30 June 2016

microphone on a sports pitchIn the same month that Adelaide Crows forward Josh Jenkins says that microphoning football players during matches could help boost the sport, a new UniSA project will see Aboriginal AFL Academy students from the South Australian Aboriginal Sports Training Academy (SAASTA) being microphoned up, for the purpose of exploring their on-field language practices.

The project: Real Language in Real Time: tracking the on-field language practices of SAASTA students in the Aboriginal AFL Academy, is a response to innovations within sports analytics and player tracking technology which today sees sporting stars in the National Basketball Association and National Football League, in the US, increasingly “wired up” during games.

Josh Jenkins identifies that greater transparency and richer fan engagement are some of the follow-on benefits to this approach, arguing for it to become an adopted practice within the AFL.

Being able to track on-field language practices also has benefits off-field, especially when it comes to literacy and language development, explains Dr David Caldwell, lecturer in literacy and English at UniSA, who explains the purpose of the project.

“These on-field recordings have two main purposes: firstly empowering the students to engage with and reflect on their own authentic, real-time language practices in a context that is meaningful to them, and secondly, analysing their language practices for the purpose of improving performance,” Dr Caldwell says.

One of the outcomes will be an English language and literacy resource pack, drawing on data gathered, including language analysis, arising out of the project.

“In a wider context we are also seeking to promote social justice values by helping valorise the often marginalised “voice” of Aboriginal students in the classroom context and to promote contemporary multi-literacy practices by engaging with a “non-traditional” literacy-learning context,” Dr Caldwell adds.

“From our observations, the students are really keen to be taking part in the project.  It connects with their learning, and makes it relevant to them.  It also aligns with the way that sport and literacy are evolving in our digital age.”

SAASTA manager, Andrew Smith identified the value of the project as connecting with the aims of the sporting academy.

“SAASTA provides Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander senior high school students with skills, opportunities and confidence to achieve in the areas of sport, education, employment and healthy living,” Smith says.

“These areas connect in a variety of ways and the example of the Real Language in Real Time Project demonstrates exactly how field sports can really boost educational practice and learning, off-field and back in the classroom.”

The pre-AFL game that will see the SAASTA players mic-ed up will be the SAASTA versus Laguntas match taking place on July 1 at the Alberton Oval from 2.30pm. Laguntas are Richmond’s Aboriginal Academy team while the SAASTA team is Port Power’s Aboriginal Academy team.

Contact details:

Dr David Caldwell, Lecturer in Literacy and English, School of Education, University of South Australia

Phone: M: 0459 704 841W: +61 8 830 26691

Email: david.caldwell@unisa.edu.au

Media contact: Will Venn mobile: 0401 366 054 email: will.venn@unisa.edu.au

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