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                                OLYMPIC EDUCATION
                                 AND TECHNOLOGY
       ducating the youth of the world                                                  Movement, produced over a thou-

                                             by Vassil Girginov*, Jim Parry**
       lies at the heart of the Olympic            and Jim Harris***                    sand publications - books, articles
       project. Olympic education has                                                   and speeches. Today, to the best of
also been seen by scholars and            nology have been backed by political          our knowledge (which is by no means
administrators as the most effective      interventions. The summit of the Prime        complete) there are about 17,000 vol-
cure for various problems encoun-         Ministers of the European Union coun-         umes, numerous articles and papers,
tered by the Olympic Movement -           tries in Lisbon (Portugal) in June 2000       100,000 web pages and 100 films on
from enhancing participation in sport,    clearly declared the importance of            Olympism, not to mention the still
through doping to current reforms.        technology for societies in the 21st          images. Clearly over the past hun-
The scale and popularity of the           Century, and set a target for all             dred years the amount and the con-
Olympic Games have surpassed the          schools in the member countries to            tent of information have increased in
wildest dreams of their founders, but     have access to the internet by the end        complexity and structure. This turned
at present, more than ever before, the    of 2001. There is very little doubt that      Olympism into a rich content domain
IOC is seeking to broaden the educa-      these developments will impact on the         which, with a few notable examples
tional impact of its policies.            production, delivery and acquisition of       (e.g. video and film services provided
In order to promote Olympic values        information on Olympism.                      by the Olympic Television Archive
and ethics, the Olympic Movement                                                        Bureau), is not well-organized. Some
engages in a number of educational        Olympic Education: The                        of the typical features of not well-
ventures. Attaining the educational       Traditional Approach                          organized     knowledge domains
aims of Olympism even in the small-       In his lifetime Pierre de Coubertin, the      include non-uniformity of explanation
est community of people, for example      founder of the modern Olympic                 across the range of issues, non-lin-
a class of pupils, has always pre-
sented a challenge for all parties
involved. How to disseminate
Olympic values to the widest possible
audience? What to be the most
appealing form for presenting infor-
mation? How to motivate people to
learn and eventually change their
behaviours? These are just some of
the questions that constitute a part of
Olympic educational ventures.
 Modern technology offers promising
solutions to the above issues which
educators have tried to tackle for
 many years. The advance of personal
computers, desk top publishing, the
internet with its news and chat-
groups, web-communities and on-line
 publishing, e-mail and hypermedia
 present enormous opportunities for
exploring and popularising Olympic
values and ethics. Advances in tech-                                 The computer aids Olympic research.


earity of explanation and content-         hypertext/hypermedia, optical discs,         • “allows for different levels of prior
dependency.                                satellite and cable”.                           knowledge:
Delivering information and transfer-       The true meaning of this interactive         • encourages exploration;
ring it into knowledge in a rich and       environment is exploration, where            • enables subjects to see a sub-task
not well-structured domain, such as        individuals would browse, discover,             as part of the whole task;
Olympism, inevitably leads to the loss     hypothesize, problem solve, and gen-         • allows subjects to adapt material to
of information and makes education         erally engage in what Mayes, Kibby             their own learning style”.
harder. The traditional approach to        and Anderson (1990:121) described
Olympic education relies on linear         as “effort after understanding”.
media, e.g. textbooks and lectures, is     Central to interactive learning is the       Different users and variety of
teacher-led, offers little feedback to     use of a new communications                  learning styles
the learner, and as Kidd (1997) in his     medium called hypermedia which               The type of user and their learning
‘Pedagogy of the Olympic Sports’           was created by the convergence of            style is also an important variable in
argued, is informational rather than       computer and video technologies.             the new (non-linear) learning environ-
developmental. The use of linear           Spiro and Jehng (1990:167) referred          ment. It can be seen as a predisposi-
media (or close-ended, with begin-         to hypermedia as “nonlinear com-             tion to displaying a particular kind of
ning, middle and end, e.g., books,         puter learning system in any medium          behaviour, and reflects an individual’s
audio or video) for education would        (including multiple media)“. The pure        personality and cognitive characteris-
not have been problematic if               hypermedia (nonlinear learning               tics. Brooks, Simuits and O’Neil
Olympism was a simple and well-            media), according to Cotton and              (1985, quoted in Stanton and
structured subject matter. However, it     Oliver (1994:98) include three major         Stammers, 1990:115) described four
is not and the next section looks at       features: “one, it is interactive, two, it   general categories of differences that
the application of non-linear and multi-   involves a variety of combinations of        are related to learning strategies.
dimensional approaches in Olympic          media selected by the user, and              These are: abilities, cognitive style,
education.                                 three, it is formally non-linear, with no    prior knowledge and motivation.
                                           beginning, middle or end”.                   Related to these categories of differ-
Enhancing Olympic Education                The ultimate aim of education, and           ent users, are three broad learning
Through Interactive Learning               Olympic education in particular, is the      styles (strategies): top-down, when
Education, in the words of Roszak          transfer of information into knowl-          an individual looks at the most impor-
(1986, quoted in Ragsdale and              edge, that eventually results in asso-       tant things first; bottom-up, where
Kassam, 1996586) “...begins with           ciated changes in people’s behaviour.        the learner progresses from the more
giving the mind images - not data          There is growing evidence in the liter-      basic information upwards to the
points or machines - to think with”.       ature to suggest that this transfer and      more complex concepts; and
The idea of interactive learning has       its effects on individuals taught in         sequential, when the user decides on
stemmed from three main sources -          non-linear conditions is significantly       the actual sequence of looking at
computer-based training, interactive       improved, compared to perfor-                particular units from the overview
video and open learning. Barker and        mances in a fixed format (linear con-        screen.
Tucker (1990: 18) defined interactive      dition). So it is worth examining briefly
learning as “learner-centred learning      the key implications of interactive
using a multimedia approach”. It is,       learning on educators and learners.          Blurring the distinction between
they argued, “a process rather than a      These are discussed in turn below.           teacher and learner
technology, implying the creation of                                                    The advance of new technology also
an information-rich learning environ-      Learning environment                         transformed the relationship between
ment involving interaction between:        The interactivity in education brought       teachers and learners. As the amount
people (teachers and learners); print-     about by the new technology creates          of information that is made available
based material, typically produced         a whole new learning environment             electronically is increasing all the time
using desktop publishing methods;          that, as Stanton and Stammers                (for example posting on the internet
new computer-based media including         (1990:114-5) argued:                         the volumes from the International


Olympic Academy Sessions, since
1960 until present, which are other-
wise not widely available), that is, it
can be accessed at any time by
everyone, the notion of the teacher as
a repository of knowledge is replaced
by the concept of the teacher as an
expert guide.

Mutability of the knowledge-base
A consequence of the changing rela-
tions between teachers and students
is the mutability of the Olympic
knowledge base. As the traditional
static data (non-linear) in the form of
books or lectures is complemented
by more open-ended information (on-
line and desk-top publishing or
Olympic web-groups), this implies
that both teachers and students will
be able to contribute to the produc-
tion of new knowledge in an ongoing
fashion. In addition, the new knowl-
edge is quicker and cheaper to pro-                        An information terminal at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne.
duce, and can be readily updated.
                                           Knowledge-based learning                       be applied in various cultural con-
                                           environment in which the devel-                texts. An interactive learning environ-
Learner-centred approach                   oper, teacher and learner exist in             ment encourages different interpreta-
Another key implication of interactive     a symbolic relationship                        tions rather than imposing uniformity
learning is that it changes the tradi-     In contrast to the traditional approach        in understanding, and seeks for an
tional teacher-led approach to educa-      to learning where there is no or very          implementation relevant to a social
tion to a learner-centred approach. In     little interaction between the teacher         reality in which students live.
a learner-centred teaching environ-        and media developers (books or
ment, the student is offered three         video authors), the interactive learn-
main benefits. First, it allows students   ing approach involves the tutor and            Implementing new technology in
to study various aspects of Olympism       the learner in a constant feedback             Olympic education
at a pace that suits their needs.          with the developer, in a way that the          The Olympic Themes CD-ROM is an
Second, it provides students the abil-     contents of instructional material can         attempt to address the challenges
ity to control the order through which     be instantly updated.                          presented to both educators and
the instructional material is pre-                                                        learners by new technology in their
sented. Third, a learner-controlled                                                       pursuit of Olympic education. This
approach allows students to choose         New knowledge has to be applied                project is a partnership between the
the portion of the content materials       in greatly varying contexts                    University of Luton, the University of
they want to study. All these advan-       The idea that Olympism is a rich con-          Leeds and the British Olympic
tages are further reinforced by the        tent domain which lacks uniformity of          Association, with the support of
combined use of text, graphics,            explanation implies that the knowl-            OTAB. It is an interactive educational
sound, images and video.                   edge that has been acquired has to             multimedia package for studying the


fundamental aspects of modern              associated sub-themes. Further         *Luton Business School, University of
Olympism designed for undergradu-          investigation is facilitated through   Luton; **Department of Philosophy,
ate and college students in sport and      referenced material, tables, pic-      University of Leeds; ***Learning
leisure. It may also be used by stu-       tures and video footage. Students      Technology Centre, University of
dents pursuing degrees in sociology,       can use the embedded web               Luton.
communications, history and market-        addresses to explore and expand
ing. The Olympic Themes CD ROM             their understanding of a particular    References
aims to create an interactive learning     theme. Modules are included to         - Barker, J., and Tucker, R., (eds.),
environment by establishing a cen-         enhance writing and presentation       (1990), ‘The Interactive Learning
tralized information resource that         skills.                                Revolution: Multimedia in Education
uses both the distribution advantages                                             and Training’, Kogan Page, London.
of a multimedia CD ROM, and the                                                   - Cotton, B., and Oliver, R., (1994),
topic-relevant information available                                              ‘Cyberspace lexicon’, London.
through the Internet.                                                             - Kidd, B., (1997), ‘Towards a peda-
The Olympic Themes CD ROM offers                                                  gogy of the Olympic sports’, in
twelve fundamental building blocks -                                              Donnelly, P., ‘Taking Sport Seriously:
‘themes’ or ‘gateways’ for compre-                                                Social Issues in Canadian Sport’,
hending Modern Olympism in its                                                    TEP, Toronto.
entirety. Each theme is a self-con-                                               - Mayes, T., Kibby, M., and Anderson,
tained unit which can be studied                                                  T., (1990), ‘Signposts for conceptual
independently. No particular point of                                             orientation: some requirements for
view is promoted. Rather, different                                               learning from hypertext’, in McAleese,
interpretations of Olympism have                                                  R., and Green, C. (eds.), ‘Hypertext:
been put forward, and the reader is                                               state of the art’, Intellect Limited,
invited to evaluate them critically.                                              Oxford.
Representing the diversity of opin-                                               - Ragsdale, R., and Kassam, A.,
ions, and the dynamic character of                                                (1996), ‘The Magic of Multimedia in
the Olympic Movement, the twelve                                                  Education: Promises of the 21st
themes introduced are:                                                            Century’, in Reisman, S., (ed.),
- The Olympic Movement in the 21st                                                ‘Multimedia Computing, Preparing for
   Century                                                                        the 21st Century’, IDEA, London.
                                               CD ROM on the Olympic Themes.
- The Olympic idea                                                                - Spiro, R., and Jehng, J-Ch., (1990),
- Olympic history                                                                 ‘Cognitive flexibility and hypertext:
- The Olympic Movement - structure       - Library: The Olympic Themes            Theory and technology for the nonlin-
   and power relations                      library gives the user the opportu-   ear and multidimensional traversal of
- Olympic politics                          nity independently to read, view,     complex subject matter’, in Nix, D.,
- Olympic marketing                         visit or listen to all resources      and Spiro, R., (eds.), ‘Cognition,
- The Olympic Games and the media           included in the CD ROM.               Education, Multimedia’, Lawrence
- Running the Games                      - Olympic Gallery: The Olympic           Erlbaum, London.
- Economic and environmental                Themes virtual gallery enables the    - Stanton, N., and Stammers, R.,
   impact of the Olympic Games              users to enjoy the relationship       (1990), ‘Learning styles in a non-lin-
- Ethics of sport and Olympism              between arts and sport through the    ear training environment’, in
- Olympic education                         art work of artist Kevin Whitney.     McAleese, R., and Green, C. (eds.),
- Olympic arts                           The academic content and format of       ‘Hypertext: state of the art’, Intellect
The content of the CD ROM is divided     the CD-ROM has been subjected to         Limited, Oxford.
into three main sections:                expert evaluation and discussions,       Toohey, K., and Veal, A., (2000), ‘The
- Lecture Room: The user can study       involving prominent figures from         Olympic Games’, CAB International,
    any of the twelve themes and their   academia and sports industry.            London.


Description: Olympic Technology document sample