a social interaction, and unconscious back-and-forth interjections, while ignoring the words themselves in order to assuage privacy concerns.
  • Performing indoor user localization by measuring received signal strength and using triangulation algorithms that can achieve position estimation errors as low as 1.5 meters, which also allows for detection of people in close physical proximity.
  • Communicating with Bluetooth enabled cell phones, PDAs, and other devices to study user behavior and detect people in close proximity.
  • Capturing face-to-face interaction time using an IR sensor that can detect when two people wearing badges are facing each other within a 30°-cone and one meter distance.

Larry Irons has an interesting discussion of this work in his post Gossip, Collaboration and Performance in Distributed Teams.

There are some very important privacy issues in using these badges. Benjamin and Sandy discuss them in detail in Reality Mining. I would be very happy to wear such a badge as art of my daily working environment. I am keen to discover how working together in real spaces might add to working together in virtual spaces.

There will be some interesting opportunities for me to explore collective intelligence in 2011. At the University of Canberra I will be able to work in a number of shared spaces and explore the emergence of pedagogy and practice. In cyberspace I hope to participate in a number of massive open online courses (MOOC) including Learning Analytics and Knowledge, and Connectivism and Connective Knowledge 2011,

Some colleagues from an earlier MOOC (CCK08) have provided some fascinating insights into MOOC behaviour. Recently Lisa Lane discussed a spectrum of MOOC design. Jenny Mackness has been exploring connectivism and lurking. Carmen Tschofen has been helping me understand situated learning and ‘legitimate peripheral participation’ (and led me to this infed blog post about communities of practice).

My participation in Commons spaces will be guided as it has been for the last three years by Stephen Downes and George Siemens. They act as wonderful compasses for me. Dave Cormier has some advice too in his YouTube MOOC video:

What an exciting year ahead!