My name is Andrea Andrews and I love to teach swimming. What I am teaching in the pool has changed for the better over the years through experience and by syllabus changes allowing me to place a much stronger emphasis on play, fun and enjoyment of the water. The influence of technology on my job has also grown over the years having the use of online CPD, smart phones to talk to my clients every spare minute, twitter, linked in, Facebook and now I take my registers on an iPad that is protected inside a water proof case when I work for GLL/Better at Didcot Wave. I have been using this handheld device for about 12 weeks now and enjoyably it has its advantages, removing the necessity for soggy paper records or the expense of me laminating these same sheets myself and using waterproof marker pens.
At first I found it difficult to transfer all of the details I already possessed about the children’s progress onto the device as there was a lot to enter in the short window of time that the records are modifiable (the same day of the week as the class) and I had habitually recorded more stepped detail than the iPad form permits. I am adjusting to the new leaner system by carrying more detail in my head which may keep senility at bay and may soon wonder what I ever did without it. This is what happens in life. However, I would also like to consider what will come out of this routine electronic data collection. Parents are able to go online and see the status of their child’s progress. This is useful for them to see where their child is in the stage and saves pieces of paper being exchanged. It may not reduce the necessary exchanges of words between parents and teachers, so essential for calmer waters to be maintained. It should improve safety too where a child cannot enter the water without being present on the electronic register. The operator; GLL says that they find real time live registers a key benefit.
In conditions where “the system is down” teachers revert to using paper again and I have not so far lost, dropped or drowned a device thankfully. The intrigued members of the public and the children enjoyed me asking “Anyone for pizza?” when I first started to take the register and now they have satisfied their curiosity we get can all get on with the lesson much faster. What interests me greatly however, are the statistical analyses that the operator may be able to ply on the large evolving data set that they will hold across their numerous sites. Patterns will presumably emerge that can inform the operators how to make improvements in their swim schools. What form any improvements will take and whether teachers will feel that they are empowered as part of a positive process is down to the skill of the operator and the practical accuracy of the interpretations they make. Bare statistics can hide or mislead in equal measure and I hope that operators will not become too dependent on this ready source, employ their newfound knowledge wisely, always follow up with objective on the ground researches and not ever be tempted to make speedy or financial justifications to throw any babes out with the backwash. I would love to see it used as a research tool to shine a light on why some children fail to feel like a swimmer or able to enjoy the water as this will define their future participation.
Examples of how GLL plans to use data for the benefit of the customer include – intervention schemes should pupils be stuck on particular areas of the curriculum, eg a clinic on Breast stroke leg action, monitoring of ongoing assessments, talent identification schemes linked to pupils progression speed and age.
So as a pioneering child of the Pac Man and space invaders age I am being dragged into the 21st century further every day. I never thought I would see the day that electronic records are used in swimming pools so as usual will be trying my best to keep up but will also keep an eye on the interests of the pupils we try so hard to help day in and day out.