Saturday, February 6, 2016

Education Deserts and "Netflixing" Higher Education

Three great stories from this week reflecting the many challenges and changes to higher education.

What is an "education desert." Inside Higher Ed's Ellen Wexler reports on research by University of Wisconsin Madison Assistant Professor, Nick Hillman about the challenges many students face.

Ellen Wexler's article, "Geography Matters" in Inside Higher Ed

Thanks to Vickie Cook for this article from the Hechinger Report:

Thanks to work place education leader Jane Hart for the link to the Washington Post article from reporter Matt McFarland.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Trust, Teamwork and Collaboration - Real but difficult for big data to define

March began with the MIT Sloan sports conference in Boston. The era of sports analytics continues to explode as leagues and teams deploy technology in places never before seen. Schutt football helmets now have cameras built into the helmet. The NBA now tracks player movement , taking speed and location measurements that were never practical in past eras.

Bruce Temkin, writing in his Customer Experience Matters blog, had some very interesting takeaways from attending the MIT Sloan conference. Among the most notable of Bruce's highlight list was #17 - "Team chemistry remains a mystery." As a coach and educator, I am both fascinated and not surprised by this thinking. I have been blessed to play and coach on good and bad teams and, of course, know team chemistry is real. What has to drive the measurement gurus crazy is the alchemy of great teams and work groups - collections of people who's individual talents don't add up to the great results they produce. 

The tendency in today's measure and rate all things era is to conclude that the biggest, fastest, most accurate individuals will form the best sports team. Likewise, off the courts and fields, if measurements are valid, people with the highest test scores and specialized knowledge should be able to gather and solve all challenges. However, great performances and discoveries often come from great collaboration and trust amongst groups of people who above all, work well together.

Fastcompany has several articles this week that offer glimpses of these work environments. Author Linda Dishman explores the role of collaboration and incremental innovation in the article What Stanford's Startup Garage Teaches Us About Invention and Innovation . Former Pixar and Disney Animation executive Ed Catmull offers instructive thoughts about the role of trust and building on success and failure in an article titled Pixar's Ed Catmull on How Disney Found its Way to a Hit with Frozen . Catmull discusses how success is dependent on a culture of honest feedback and helping each other work through problems. How do we deal with mistakes and failure as individuals and organizations?

In this measurement and "we must hold people accountable" world, why does accountability = firing and running off the knowledge and wisdom gained during a try that didn't work as planned. I find it interesting that creative organizations thrive on having teams generate rapid prototypes and also expect they will have to be revised many, many times.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Grantland Article: The Year of Un-Innocence's Brian Phillips touches on some powerful topics in his December 19, 2013 article "The Year of Un-Innocence" . Phillips writes of our romantic view of sports - games played safely, fairly and with sportsmanship. He notes that in 2013, time after time, this notion was dashed with performance enhancing drug scandal (baseball) or news of long-term health concerns (football and concussions) and death (building soccer world cup venues in Qatar). Yet, despite these setbacks, Phillips (and us) continued to tune in and cheer.

Sports are lauded throughout the world as a catalyst for bringing us together; for developing athletes of high character who serve as role models for our communities, schools and even nations. For those of us who grew up in sports, we know numerous examples of the good in sports. However, the nature of news is that negative gets the headlines and, in 2013, the most tweets. It is up to us - coaches, athletes and parents - to participate in and promote the good of sports in day-to-day practices and contests. Will the bad things of our world invade sports? Of course. But it must be our calling to study the issues, argue gracefully and work for improvement of these games that are so important to our cultures.

December began with a vibrant example of sport and its ability to promote change with the passing of South African leader Nelson Mandela. Sports Illustrated's Jonathan Wilson reminded us of how Mandela knew of and used sport to bring his country together.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

As I lead our MAE Coaching course - HPR 510 Coaching Character, this post from Dr. Fredric Neuman about the importance of character is timely (thanks for the tweet by Dr. Bruce Johnson). The reflection also raises the important discussion of defining success in life. As Christians, what defines a successful life? How do we go about pursuing the answer to this ongoing question?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Coach Bum Phillips passes away at 90

Legendary football coach Bum Phillips passed away today at the age of 90.  Sports Illustrated writer Peter King shared a thought from Phillips typical of him - words that seem simple at first but over time are profound:
Bum was correct then and, perhaps, even more so now. In the era of saber-metrics and new levels of analysis, coaches can easily get caught up in valuing what they know more than what their athletes do.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Stanford University Head Football Coach David Shaw - Harbaugh he's not - ESPN

Last week (10/4/2013), ESPN Magazine's Molly Knight penned an interesting article on Standford University Head Football Coach David Shaw and his balanced, even keel approach to his career and guiding the Cardinal football program. In a world where coaches with a work-'til-you-drop, win-at-all-costs worldview seem the rule, it is refreshing to see that loyalty to the school and family still can succeed.

Shaw's story is also a great opposing example for athletic directors who think the only alternative in a coach search is hiring a "savior" coach from outside the institution who may know the sport but not necessarily understand the "warp and woof" of the school. Coach Shaw honed his coaching expertise at Stanford and in the NFL and, perhaps most from his father, long-time college and NFL coach, Willie Shaw.

The week the Kentucky High School Athletic Association banned handsakes and then didn't

Did you catch this news blurp this week - The Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) first issued a directive about post-game handshakes reported by some media outlets as recommending a ban to the long time post-game ritual. Not surprisingly, this caused a fury of reaction - mostly negative. I think the decision, in a healthy way, caused folks to step back and think about the purpose of sports and education.

No matter how hard fought the game, all parties (one article points out post-game conflict is not limited to football) have to take time to have perspective and model civil, respectful behavior in victory and defeat. 

To give up on that ideal is poor and strikes me as an administrative cop-out "I told them not to do it..." The issue also gives us (athletic administrators and coaches) an opportunity to reiterate what success in interscholastic athletics is and is not. 
So what is the definition of success in HS athletics? The answer is more difficult than it first appears when the question is asked. What role does winning and losing play? How about the importance of playing the game well? Development of the student-athlete? I think it is something we have to continually study and discuss and share with our community.