Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Learning Technology Innovation in Athletics

I recently had the pleasure of working with an adventurous softball coach, Leslie Huntington, who is interested in utilizing learning technology to the max to help her students improve their skills. Being completely unathletic myself, I hadn't thought about how important learning technology can be in coaching, so this was quite a learning experience for me.

Leslie's goal is to get an iPad to record video, then analyze it using apps to be efficient. Sometimes she'll need to analyze video from other devices or older video moved off of the iPad, so regular computer software was still something we explored. Then, of course, she'll have to share it with the athlete either via YouTube (private setting), the app's accompanying streaming space, or UWEC drive space.

The apps we were used were Coach's Eye ($4.99) and Ubersense (free). She had a personally-owned Asus Transformer (Android) but not an iPad - yet, anyway. Since Ubersense is currently only available on iPad, she borrowed my iPad to use it and tried Coach's Eye on both devices. Overall, she reported preferring the iPad for video quality in general and because she had some problems exporting from Coach's Eye on the Asus.

We learned that it is probably better to record the video to the camera roll (on the device) and import it into the app rather than recording directly into the app. Coach's Eye saves it in their proprietary format, so it needs to be exported to be usable. You can export it to the camera roll, but recording there off the bat would allow it to be used in either app easily. ("Off the bat"? See what I did there?! Am I a little too proud of this pun?).

We also learned the hard way that Coach's Eye does not support sharing on the Android operating system Honeycomb, so we updated her Asus to Ice Cream Sandwich and thankfully it then worked. We were getting worried that we wouldn't be able to do anything with the video she recorded via Coach's Eye, but my Android skills came in handy. If you have no idea what I'm talking about that's ok - just update your devices when an update is available and often things work better.

Oddly enough, Ubersense (the free app) offers more functionality than Coach's Eye such as tagging athletes for organization, an angle tool, overlays, and and side-by-side. Leslie said there is use for both, but she prefers Ubersense.

Leslie thought she'd probably be able to do most of what she needs to do with the apps, but she anticipated future situations using video on the computer due to a variety of reasons - one being that they record entire games with a Flipcam. The Flipcam video is MP4 which does not work in Windows MovieMaker (awesome, right?).

So we determined that she could use Camtasia to edit the video (export it as HTML5/Flash), put it in Right View Pro to annotate (since the program is meant for coaching and she already knows how to use it), and then record voiceover and video of the analysis using either Camtasia or Screencast-o-matic. That's a lot of different programs, but I figured it might be easier than changing the format of the Flipcam video to work in MovieMaker. Normally, I wouldn't recommend Camtasia to use just as a video editor, but I think she may end up using it for it's intended purpose as a screencasting program as well and we have some extra licenses.

Finally, Leslie also used the Snipping Tool in Windows 7 to get images out of the video she had recorded, and then put images in Thinglink with descriptions of what is going on with them. For instance, she took a screenshot of an athlete in "attack position" (which is not what you think it is, if you are also unathletic), and then pointed out where the athlete's shoulders were and how her feet and knees were positioned.

That's a lot of technologies! I enjoyed the process of working through this with her since I really got to be creative. I look forward to seeing how things progress and how her preferences evolve as she gains more familiarity with the technology.

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