Describing what we do

In conversations about people involved in data analysis, one of my colleagues in an institute of sport observed that “the biggest challenge is how we develop and mentor these people”.

I see this as a critical issue as sport expands its data science portfolios. It has encouraged me to think about the verbs we use to describe our work in data.

When I first started in performance analysis in pre-digital days, we aspired to:

  • Observe
  • Record
  • Analyse
  • Model

Guillermo Martinez Arastey (2018), amongst others, has described how this role has changed in a digital era (link). It has meant for me that performance analysts are connected and I saw this at first hand when I met Darrell and Adam in Cardiff (link).

Darrell’s Vocational Performance Analysis post and Adam’s What has changed in Performance Analysis over the last 5 years? exemplified their reflection in and on action that define connected, sensitive educators.

I was thinking about these connections and changes when I came across IBM’s AI Ladder (link). This ladder used a fourfold taxonomy of verbs:

  • Collect accessible data
  • Organise a business-ready foundation
  • Analyse with trust and transparency at scale
  • Infuse throughout the business

I would add to this feedforward (link). With artificial intelligence I think it is vital to consider where we will be and involves us in mental time travel.

In a 2012 paper, Peter Dowrick observes:

The most rapid learning by humans can be achieved by mental simulations of future events, based on reconfigured preexisting component skills. These reconsiderations of learning from the future, emphasizing learning from oneself, have coincided with developments in neurocognitive theories of mirror neurons and mental time travel.

It is these “mental simulations of future events” that strike me as very important as we consider the verbs that guide us through a dynamic domain opening up before us.

Photo Credit

Markus Spiske on Unsplash

#UCSIA15 Connections, Nodes and Wormholes


Last week, Stephen Downes wrote about Becoming MOOC.

The concluding paragraph of his post is:

Learning in a MOOC and literacy in a MOOC become synonymous. We are not acquiring content or using language and literacy, we are becoming literate, becoming MOOC. Each bit of experience, each frustrated facing of a new chaos, changes you, shapes you. Participating in a MOOC is like walking through a forest, trying to see where animals have walked in the past, trying to determine whether that flash of orange is a tiger. There are no easy successes, and often no sense of flow. But you feel the flush of success every time you recognize a form you defined, achieve a skill you needed, and gradually gradually you become a skilled inhabitant of the forest, or of 21st century human society.

I thought this was an excellent statement of #UCSIA15 ambitions.

I read Stephen’s post after reading Chris Daly’s tribute to David Carr’s teaching. Chris wrote:

When David died, he was the holder of an endowed chair in the Journalism Department at Boston University. There he was, inventing himself all over again. Far from the places in Washington and New York where he had made his bones, David was putting himself on the line to try something new.

And he was not just dabbling. He took it seriously, and from what he revealed, he was dead-serious about teaching. He saw teaching as another way to do most of the things he cared about — writing, thinking, criticizing, and nurturing this thing that we all care about so much.

Chris and David’s students share how David adapted to his teaching role. I thought his wisdom and approach to pedagogy shone through his Press Play course.

 David wrote of Press Play:

This course, Press Play, aspires to be a place where you make things. Good things. Smart things. Cool things. And then share those things with other people. The idea of Press Play is that after we make things we are happy with, that we push a button and unleash it on the world. Much of it will be text, but if you want to make magic with a camera, your phone, or with a digital recorder, knock yourself out. But it will all be displayed and edited on Medium because there will be a strong emphasis on working with others in this course, and Medium is collaborative.

With just a few more sleeps to the start of #UCSIA15, David, Chris and Stephen have helped me clarify not only the aims of the course but also helped confirm some of the opportunities for #UCSIA15:


Modesty and Humility

We recognise that there is so much expertise and experience available in sport informatics and analytics. Our course is a very small contribution to remarkable communities of practice. We understand that we are offering a local perspective and hope that we can contribute to a global discussion of such a dynamic field of study and practice. We see the course as a wonderful opportunity for our own learning about open sharing.


We believe the way to develop knowledge of sport informatics and analytics is to connect with others. We have described this course as a connectivist course. Stephen Downes (2007) points out that:

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.

We hope that our course will make connecting and sharing possible. We think this can happen within the course and in existing self-organising networks.


Rita Kop and Adrian Hill (2008) observe:

In the connectivist model, a learning community is described as a node, which is always part of a larger network.  Nodes arise out of the connection points that are found on a network.  A network is comprised of two or more nodes linked in order to share resources.  Nodes may be of varying size and strength, depending on the concentration of information and the number of individuals who are navigating through a particular node

We hope that our choice of four themes for #UCSIA15 and mapped with Mindmeister mindmaps indicate the potential for node development in sport informatics and analytics.

We think there are enormous opportunities to share the practice of these nodes and to alert others to their interests and passions.



#UCSIA15 has been planned as an asynchronous, non-linear course. We are hoping that participants’ interests will take them where they wish within and beyond the course.

We anticipate that some participants may have a single interest that they wish to pursue.

We trust that some of the content might lead to different spacetime. Wikipedia notes that a wormhole “is much like a tunnel with two ends, each in separate points in spacetime”.

Whilst this might seem an ambitious aspiration one of our topics is feedforward. Recent research in that field has discussed the possibilities of mental time travel.

In a 2012 paper, Peter Dowrick suggests:

The most rapid learning by humans can be achieved by mental simulations of future events, based on reconfigured preexisting component skills. These reconsiderations of learning from the future, emphasizing learning from oneself, have coincided with developments in neurocognitive theories of mirror neurons and mental time travel.

Photo Credits

Crowd in Railway Station (Matthias Ripp, CC BY 2.0)

Tilt shift grid (Mike Edwards, CC BY 2.0)

Soldier Field Tilt Shift (Michael Baird, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Bandwith Approach to Supporting Learning

Yesterday’s talk by Royce Sadler at the University of Canberra has sent me off on a journey thinking about how learners flourish.

I liked Royce’s reference to texts from the last forty years. The trail for Royce’s talk had started me reflecting on Peter Dowrick’s work on feedforward and Ian Franks and Gary Miller’s (1991) paper Training Coaches to Observe and Remember.

After Royce’s talk I revisited a paper by Kristine Chambers and Joan Vickers (2006) on the Effects of Bandwidth Feedback and Questioning on the Performance of Competitive Swimmers.

The paper reported:

  • A coaching intervention involving Bandwidth Feedback and Questioning (BF-Q) on competitive swim times (cTIME), practice swim times (pTIME), and technique (TECH)
  • With a cohort of competitive youth swimmers over one short-course (25m) swim season.
  • Kristine and Joan concluded that coaching in which feedback was delayed and replaced with questions directed to the athletes contributed to improved technique and subsequent faster race times.
  • Compared to the Control group, the BF-Q group displayed greater gains in TECH during the intervention period and greater improvement in cTIME during the transfer period.

Kristine and Joan discussed two powerful issues arising from their research:

  1. It demonstrates that swimmers were aware of their ability to affect gains in personal athletic development. These results emphasize the importance of self-regulation, personal control, and active learning to efficient and heightened skill acquisition.
  2. Although swimmers described increases in mental work encouraged by their coach, the improvement in communication seemed to override any negative effects of the cognitive load. Improving coach-athlete interaction was one goal of combining questioning with bandwidth feedback. The present study supported the combined use of questioning and bandwidth feedback to enhance learning and maintain effective coach-athlete relationships.

I think this paper is an interesting empirical support for some of the points Royce made in his talk. In arguing for this resonance I am aware that I am attracted to bandwidth ideas.

Some time ago (twenty years in fact) Richard Schmidt discussed the impact frequent augmented feedback can have on learning. I liked his distinction between the performance impact of feedback and longer term learning.

Royce’s presentation, revisiting Kristine and Joan’s paper and returning to Richard’s arguments have encouraged me to work through Franz Marschall, Andreas Bund and Josef Wiemeyer’s (2007) meta-analysis of augmented feedback in the e-Journal Bewegung and Training 1. Their analysis reviews 40 papers published from 1989 to 2000.

Photo Credits

Coaches watching the fight

Coach with the wrestler’s hat