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Coaching others to coach
Coaching others to coach

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1 Collaboration, information gathering and learning

The use of social media and digital devices arguably changes how coaching knowledge is created and shared.

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Figure 2 If the digital age impacts athletes and coaching, what are the implications for coach learning and development?

An example of how coaching is changing comes from Steven Trigg (Head Performance Swimming Coach, University of Stirling). He suggests: ‘The role of the coach is changing, it’s not to be the holder of information but to encourage them [athletes] to go and get it’ (English Institute of Sport, 2018). He describes how technology is enhancing learning with an example of race footage being sent to smart phones within 5 minutes of a race finishing; athletes then review the race and give coaches feedback on what they’ve felt and seen. They also make considerable use of WhatsApp.

If the role of the coach is changing due to technology what else can we learn from digital companies such as Netflix and Amazon?

Activity 1 Learner analytics: implications for coach learning and development

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

Each year the Institute of Educational Technology (IET) at the Open University reports on trends in learning. The reading below describes the emergence of learner analytics as a trend in 2018. Learner analytics is the collection of digital data which can be used to profile and understand individual learner preferences to subsequently identify learning opportunities that might help them.

Read the text below and think of coaches in your sport who may have different learning needs. Using the reading as a prompt consider what tool you might ask a software developer to produce for the purpose of collecting data to inform coach learning. The resulting solution would ideally recommend appropriate learning opportunities for each individual coach. Imagine what features and possibilities this might entail.

What ideas can learner-led analytics take from Netflix or Amazon?

Learner-led analytics is the use of data to help learners learn. The trend for learner-led analytics signifies a shift away from just assessing what learners have learnt to focusing more on helping them to identify their own goals and ambitions and supporting them through their learning.

A practitioner’s view comes from Nigel Paine, change-focused leader and learning expert: analytics will change learning.... ‘We are in a data driven revolution. If you have the data and bring it together, you have a massively important picture of the learner…. It’s about individualising the whole learning process … the ultimate aim is to get learners to take charge of their own learning better – to facilitate that and enable them.

It’s like Netflix – as I log onto the interface, what it gives me is totally unique. It’s the same with learning – the personalisation of learning through algorithms. For an individual it means: what works for me and my needs and for my [role]. He suggests an example of being nudged or recommended – do you want to watch this Ted talk? Read this new blog? It’s not very complicated and Amazon have been doing it for years.’

We are still at the early stages of learning analytics which use learners’ preferences, ambition and past learning to recommend learning that is more personalised. That’s the way that learning is going – targeted, personalised learning that meets the needs of learners and the organisation they work for.

(IET, 2018, pp. 12–13)
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The possibilities are endless but there are perhaps two components to consider in any software application or online tool that might be developed from learner analytics. First, in order for learning recommendations to be made data would need to be collected. This might mean coaches completing a questionnaire from which a profile of their preferences can be constructed. Alternatively, and as with Amazon and Netflix, the online search activity of coaches might be captured and used to identify patterns in their choices and behaviours. In both cases algorithms can be developed to make subsequent recommendations.

A second aspect is the learning opportunities it might refer individuals to. In addition to video and blogs a ‘recommendations for you’ list could also include research articles, webinars, interviews with other coaches, podcasts and national governing body resources, including courses.

In both instances the ability to collect data, analyse this data and produce individual recommendations is a powerful tool that is only beginning to influence learning and development.

The Institute of Educational Technology (IET) 2018 report on trends in learning is available free from The Open University website [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

Perhaps when it comes to assembling appropriate learning opportunities there is also a role for coach developers in sifting through, recommending, curating and pointing to the most useful online content. Perhaps a combination of learner analytics and the human influence of a coach developer is an interesting way forward?

You have begun to see how digital technology might offer some opportunities to enhance coach learning and development. Your focus in the next series of activities is how the digital age influences sharing, collaboration and building new knowledge. You will explore a range of digitally related coach learning and development possibilities including:

  • digital messaging
  • curating online content
  • remote mentoring
  • peer-to-peer support through an internet-based application.