#OAPS101: Enhancing Performance


(Vocaroo Summary of this post)

I have really enjoyed Week 1 of the small open online course Observing and Analysing Performance in Sport.

There have been some fascinating exchanges particularly about Seeing and Observing and Decision Making.

The numbers of participants enrolled in the course has increased this week. Shortly before the course started we had 155 and now it is 374. This means it is still a small open online course. I have discussed the approach taken in the course in a number of Clyde Street posts and in this Day 1 post on OpenLearning.

I have been keen to offer Open Badges for the course.

Conversations in the first week have prompted me to think about:

  • Feedforward
  • Performances of Understanding
  • Personal Learning Environments


Will Oldham’s post Analysts as Educators acted as a catalyst for my thoughts. In a post that synthesises a variety of ideas, Will concludes that:

We must take be confident enough in our skills and abilities that we are able to provide assurance to those who require it that we can add value to established coaching setups and processes, that we’re not in the business of coaching revolutions, but simply the development of athletes and coaches.

I commented on his post and suggest that the value we add is as educational technologists. I should have added that wherever possible bring an interdisciplinary understanding to performance. I think this requires a sensitivity to a narrative of performance that is customised to athletes and coaches.

My three big issues for the first week:


What if performance analysts decide to share the world as it might be?

I think feedfoward gives us the opportunity to do this. In Peter Dowrick’s wordssubjects see themselves not so much as they were but as they might be“.

Performances of Understanding

Last year I wrote about Sam Stosur’s victory in the US Open Tennis. In that post I noted that “I am fascinated by the process by which athletes prepare to perform. I am fascinated too by the realisation of the readiness to perform in actual performance”. My ideas about performances of understanding help me think about this readiness.

A decade ago I followed a Harvard University course online, Teaching for Understanding Using New Technologies. In that course performances of understanding were important indicators. Such performances:

… require students to go beyond the information given to create something new by reshaping, expanding, extrapolating from, applying, and building on what they already know. The best performances of understanding help students both develop demonstrate their understanding.

Personal Learning Environments

I am hopeful that many of the participants in the Observing and Analysing Performance in Sport course will write about their experiences as performance analysts or their interests in performance analysis. There is so much experience to share.

I am keen to find out about personal learning environments. My participation in the CCK08 course opened my eyes to the benefits of sharing openly. I have written about personal learning environments since that course. I see personalisation as one of the ways to offer a service to athletes and coaches.

Into Week 2

I am looking forward to Week 2 of #OAPS101. I am hopeful that this post might stimulate discussion that goes beyond the content of the course and helps address some second order questions about performance analysis.

Photo Credit

I received the photograph in this blog post from a friend. I have been unable to find a source for it. I am keen to learn whether it is a Creative Commons Licensed image.

Forty Years On: Reflecting on Good Fortune

I saw of a copy of Alan Bennett‘s play Forty Years On (1968) in a second hand  bookshop this week.

By coincidence it is forty years ago this week that I went to the University of York to start my social sciences course. Ironically I should have been on my way to the University of Reading to study French and German!

Heslington Hall

Revision for my final year school exams in 1970 were distracted by the Football World Cup in Mexico. I am not sure whether it was the excitement generated by the World Cup or my lack of study skills that led to some final grades that prevented me from going to Reading. York kindly offered me a clearing house place.

Looking back I believe I was enormously fortunate to take up my place at York. My experiences there gave me a real desire to follow a polymath interest in society, culture and learning. Over the years I have maintained a fascination with language that may have been different had I studied it formally.

Later in my course at York I read Brian Jackson and Dennis Marsden’s (1962) Education and the Working Class. Recently I looked back at a 1986 edition of the book and appreciated the subliminal impact of their approach on my thinking.

I went to University as the son of a steelworker and postwoman. I had no idea what University education was and was ill equipped to study with peers who had come from completely different backgrounds. As a ‘new’ university York was a rick mixture of people like myself and many who had come from the private education.

I went to York two years after events of May in Paris,  a year after Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a few months after Brazil, with Pele in the team, defeated Italy to win the World Cup in the Aztec Stadium in Mexico City and shortly after Leonard Cohen’s appearance at the Isle of Wight Festival. It was a time when anything was possible.

York nurtured this sense of the possible and enabled me to pursue a path that Brian Jackson and Dennis Marsden championed. My first week there was spent in a pre-season training camp with the University’s rugby team. The group really welcomed me and may have been over-anticipating my ability. I had told them correctly that I was from Wales and played outside half. I think they were anticipating a Barry John!

Attendance at the training camp introduced me into the University and ever since I have been grateful that sport does offer distinct social inclusion possibilities. I could not have blogged about my experiences at the time. I would have needed thousands of these:

to program a third generation computer so that I might take advantage of “a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet Protocol Suite” in the early 1990s!

Forty years on it is wonderful to reflect on good fortune. I am more convinced than ever that personal learning environments must celebrate biography and work with our ‘taken-for-grantedness’.

Photo Credits

1970s photographs of the University of York taken from the Alumni site.