Posted on 26 March 2012 by Darrell Cobner

Through regular visits to the Clyde Street blog, Keith Lyons has recently led me to the work by Stephen Downes through this link. Downes has compiled and shared a large resource relating to connectivism… perhaps best summarised in this presentation. I am appreciative of his knowledge transfer through his site and assisting to connect some of the theoretical dots. It offered some clarity on the conceptual intentions of the Referee Communication Forum.

Importantly, the forum was created based on feedback from stakeholder needs, and the contacts within the rugby environment allowed a feasible pilot study. It was not an irrelevant, redundant exercise of collecting people. It was fundamentally a well-intentioned way to create a central meeting place to connect people on the basis that multiple diverse perspectives make a society stronger/healthier.

Traditionally, such a group formation would be viewed as an opportunity for collaboration (everybody working together in a coordinated fashion on an single objective); however, this is actually an opportunity for cooperation (people working independently on individual objectives, but in a shared environment or with shared resources). The connections lead to educational experience where learning consists of developing and traversing the smaller groups within the network to connect thinking between the fields; sharing ideas, concepts and outcomes. Essentially it is using collective wisdom and connective intelligence through open channels of communication to mature a body of knowledge, clarify understanding and assist group decision-making. The knowledge is the network; and the power is the language around the content.



Nilofer Merchant is an author of a book about collaborative innovation. Within this recent blog, she outlined movements from isolated organisations to communities, which can be transferred from business to sport. The social era will reward those organisations that understand they can create more value with ‘other’ communities than they can ‘within’ their own. Each of the different levels of ‘community’ (below) can be related to the ethos of bringing influences together in any given sport.


Communities of proximity, where participants share a geographic location,will allow people to organise work differently

Communities of passion, who share a common interest, can inform new product lines

Communities of purpose will willingly share a common task to build something

Communities of practice will extend your offer because it extends their expertise

Communities of providence that allow people to discover connections with others and thus enable the sharing of information, products and ideas.


A couple of the comments around the blog also highlight direction and barriers to participation:
thoodcpa: “we are quickly moving away from command and control to connect and collaborate”
Morbagshaw: “a resistance to adapt would be due to the fear of transparency”


In summary,

1. The emergence and application of the TPE scaffolded ‘space’ created:
• A bespoke, closed, web-based social network
• A scalable medium for communication around video
• An environment to enable private and open online discussions
• An atmosphere to communicate knowledge and contribute opinion
• 24/7 accessibility through computers and mobile devices
• Identification of topics of mutual interest and concern
• A personal and collective learning environment
• A platform with potential to resolve conflict, reach agreement where possible
• Facilitate continual development as a sporting community

2. Potential areas to explore to evaluate the effect:
• Impact of immersion into participation and interaction
• Understanding of the social obligation/requirement, barriers etc.
• Tolerance and shared understanding through dialogue
• Encouraging engagement and empowerment
• Expression of ideas/opinion
• Evidence of clarification within the game

3. Potential need for:
• Policy framework – rules of engagement, standards, terminology, ownership of vocabulary
• Establishing the expectations from the stakeholders
• Sustainability of the platform… dependent on interactivity and ownership?
• Leading to growth of the infrastructure through constant flow, activation and interaction

4. Key Question: Are they learning networks, or networks that learn?

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1 Comments For This Post

  1. Keith Lyons Says:

    What a great post, Darrell. My hope is that sport recognises that the new competitive edge is connectivism! This was my early attempt (2007) to share these ideas

    I look forward to reading more of your posts.

    Best wishes


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