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Yma o hyd….. yng Nghwpan y Byd. YMLAEN CYMRU! Pob lwc oddiwrth bawb ym Mhontydysgu.

October 12th, 2011 by Jenny Hughes

This vid has got absolutely nothing to do with the fact that WALES ARE NOW IN THE SEMI FINALS OF THE WORLD CUP (ac mae’r tim Saesneg wedi mynd adre). It is a learning object and I’m using it to illustrate an article I read today about a BBC Wales project, targeting ‘hard to reach’ teenagers, that used rugby as a vehicle for informal learning.

By the way, the title of this post translates (possibly) as “Informal Learning through the Internet: a learning journey through the world of rugby.” ; ) – which is actually the title of a report on the project by an old friend of mine, Danny Saunders from the University of Glamorgan and his co-authors Jocelyn Andrews and Eleri Wyn-Lewis from BBC Wales.

What follows is an edited extract from the report describing what happened.

Scrum V: A case study in informal learning

The Scrum V project formed a unique partnership with a popular weekly BBC Wales television programme (called Scrum V)that gave commentary and analysis on rugby games and issues. It established a parallel website which picked up on issues and interests covered by Scrum V and explored them further.

The Scrum V learning journey was designed to widen participation, introduce flexible learning opportunities and engage teenage boys and young adults in learning process.

Design

The Scrum V website involved a team of education and software experts located in the BBC Wales Education Department. It culminated in a total of 135 web pages which were clustered into eight content categories at the design stage:

  • People behind Scrum V (17 pages)
  • Sport related commentary (9 pages)
  • The Referee’ s Room (5 pages)
  • Interaction (16 pages)
  • Learning pages (10 pages)
  • Employment links (20 pages)
  • Travel and country information (46 pages)
  • Journalist interviews and competitions (12 pages)

The first two were linked with commentary on specific rugby matches and teams, plus competitions, weather forecasts, coaching issues and league tables. The remainder focused on more eclectic learning interests that can be illustrated by the following six examples.

First, the Referees Room included discussion about the rules of rugby as well as decision making by match officials during a specific game. There were also human interest stories about becoming a referee, the most difficult situations and conflicts that have been managed by referees, and the reasoning behind the laws of the game. There was also a unique feature story on refereeing by women resulting in one 16 year old girl securing a work experience placement with a referee, completing all the training, gaining the qualifications and going on to referee women’s rugby.

Second, the interaction category made full use of web based communications via message boards, email, chat rooms and quizzes. It encouraged creative writing through sending in sports reports on televised as well as local rugby games. The site housed match reports from fans, pundit columns by sports journalists, live chat, and user stories.

Third, the learning pages category interpreted numerous curriculum areas (such as history, mathematics, technology and biology) through the medium of rugby. This included, for example, tracing the history of the sport within a range of societies, including the identification of its cultural and political roots. Mathematical information was interpreted and analysed at critical levels through the compilation of statistics and league tables, including the calculation of try:conversion ratios. Technology included the use of equipment and graphic design in the industry of rugby, as well as an introduction to sports photography. Biology was explored through themes of fitness and injury and this also extended to horticulture through detailing the skills and craft of ground keeping.

In addition, there were also learning objectives about using the site itself because this developed key skills in information and communication technology.

The fourth category of employment links covered such interests as becoming a journalist, the skills of being an editor, career pathways in horticulture and ground-keeping, stadium management, employment within marketing and advertising. These pages also extended to explaining the advantages of speaking the Welsh language within work environments. Many of these pages involved extensive links with others sites developed by careers guidance and counselling experts as well as colleges and corporate training department.

The fifth category of travel and country information focused especially on tourism, weather and transport. The geographical features of the home countries of famous players and teams were introduced, including an analysis of demography and an introduction to meteorology and climatology. It provided information about the culture and history of visiting rugby teams, as well as information for learners who were interested in planning rugby tours or holidays abroad. When international matches were covered by the site, a range of vocabulary in the other languages was introduced and communication customs were explored, one example being the haka ritual as performed by some of the Pacific teams.

Finally, the journalist interviews and competitions category involved communication with famous commentators, players and celebrities. There were also competitions which necessitated searching out of information and the use of general knowledge.

In all of these examples active learning was encouraged through web-based interactivity through the use of message boards, i-bar links with televised rugby programmes, email access to journalists and players and competitions.

User Interface

The design details covered the above eight categories because they made sense to educationalists, webpage designers and media experts. The users themselves encountered a more simple interface containing three sub-sites with catch-all titles. The first was labelled Hooker’s Arms and housed the rugby writing and match reports by users. It also contained stories about culture and language, such as international rugby songs, rituals, and biographies. The second was called Commentary Box because there was engagement with more detailed interpretation of facts and news items, with expert judgements from journalists and players. The third was entitled Training Camp because of interests in education, training and employment opportunities.

Outcomes

The number of hits averaged 78,000 a month during the 6-month rugby season, fluctuating according to how well the national team was performing and peaking to 92,000 at the height of the Six-Nations championship. There were also marked differences between the three content categories. The Training Camp pages revealed a decline over time, the Commentary Box showed marked fluctuations, whilst the Hookers Arms content became more and more popular. Many of these hits were from repeat users and these patterns reflect a growth in learning over time.

The Training Camp pages presented unchanging information and contact details for follow-up information. Once accessed these pages would not usually be returned to on future visits. The Hookers Arms information was however constantly being updated and modified, with a sensitivity to the latest stories and issues and queries from users. Furthermore, this section of the site housed the major informal learning content and  built on previous interactive learning in earlier months so that momentum increased over time. The Commentary Box depended on an analysis of controversial issues and technical details concerning coaching, injuries and team news. This was typified by busy and quiet times based on the progress of various competitions and leagues;

The message board, like the trend in Hookers Arms usage,  grew in popularity over time. Again, an increase in messaging activity by users was escalated further usage because of the number of replies to questions and queries. Users first of all had to discover the existence of the message board and this explains the relatively low numbers (albeit approximately 8000 per week during the first two months of operation) in the earlier part of the project.

The full report can be downloaded by clicking here

2 Responses to “Yma o hyd….. yng Nghwpan y Byd. YMLAEN CYMRU! Pob lwc oddiwrth bawb ym Mhontydysgu.”

  1. Angela Rees says:

    Sorry, what was that?

    “WALES ARE NOW IN THE SEMI FINALS OF THE WORLD CUP”

    Just checking!

  2. Angela Rees says:

    Pob lwc Cymru oddiwrth bawb ym Mhontypridd hefyd!

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