Clyde Street

Learning, Teaching, Performing

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I happened upon three discussions of environments yesterday.

The first came via Stephen Downes with a link to to a post about the Telefonplan School in Sweden. The school was designed by RosanBosch.

Other designs include the Efterskole, Brotorp and Sodermalm. These are some of the links to the coverage of these designs.

Shortly after reading about school design I was on my way to Canberra listening to Radio National. Michael Dunlop was Cameron Wilson’s guest on Bush Telegraph. The trail for the conversation was:

A new CSIRO study shows that ecosystems we grew up with will be changed so much as a result of climate change that they will look, sound and smell completely different in years to come. The study is the first Australia-wide assessment of the magnitude of the ecological impact that climate change could have on biodiversity. It says the scale of the problem could have major implications for conservation policy and the management of Australia’s system of national parks and reserves. The report predicts that by 2070 most places in Australia will have environments that are more ecologically different from current conditions than they are similar.

Shortly after interviewing Michael, Cameron spoke with Danica Leys. She is a co-founder of the social media platform AgChatOz, a community forum for rural Australians to connect and discuss issues affecting their lives. AgChatOz hosts a weekly discussion on Twitter on Tuesday nights from 8-10pm.  This week there was a live event in Canberra.

There is more information about AgChatOz at their web site. I liked the rationale for social media use:

The great thing about #AgChatOZ is that allows farmers to tell their side of any story. It is breaking down barriers of rural isolation and allowing for consumers to engage with farmers and understand the inner workings of a farm and rural environment.

With more than 50% of the world’s population under 30 years old, more than 80% of online Australians familiar with Twitter, and Facebook reaching nearly 1 billion users, it is no surprise that social media is one of the most powerful communication tools of the 21st century.

Social media has allowed users of the AgChatOZ platform to have a global reach with relative ease. Our discussions have trended globally on Twitter more than twice, which has been one element of measuring our success. The calibre of groups and individuals participating and continue to engage also prove we are reaching the right audience, not purely “preaching to the converted”. We often engage with; Ministers, peak farm lobby groups, environmental groups, farmers and city consumers to name a few.

Social media can empower and connect country people, it can assist in bridging the gap between “country and city” and it allows for the paddock to plate story to be told. It is vital and crucial in building relationships and forming a better understanding of the diversity of rural people, their lives and industry.

Most importantly, it is crucial to remember that social media is simply a tool in the process of communication. Social media is not a “silver bullet” to the issues the industry faces and will continue to face, but it does provide a free, powerful and limitless platform to be heard.

My environment day ended with showing a friend the INSPIRE Centre on the University of Canberra campus. It has been built with sustainable principles and supports approaches to learning evident in Swedish plans and #tag conversations.


Photo Credits

Telefonplan School



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The Future of Australian Sport

I was interviewed today by Lisa-Cathrine Wilhelmseder as part of an Australian Sports Commission research project being conducted in partnership with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) into ‘The Future of Australian Sport’.

It is “the first research study of its kind to be conducted within the field of Australian sport, the study will examine a range of social, economic, political, environmental and technology insights, to predict trends that may impact the future of Australian sport.”

For those who would like to have a say on ‘The Future of Australian Sport’ and contribute their views to the study, either:

  • Visit the online forum to share your views on future trends that may impact Australian sport. (To access this forum, please email CSIRO at
  • Fill in an electronic form to share your views on future trends. To request this form, please email

The ASC and CSIRO have identified industry experts both within and outside the sport sector to seek their knowledge and expertise on future trends. This involves: interviews with a cross-section of industry experts to seek their in-depth insights; workshops with a targeted selection of key experts to obtain their high-level insights on the most significant trends.

The project research team can be contacted at

I enjoyed my conversation with Lisa-Catherine. My interview was recorded with my consent and Lisa-Catherine’s semi-structured interview made chatting very easy.

I see two approaches in this project: looking forward to 2040 and looking back from 2040 to the present. I suggested that one trend to discuss is declinism and the other is to look at the social capital value of play, games and sport as intrinsically worthwhile.

My hope is that there can be an organic approach to sport that links families, schools, and communities. I do think we will have major demographic issues to address in 2040 combined with catastrophic climate events and trends.

For example:

The Australian Bureau of Statistics suggests that of all the changes that are projected to occur in Australia’s population, “ageing is the most dramatic, resulting in major changes to the age structure of the population. The projections show that the ageing of Australia’s population, which is already evident, will continue. This is the inevitable result of fertility remaining at low levels over a long period associated with increasing life expectancy. As growth slows, the population ages progressively with the median age of 35 years in 1999 increasing to 40-42 years in 2021 and 44-47 years in 2051.” “The age composition of Australia’s population is projected to change considerably as a result of population ageing. By 2056 there will be a greater proportion of people aged 65 years and over than at 30 June 2007, and a lower proportion of people aged under 15 years. In 2007 people aged 65 years and over made up 13% of Australia’s population. This proportion is projected to increase to between 23% and 25% in 2056.”

CSIRO pointed out in 2008 that:

“Australian average annual mean temperatures have increased by 0.9°C since 1910 (Figure 2a). Most of this warming has occurred since 1950, with the greatest warming in central and eastern parts and the least warming in the far northwest. The warmest year for Australia since 1910 was 2005, while 2007 was the warmest year for much of southern Australia. The number of hot days and nights has increased and the number of cold days and nights has declined.”

Four years earlier CSIRO noted that:

“The combined impact of rising sea levels and extreme weather events are likely to result in increasing occurrence and severity of high rainfall and flood events in some parts of the country. Research shows that with a 20cm sea level rise, damage costs associated with flooding would increase by up to 50%. Despite forecasts for decreased rainfall in many areas of Australia, research by CSIRO predicts that by 2040, climate patterns for the eastern coast of Australia are likely to bring about more intense and more frequent extreme rainfall events. The most vulnerable regions for extreme rainfall include Coffs Harbour, Coolangatta, north of Brisbane, and over mountainous terrain.”

At present “eighty percent of Australians live within 80 miles of the sea; 50 percent of the country’s houses sit less than 8 miles from a beach.”

My hope is that this research project can persuade all political parties to have an agreed approach that would allow a thirty year window of policy opportunity rather than a three-year turn around of priorities.

We might even come up with a Finland solution that does for sport what long-term planning has done for Finnish education.

Photo Credit

Challenge and Support slide. (Andreas Schleicher (Head of the Indicators and Analysis Division of OECD’s Directorate for Education) visited Australia in May 2010. His presentation Seeing Your Education System in the Mirror of Other OECD Systems, can be found on SlideShare.)


#HPRW10: Megatrends and Megashocks

Stefan Hajkowicz presented the final keynote of the High Performance Research Workshop at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra. Stefan is a principal research scientist who leads CSIRO’s Sustainable Regional Development (SRD) research theme.

Stefan’s talk looked at Megatrends and Megashocks. CSIRO published Our Future World: an analysis of global trends, shocks and scenarios in April 2010. The report noted that a megatrend “is a collection of trends, patterns of economic, social or environmental activity that will change the way people live and the science and technology products they demand.”

The report identifies five interrelated megatrends:

  • More from less. This relates to the world’s depleting natural resources and increasing demand for those resources through economic and population growth. Coming decades will see a focus on resource use efficiency.
  • A personal touch. Growth of the services sector of western economies is being followed by a second wave of innovation aimed at tailoring and targeting services.
  • Divergent demographics. The populations of OECD countries are ageing and experiencing lifestyle and diet related health problems. At the same time there are high fertility rates and problems of not enough food for millions in poor countries.
  • On the move. People are changing jobs and careers more often, moving house more often, commuting further to work and travelling around the world more often.
  • i World. Everything in the natural world will have a digital counterpart. Computing power and memory storage are improving rapidly. Many more devices are getting connected to the internet.

A ‘megashock’ is “a significant and sudden event; the timing and magnitude of which are very hard to predict. “The report identified eight megashocks relevant to Australia:

  • Asset price collapse
  • Slowing Chinese economy
  • Oil and gas price spikes
  • Extreme climate change related weather
  • Pandemic
  • Biodiversity loss
  • Terrorism
  • Nanotechnology risks

Stephen points out that “Our megashocks are based on 36 global risks identified by the World Economic Forum in 2009, from which we have identified eight risks particularly important from an Australian science and technology perspective. These include oil and gas price spikes, pandemic influenza, biodiversity loss and extreme weather events related to climate change.”

I reference the report here and acknowledge CSIRO’s request that “if you would like to use the information in any presentations please reference the material appropriately and consistently as determined by a Creative Commons licence“.

Photo Credits

Surf Life Saving


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#HPRW10: How do we make the research effort into high performance sport more effective?

Day 3 started with a Panel presentation on the question of How do we make the research effort into high performance sport more effective?

The Panel members were: Allan Hahn, Kristine Toohey, Martin Fitzsimons, Michael McKenna, Gavin Reynolds and myself.

Allan Hahn opened the discussion of his approach to the topic:

  • Identify right problems
  • Ensure critical mass of resources
  • Acceess to expertise
  • Short, medium, long term
  • Accommodate different agendas
  • Integrate efforts of geographically distributed groups.

Allan explored a Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) model for building an effective research network. He noted the key features of a CRC model. Allan wondered if AIS Performance Research Centre embodies a CRC-like organisation. To date:

  • The Performance Research Centre at AIS has been restructured
  • A new research funding model has been introduced
  • Working to identify the right problems
  • Seeking to obtaining access to world-leading expertise to build a critical mass of resources
  • Developed a vibrant education program (nineteen universities involved)
  • Pathways to commercialisation explored

Allan noted that the Performance Research Centre has many of the characteristics of a CRC. The main constraint is that there is no long-term commitment to funding for research. Allan noted that a greater involvement with State Institutes and Academies is required. He added too that there is no centralised governance structure to integrate fully the various activities. At present the Performance Research Centre is acting as a hub for the spokes of research (with the exception of a more direct, funded CSIRO relationship).

Allan identified disadvantages and advantages faced by the Performance Research Centre:

  • There is limited interaction between partnerships
  • The activities of the Centre is labour intensive
  • The work is financially demanding

However, the advantages include:

  • Close links and partnership
  • Direct say in how inputs are used
  • Simplified agreements
  • High flexibility
  • Capaitalising on other research activities

These need collaborative skills. Partners have organisational priorities.

Allan identified the major gaps in the work of the Performance Research Centre:

  • There is no national endorsement of the Performance Research Centre
  • Labour-intensive work (liaison with partners, communication, formal agreements)
  • Funding constraints (the Performance Research Centre is linked to AIS funds at moment)
  • Sustainability (many of the Performance Research Centre partnerships are short-term)

Allan concluded his presentation with a discussion of the framework to capitalise on activities to date.

I presented the Connected ideas I have contained in posts on this blog.

Kristine Toohey presented some information about the Australian Sport Research Network (ASRN). The ASRN aims to achieve research as a group that we may not be able achieve as individual institutions. Kristine gave some historical background to AIS/ASRN links. The ASRN has been working for three years and acknowledges that universities need to do industry-focused research. Kristine reported that the ASRN is working on a constitution. There are five aims at the moment: establishing strategic alliances; developing sport research; delivering evidence-based research; informing policy and investment; contributing to education and career pathways.

ASRN outputs include an ARC linkage grant for Talent Identification and Development in sport and a bid in progress for a CRC (with the Australian Sports Commission).

Martin Fitzsimons presented a sport institute perspective.  Martin noted that this was a personal account. He identified four themes about our national research system:

  • There is no clear objective for collaborative research
  • There is limited funding for research
  • Collaboration
  • Sharing knowledge and resources

Martin suggested an independent body should oversee high performance research in Australia. This entity would: understand the resources available; act as a repository for outcomes and assist with research planning; assess research applications, monitor progress; disseminate research findings; and making the outcomes available to all participants in the system.

Michael McKenna shared news of the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL) at Victory University: the aim is to be a global leader in sport, exercise and active living. World-class infrastructure is being developed using a whole of University approach.Michael identified three research areas: sport, exercise and active living. He outlined these activities and key directions for multidisciplinary perspectives. Michael noted the development of work in Active Living. The Footscray Campus will be completed in September 2010 (a $70 million facility). Overall the aim is to develop laboratories for five discipline areas:

  • Exercise physiology
  • Biomechanics
  • Biochemistry and molecular biology
  • Sport technology and engineering
  • Motor control

Michael noted the importance of mobile technologies and their use off-campus with Melbourne sport groups (a $100 million infrastructure including Whitten Oval and local hospital training and education facilities). Michael outlined the staffing for ISEAL and noted Damian Farrow’s joint appointment with the AIS. Michael outlined ISEAL’s investment in elite sport. ISEAL is developing national and international partnerships to progress its work.

Michael concluded his presentation with a consideration of links between ISEAL and the State Institutes and Academies’ network. He outlined possible research areas, identified personnel and expertise, and the availability of facilities on a Melbourne campus. Michael noted how complementary ISEAL can be to other work within the sport system.

Gavin Reynolds presented the final part of the Panel session. He discussed the role of the National Sport Information Centre (NSIC) in the national system. He outlined the networks that NSIC link to including IASI, AUSPIN, ASRN and new emerging (often ephemeral) networks. Gavin identified four areas as a focus for his presentation about the work of the NSIC:

  • Access
  • Analysis
  • Advice
  • Affiliation

Gavin presented an enterprise, integrated knowledge sharing business model for Australian sport. He concluded how NSIC can address needs, link to audiences (communities), optimise output and think as an Australian sport research enterprise.

Photo Credits

Bird Houses

The FlickrVerse

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#HPRW10: Peter Kean and the benefits of technology roadmaps

Tim Kelly (AIS Performance Research Centre) introduced Peter Kean.

Peter’s talk outlined and discussed the process of technology roadmapping (TRM) as a tool for collaborative planning that might be of interest to high performance sport.

Peter suggested that a TRM is a document that:

  • Summarises a need.
  • Records information available about the identified need that has arisen from some key tends and drivers.
  • Identifies technologies
  • Provides some information for cost/benefit/time trade off discussions

Peter noted that TRMs can be developed for a ten-year time scale but acknowledged that high performance sport might have different rhythms:  2012, 2014 and 2016 as increments within a six-year plan. Sport plans could be front end loaded for 2012 whilst exploring other opportunities in the medium and longer-term.

Peter used an example of a TRM from a CSIRO and automotive industries group to share a visualisation of a TRM. (Note: Stamm, A., Thiel, D.V., Burkett, B., James, D.A., Roadmapping Performance Enhancement Measures and Technology in Swimming, The Impact of Technology on Sport III, F. Fuss, A. Subic, S. Ujihashi ed., Taylor and Francis, 2009 (in press)) For another example see Nu Angle’s Roadmapping publication.

Peter suggested that the benefits of a TRM include:

  • Identification of critical needs
  • Goals are made into steps
  • Key drivers and enablers identified
  • Resources and capabilities available noted
  • Strategy for delivery articulated
  • Outlines opportunities for competitive advantage

Peter considered next how to create a TRM. His steps include:

  • Define the scope of the boundaries
  • List drivers and needs
  • List delivery capabilities
  • Identify technology drivers and gaps
  • Identify and rank opportunities
  • Report back

He indicated that Day 2 of #HPRW10 would use this approach and brainstorm issues around twelve sports. The workshops would articulate:

  • Trends and drivers
  • Innovation needs
  • Capabilities in the national system

There are three steps to this workshop process.

Step 1: Identify Needs

  • What is the most important technology?
  • What are the bottlenecks?
  • What research is required to enable delivery?

A brainstorm matrix for this step will address: need, timeframe, obstacles, requirement and target, organisations.

Step 2: Delivery Capability

A brainstorm matrix for this step will address: requirement and target, technology/capability, target user, key sectors, technology drivers, organisation type.

Step 3: Meeting Need

A brainstorm matrix for this step will address: technology driver, potential, organisation, technology readiness level.

Peter concluded his talk with a discussion of the opportunities provided by a TRM process: strengths, what is missing? competitors’ response? He reemphasised that a TRM approach is a process. At #HPRW10 it is intended to summarise workshop discussions of roadmaps and distribute these in order to pursue opportunities systematically.

Photo Credits

Map Reading by Headlight

Captain Cook, Hyde Park

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#HPRW10 Day 2: Mapping

Day Two at #HPRW10 has roadmapping as its theme (program Day 2).

The day starts with a keynote address by Peter Kean (CSIRO) The Value of Creating Technology and Research Roadmaps. There follows (at 9.30am) a discussion of performance challenges and the key determinants of success in Olympic and Paralympic sports. Fours sports will explore their challenges: rowing, track and field, triathlon and Winter sport. After the morning break these sports will discuss:

  • Trends and drivers for the future innovation needs of the sport
  • Innovation needs
  • Capabilities of the national system

After lunch (2pm) four more sports will address their roadmap issues: swimming, water polo, sailing and canoe/kayak. The day will conclude (3.30pm) with a final group of four sports: cycling, tennis, hockey and diving.

Photo Credits

Dawn Mist

Diving In


#HPRW10: Introduction

Peter Fricker welcomed workshop delegates on the day after the Federal Budget (see this item too). In his introduction, Peter discussed the outcomes of the internal review at the Australian Institute of Sport and the aim to deliver sustained success in international sport performance. Research and development will play a key role in the AIS’s mission. The strategic plan for research at the AIS involves:

  • A focus on practical outcomes for coaches and athletes
  • Awareness and knowledge of global practice
  • Coordinated approaches and collaborative endeavours
  • Demonstrable improvements in performance
  • Communication of research findings and facilitation of better practice

Peter noted that the workshop aims to bring researchers together to support athletes. During the three days there will be discussion of thirty research projects and sport programs will have an opportunity to share their views on London and beyond. The overall aim of the workshop is to drive and shape thinking about sport specific development maps.

Peter identified the diversity of countries winning medals in Beijing 2008 and commented on the challenge for each medal at the Olympic Games. He observed too that competitor countries are looking at partnerships to build capacity and capability to be competitive and noted UK Sport’s research program. He pointed to exemplar programs in Germany, France, Japan and Korea as examples of this trend.

Peter acknowledged the Australian Government’s commitment to the role research will play in sporting excellence. Peter noted too the AIS’s partnerships with Universities. The AOC and APC acknowledge these relationships in their High Performance Plan.

Peter acknowledges the AIS partnership with CSIRO that emerged from a 2006 workshop. He pointed out that the partnership had an impact at Beijing. He added that there was a need build on the momentum this partnership had created.

Peter concluded his address with a thanks to the workshop attendees and a welcome to the AIS Bruce Campus.

Tim Kelly (AIS Performance Research Centre) introduced Steve Morton (CSIRO). Steve provided some background to the CSIRO/AIS partnership.

Steve discussed CSIRO’s commitment to science and technology and talked specifically about the Advance Human Performance program. Two key areas:

  • Smart equipment
  • Personal performance technologies

To date eight business units across CSIRO are collaborating on a range of projects with the AIS, including:

  • modelling of elite swimmers to develop ideal stroke technique
  • thermoelectrically active fabrics that heat or cool athlete’s bodies for preparation, recovery and rehabilitation
  • towards faster smarter oar shafts that are lighter and more aerodynamic
  • scoring system for amateur boxing
  • wearable body mapping garments for assessing and improving sports performance
  • weather forecasting for sporting events
  • non-invasive monitoring of athlete’s metabolic status from expired air for monitoring of athlete’s physiological status
  • the Beijing Bike project, reducing cycling component friction via new coating technologies
  • quantification of nutritional intake for high-performance sports nutrition
  • wind protection for sporting venues, using textile structures for wind protection of rowing courses
  • modelling kayak blades for optimizing paddling performance
  • fibre optic anemometer for use on small yachts
  • RF tracking of athletes for real-time positioning system to track athletes.

Steve noted that CSIRO were delighted that the AIS thought there had been a positive impact on performance in Beijing and he looked forward to supporting the AIS and Australian athletes in London 2012. He added that CSIRO can help researchers in sport with connections to the private sector.

The Advisory Committee for the Partnership is holding its first meeting at this workshop. The Committee comprises: Greg Nance, Callum Drummond, Alison Campbell, Craig Phillips, Steve Morton, Peter Fricker and Perry Crossthwaite.

Tim Kelly then introduced Craig Phillips, Secretary General of the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) to present the AOC/Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) High Performance Plan (HPP) with a specific focus on research.

Craig recapped a timeline for the development of the AOC/APC HPP that started on 3 August 2008. A consultation process with national sporting organisations (and others) continued through to January 2009. The HPP aims to identify achievable results and the costs associated with them. A Forum in Sydney in February 2009 shared these consultations. Recommendations from the Forum were included in the HPP. The Plan submitted to the Minister of Sport, the Prime Minister and the Independent Sport Panel in March 2009. Craig made the strong point that the Plan was a bid for funds on behalf of NSOs and not for the AOC.

The Plan makes recommendations in nine key areas. Innovation and competitive advantage is Section 7.8 of the Plan (p.48ff). At the Sydney Forum stakeholders noted:

  • The absence of substantive programs and the lack of national direction in innovation and research.
  • The limited amount of funds available for research and development.
  • One-line appropriation (post Sydney 2000) appears to discourage the allocation of funds for research and development (focus on short-term goals; dilemma of groups owning research outcomes; unclear leadership; best athletes need access to research within the network; IP needs to be better utilised.)
  • Current practice contrasts sharply with that before 2000.

The HPP was informed by benchmark comparisons. Craig pointed to the example of UK Sport’s Ideas4Innovation.

Recommendation 23 in the HPP requests the implementation of a cross-sport strategy for applied research.  It was proposed that: the AIS coordinate a task force for this purpose; that a specific budget be allocated that would be used to support clearly articulated research projects tied to finite outcomes; and that there should be a ‘risk fund’ for special initiatives. Need long-term planning with finite outcomes. Noted risk fund (venture capital). Recommendation 24 requests the application of information and communication technology and analysis that would make information about performance available and retrievable. This would include the monitoring of global practice.

Craig concluded his talk with an emphasis on the partnership between AOC and APC in the HPP.

Photo Credits

Synthetic Rugby